Hydrogen: Auto Fuel of the Future?

toyota-fcv-hydrogen-fuel-cell-vehicle-prototype-during-hot-weather-endurance-testing-in-n-america_100451627_lToyota Prius, step aside. There’s a new car in town. Introducing the FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle). Also made by Toyota, this vehicle is powered solely by hydrogen. The FCV’s fuel cell combines oxygen in the atmosphere with hydrogen, producing electricity to the electric motor that powers the car the same way that it would an electric vehicle. The FCV motor is supposed to be able to produce around 140 horsepower, enabling the car to go from 0 to 60 mph within a 10 second time frame.

The FCV will be a four-seater sedan and its range is supposed to be similar to a high-end Tesla. Additional advantage? The fill-ups will only take a few minutes at gas stations. The FCV will initially be available in California, where the state has committed to having over one hundred hydrogen filling stations within the next ten years. It will also have a small battery that can be charged as needed in order to store extra energy during low-powered driving and provide more energy during high-powered drives. Two hydrogen tanks will be featured towards the back end of the car, and Toyota has designed the fuel cell so that it will small enough to allow four passengers to sit inside the vehicle comfortably in addition to extra room for luggage.

For those questioning the convenience of having a hydrogen-powered vehicle, here’s the lowdown: on the upside, it only takes a few minutes to fill a hydrogen tank and can encompass a range of up to 300-miles. The slight downside is that these cars can only be refilled at hydrogen stations – unlike electric cars that can be recharged just about anywhere. There are currently a dozen hydrogen fuel stations in California with plans to build more in the next decade, but will it be enough? And what about cross-country drives? Toyota specialists are currently looking into pre-packaged hydrogen tanks that could be sold at auto stores or carried by consumers (similar to a spare tire), but that idea hasn’t been brought to fruition yet.

As of now the Prius makes more sense, but that doesn’t mean that we should completely dismiss the FCV either. A specific date hasn’t been set yet, but Toyota plans to launch the FCV sometime in 2015.

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