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Hey Toyota How About a Commercial H2 Fuel Cell Plug-in Hybrid?

Now that the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle has begun rolling out commercially in the United States it makes me wonder what is in store next for the world’s largest automaker. For years I have been talking about the merits of bringing a hydrogen fuel cell plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV) to market.

This idea isn’t that far-fetched. For instance, several years ago Ford rolled out a prototype Flexible Series Edge SUV with HySeries Drive which is an H2 FC PHEV.

In 2008, the city of Burbank, California received a Proterra plug-in fuel cell bus. In 2009, Vision Motor Corporation rolled out its Tyrano Truck which is also an H2 FC PHEV.

Some of the merits of producing a commercial plug-in fuel cell auto include:

  1. You can plug-in your auto at night during off-peak hours and save money.
  2. According to a Federal Highway Administration document from February 20, 2015, the average American drives 13,476 miles per year or roughly 37 miles per day. This means that many people will be able to drive on battery alone much of the time.
  3. A hydrogen fuel cell can be seen as a “range extender” for longer auto trips and to reduce “range anxiety”.
  4. A PHEV / Fuel Cell combination will still be zero emission vehicles.
  5. The PHEV / Fuel Cell combination will save on hydrogen gas.
  6. If fuel cell PHEV’s are widely adopted and they save on H2 gas, this means fewer hydrogen fueling stations will need to be built. This also means that creating a widespread hydrogen refueling infrastructure won’t as overwhelming of a task as many people now believe.
  7. A PHEV / Fuel Cell combination will put less of a strain on the electrical grid than wide adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

So, what are the downsides? Size, weight and cost will need to be accounted for in merging these two high-tech automotive technologies. The reason I’m targeting Toyota for this task is that they currently have a commercial fuel cell vehicle (the Mirai pictured above on the right) on the market and they also has two plug-in hybrid models (Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced pictured above on the left) for sale as well.

So, how about it, Toyota, is a future H2 FC PHEV in the pipeline?




About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen auto blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen autos, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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  1. Avatar

    The technology is there, but Big oil is here, and our corrupted politician are here too, so it may take more time again.

    It is true that both technology use the same principle, but different way to store the energy.
    It is not a problem of size cause both the battery and the fuel cell are going to decrease in size while working with each other.

    I hate the war between the pro-electric, and the pro-hydrogen, there is in fact a market for both, and finally there will be a market for both working together.

    I think unfortunately that until oil become so expensive than no one can afford it, those two one will stay marginal.

    Maybe in 20+ years they will start to take off completely.

  2. Avatar

    You are right. 500 km worth of hydrogen weighs less than half of batteries charged for 500 km. When both fuel cell and battery become cheaper and smaller this is the obvious solution.

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