Toyota has announced that by 2013 it will have 100 fuel cell vehicles on the road for demonstration and testing. This is two years ahead of the previously announced large scale rollout of commercial production hydrogen autos in 2015.
Up to this point, Honda, General Motors, BMW and Daimler are the automakers who have had large numbers of hydrogen autos on the road for demonstration and testing. BMW has already announced they are scaling back efforts on their hydrogen vehicles.
Some have criticized Toyota (the world’s leading auto producer) of being behind the other automakers in development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Since Toyota has pioneered hybrid technology and presumably now plug-in hybrid technology it has made many wonder why the Japanese automaker has only been dipping its toe into hydrogen, so to speak.
But, while Toyota has not been a leader in hydrogen fuel cell technology they have not exactly been lollygagging either. Since 2002, they have kept improving their Toyota FCHV SUV’s and now have a fleet of 20 such vehicles in real world testing.
In fact, in August 2009, Toyota ran a couple of tests with their newest FCHV Adv and found the vehicle to have a range between 431 miles and 516 miles 68.1 mpg depending upon driving conditions. So, what Toyota has done, they have done well.
Now, Toyota has decided to scale up their efforts introducing 100 FCHV Adv SUV’s over the coming months in places that already have hydrogen fueling station clusters (California and New York) locations that will be building H2 fueling stations in the near future.
One reason is that like the other automakers, Toyota wants to put pressure on business and government to rollout more stations to refuel their vehicles. Another reason is that Toyota sees hydrogen as the future and wants to be right there in the thick of competition when FCV’s start to catch on quickly.