Toyota Fuel Cell Concept revealed at Tokyo Motor Show

21 Nov, 2013 5:23pm Jonathan Burn

A close-to-production Toyota FCV concept has been shown at the Tokyo Motor Show

The Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) concept has been unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, and it's fairly close to an upcoming production model. It will make its way to the UK in 2015 although in very limited numbers - similiar to the Volkswagen XL1.

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The concept features Toyota’s compact fuel cell stack and a pair of high-pressure hydrogen tanks stored beneath the body – meaning there is no intrusion on interior or load space. Toyota has managed to double the power density of the fuel cell stack by employing a smaller electric motor, while reducing the overall size from the system previously used. Despite the reduction in size, power has increased to around 135bhp, and when not driving the fuel cell system produces enough electricity to power the average home for a week.

Auto Express' head of motoring video Mat Watson got the chance to take a closer look at the car in our exclusive video below.

Toyota claims on a full tank of hydrogen, the FCV is capable of covering at least 300 miles. The refuelling time is also said to be around the same as conventional petrol or diesel vehicles, at three minutes, yet unlike normal fuels, hydrogen powered cars only produce water vapour as a waste product.

It measures in at 4,870mm long, 1810mm wide and 1,535mm high – making it similar in size to a BMW 5 Series saloon. It’s designed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind, and features pronounced air intakes along with sculpted lines to aid airflow. While at the back Toyota's designers claim to have been inspired by the stern of a sailing catamaran.

A refuelling infrastructure is yet to be put in place for hydrogen-powered vehicles, but along with the first batch of FCVs due in 2015, hydrogen refuelling stations on major routes such as the M1 and M4 will be put in place.

Toyota is still tight-lipped about a price tag for the FCV, but expect prices to be in excess of £50,000 when it goes on sale in 2015. However, supported by a wider roll-out of hydrogen refuelling stations and once mass production begins, the price will begin to fall, making hydrogen powered vehicles a more viable option when compared with more range-restricted electric vehicles.

Other concepts at the show will include the FV2 - a personal transport pod that moves by the 'driver' shifting their position around the cabin, uses facial recognition technology and an augmented reality screen to project key information onto the world around you. It can also wirelessly connect to other traffic. 

Joining them on the stand will be the boxy JPN Taxi concept - an LPG powered take on the tradtional city cab, and the Voxy and Noah concepts - two Japan-only seven-seat MPVs that are destined to go on sale next year.

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Unless they can pull hydrogen from the sun I fail to see the benefit of hydrogen.

Fuel cells wear like batteries, but batteries have much better power densities.

While hydrogen refule times are the only advantage, batteries will have similar charge times by the time hydrogen becomes affordable.

There is also the question of the hydrogen itself, it's hugely energy intensive and much more inefficient than charging batteries. The energy needed will have to come from nuclear.

Hydrogen will never be as cheap as electricity and companies will control it and governments tax it, one reason I'm hugely in favour of full battery electric cars.

Battery range of about a reall 200 miles would be perfect with a 5 min recharge time.

Still even the Leaf with 70 miles range and a 30 min fast charge is capable of making a journey of 130 miles in a day easily, or charge at work or at a public station while you're at work.

Do you really need to carry a big heavy expensive battery for the odd time you do more than 100 miles a day ?

Hydrogen is the much better option as it's fuel density(using a fuel cell) is ten times higher than the best batteries.