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Fuel cell vehicles as significant as hybrids, says Toyota

The carmaker unveiled a concept car at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, announcing that it was working with the State of California to roll out a supporting refuelling infrastructure.

Hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity from a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, which can be stored in a battery and used to drive a car via an electric motor. Refuelling takes around three minutes, and Toyota’s test vehicle offers a 300-mile range.

Speaking at the 2014 Automotive News World Congress, Bob Carter, senior vice president, automotive operations at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., told delegates he was particularly excited about the opportunities the technology had to offer.

‘Personally, I don’t care what Elon [Musk, founder of Tesla], Carlos [Ghosn, CEO of Renault-Nissan] or Jonathan [Browning, former chief executive of Volkswagen of America] say about fuel cells. If they want to “plug in and tune out” other technologies, that’s fine.  

‘It reminds me of all the head scratching when Toyota made a commitment to hybrid technology back when gasoline was a buck a gallon. The Prius was dismissed as a PR gimmick and a science experiment. Well, we’ve since sold over 2.2 million hybrids in the U.S., and nearly 6 million sales worldwide.

‘Ten years from now, I have a hunch our fuel cell vehicle will be viewed in similar terms. We truly believe it has the same potential as the first Prius.’

Alex Grant

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