Toyota To Double Down on Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles As Industry Goes Electric

The company hopes mass production will lower costs and speed consumer adoption.

David Dewhurst Photography/Toyota

To the automotive industry at large, the dream of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles sometimes feels like little more than a science project that didn’t really go anywhere. But not for Toyota. As one of the only car companies in the world that build a hydrogen-powered car you can lease, Toyota is moving forward with investing in the alternative fuel, according to Reuters.

It’s about more than just the Toyota Mirai, and even more than passenger cars. Toyota wants to expand hydrogen fuel cell tech to buses and trucks in the commercial segment, which implies the company will also move forward with its “Project Portal” hydrogen fuel-cell Class 8 semi truck. But how is Toyota going to get regular consumers excited about buying hydrogen fuel cell cars? It’s pretty simple, the same way it got people excited about buying hybrids with the Prius: by making it affordable.

“We’re going to shift from limited production to mass production, reduce the amount of expensive materials like platinum used in FCV [fuel cell vehicle] components, and make the system more compact and powerful,” the MiraI's chief engineer Yoshikazu Tanaka said in an interview with Reuters.

2025 is a big target year for Toyota. Sources familiar with the plan told Reuters that the brand wants to introduce a range of hydrogen-powered SUVs, pickups, and commercial trucks around 2025 along with increasing the Mirai’s range to 1,000 km (621 miles) in the same time frame. Last year, Toyota predicted that hydrogen fuel cell cars would be as cheap as conventional hybrids by 2025.

So keep an eye on Toyota over the next seven years. If it can really pull off the dream of mass-market hydrogen fuel cell cars, it might reignite the battle between FCVs and electric vehicles for alternative fuel dominance.