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Toyota FCV for 2015, using small, efficient California H2 network
Toyota showed its FCV Concept fuel cell car at the recent CES 2014
Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and confirmed that it will launch the car in 2015, initially in California because of its existing (albeit modest) hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Work with the Advanced Power and Energy Program at the University of California, Irvine has helped to map out potential locations for new hydrogen stations, which indicates that as few as 68 stations could serve the state’s main population areas.
‘Fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe, and in much greater numbers than anyone expected,’ says Bob Carter, senior VP of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) USA. ‘There are significant challenges. The first is building the vehicle at a reasonable price for many people. The second is doing what we can to help kickstart the construction of convenient hydrogen refueling infrastructure. We’re doing a good job with both, and we will launch in 2015.’
Two vehicles shared the stage at the Toyota press conference. The FCV Concept, unveiled last autumn at the Tokyo Motor Show [FCB, December 2013, p2], shows what the four-door, mid-size saloon will look like. And the camouflage-taped engineering prototype on show has been used for extensive and extreme on-road testing in North America for more than a year. The prototype has consistently delivered a driving range of about 300 miles (480 km), with refueling taking three to five minutes.
Carter says that the company has even fired bullets at its carbon fibre hydrogen tanks to test their durability. Small-calibre rounds simply bounced off, and while a heavy .50 calibre (12.7 mm) round was able to penetrate the tank, ‘it just left a hole and the hydrogen simply leaked out.’
While specific sales volumes will be announced closer to launch, Carter says that Toyota has revised its initial market plans and requested additional vehicles. More information will be announced in the coming weeks and months, including US sales targets, the model name, and comprehensive specifications and performance data.
The size and weight of the powertrain system has been significantly reduced, while maintaining an impressive total power output of more than 100 kW. Furthermore, a fully fueled vehicle will be capable of supplying enough energy to power a house for a week in an emergency; Toyota engineers are currently looking to develop an external power supply device that could be used in this way.
Focusing on its initial launch in California, Toyota has partnered with the University of California, Irvine’s Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP) to help map out potential locations for new hydrogen fueling stations. The APEP spatial model considers a variety of data, including R.L. Polk data on ownership of hybrid and electric vehicles, traffic patterns, and population density. The model is based on the assumption that owners want to reach a refueling station within six minutes.
The model produced an initial cluster map that requires only 68 station sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, as well as Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. If implemented, the mapped system could handle an FCEV population conservatively estimated by APEP at about 10 000 vehicles.
‘By using the model, and if every vehicle in California ran on hydrogen… we could meet refueling logistics with only 15% of the nearly 10 000 gasoline stations currently operating in the state,’ says Carter. ‘It’s not about how many. It’s about location.’
California has already approved more than $200 million in funding to build about 20 new stations by 2015, a total of 40 by 2016, and as many as 100 by 2024 [FCB, October 2013, p6]. To help guide the construction of new stations, the APEP model is being used by the California Energy Commission, the Governor’s Zero Emission Vehicle Initiative, California Air Resources Board, US Department of Energy, and California Fuel Cell Partnership.
Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle: www.toyota.com/fuelcell
University of California – Irvine, Advanced Power and Energy Program: www.apep.uci.edu
Economics of Near-term CA H2 Infrastructure (PDF): http://tinyurl.com/ca-h2-economics
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