After more than 20 years of research, Toyota’s vision of the car of the future has become a reality.
The new Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan, seen for the first time in Europe at the recent Paris motor show, has a driving range comparable with a petrol engine vehicle and can be refuelled in around three minutes, yet its only tailpipe emission is water vapour.
The world’s first production hydrogen-powered saloon is a development of the Toyota FCV Concept that made its international debut at the 2013 Tokyo motor show, after the company were given government-approved status to build and inspect high-pressure hydrogen tanks. While remaining faithful to the avant garde styling of the concept, the Fuel Cell Sedan features a number of detail changes that will make it practical for everyday driving, including adjustments to the radiator grille, headlamps, rear lights, aerial, roof and fuel filler flap. Unsurprisingly, the concept’s rear-view cameras have been replaced by conventional mirrors.
The Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan is designed to be practical for motorists’ everyday needs, being a front-wheel drive, four-door, four-seat saloon. Performance and cruising range are like that of a petrol engine vehicle and filling the fuel tank takes roughly three minutes.
To maximise cabin space and lower the car’s centre of gravity, the fuel cell, battery and fuel tanks are installed under the floor. The two tanks store hydrogen at pressures up to 700bar and the front compartment houses the electric motor, electronic control system and boost converter. The converter increases the voltage produced by the fuel cell, so has allowed for the size of the motor and number of cells to be reduced, cutting costs and increasing performance.
The Fuel Cell Sedan will go on sale in Japan before April 2015 and preparations are under way for launches in the USA and European markets in the summer.