Toyota to launch hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in US next year

Hydrogen-powered electric cars are moving in at a brisk pace as fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) that use hydrogen as fuel for their batteries will be in use in Northern America by 2015 year, earlier than planned, says Toyota Motor Corp.

FCVs are powered by fuel cells, which generate electricity from hydrogen and emit only water vapour as exhaust. The fuel cells are not only environment-friendly and highly energy-efficient, but can also be produced using a variety of readily available raw materials, according to Toyota.

''Hydrogen is no longer an impossible dream,'' Bob Carter, senior vice president, Toyota Motor Sales, said at a press briefing on the sidelines of the international Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the technology industry's annual gadget show in Las Vegas, at which Toyota also announced the introduction of FCVs on the North American market in 2015, commencing with California.

Toyota said the car will go on sale in the US in 2015.

Rival automakers Hyundai and Honda have also said they'd start selling cars with that technology in the US next year.

Carter said there is increased demand for the vehicles in the US market.

He also said that a 95 per cent cut in production costs from the initial prototype would help Toyota make fuel cell cars that are "a reasonable price for a lot of people."

Toyota Motor Corp expects to sell the FCVs for $50,000 to $100,000, at the lower end of the range.

Toyota said the car will have a range of 480 km (300 miles), can accelerate from standstill to 86 km (60 miles), and refuel its hydrogen tank in three to five minutes.

Toyota said the first 10,000 vehicles can be supported with 68 refuelling stations from San Francisco to San Diego. Also, Toyota said, California has approved $200 million to build about 20 fuelling stations by 2015, 40 by 2016 and 100 by 2024.

"This infrastructure thing is going to happen," Carter said, adding that all the cars in California could be served with just 15 per cent of the 10,000 gas stations in the state now if they were spaced correctly.

Toyota displayed 3 unique concept cars, including the IT-empowered `FV2' that has created a new relationship between people and cars, at the CES.

Toyota's car for the connected future, the Toyota FV2, is equipped with the latest in IT technology, helping to build a more natural relationship between people and their cars. The FV2 concept car is one step toward giving shape to this idea.

''Designed around ''intuitive connections,'' you control the FV2 with your body's motions, and the vehicle reacts to your emotions as well,'' says Toyota.

The i-Road, an ultra-compact electric vehicle has only three wheels. The vehicle built using the latest technologies, offers compact mobility for short-distance city driving.

Its small footprint results in impressive manoeuvrability, navigating narrow streets quickly and smoothly.

These features mean the i-Road will contribute to decreased congestion and need for parking, helping maintain clean communities that produce fewer greenhouse gases.

The i-Road will participate in urban transport trials from 2014 in Toyota City, Japan and in Grenoble, France.