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Toyota's Fuel Cell Vehicle Will Be For Sale, Not Just Lease

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On: Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 9:44AM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota's Fuel Cell Vehicle Will Be For Sale, Not Just Lease

In past years, the North American International Auto Show marked the official beginning of the auto new year. As the auto and tech industries cooperate more and more closely, however, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has taken over as the first major "auto show" of the year, allowing automakers and aftermarket companies to focus attention on their latest navigation systems, connected car hardware, autonomous driving technologies, and green designs. Toyota used this year's CES to showcase its upcoming fuel cell vehicle.

On its big CES stage, Toyota revealed a radiant blue FCV sedan concept and the camouflaged prototype it's been using for testing. While automakers such as Honda have offered fuel cell leases in the past, Toyota will be the first to sell a fuel cell car when it brings the production FCV to dealerships next year.

The car's specs have yet to be finalized, but Toyota says that it uses an electric motor with an output of 100 kW backed by hydrogen fuel cell power. Its testing has indicated a driving range of around 300 miles and 0-60 mph acceleration of around 10 seconds.

"We aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel, just everything necessary to make them turn,” said Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. Inc. "Hydrogen works beautifully with oxygen to create water and electricity and nothing more."

Fuel cell vehicles offer several advantages over traditional hybrids and electric vehicles. As Carter mentions, they do not produce CO2 emissions, emitting only water vapor. Like hybrids, they offer greater driving ranges and quicker fueling times when compared to battery electric vehicles. Toyota says the FCV can be filled with hydrogen in three to five minutes.

The FCV represents two decades of Toyota R&D in fuel cell design. The car will launch next year in California, where the lion's share of the country's hydrogen fueling stations is located.

Recognizing that a lack of hydrogen fueling infrastructure threatens to hinder the FCV's success, Toyota has teamed with University of California Irvine’s Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP) to create a model for future fueling infrastructure. The expansion is already underway, as California has approved $200 million of funding to expand the number of hydrogen stations by up to 100 over the next 10 years.

Toyota plans to release more information about the FCV in the weeks and months ahead.

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