Toyota Motor Corp. revealed a sneak peak of its FCV Concept hydrogen fuel cell vehicle Tuesday, an early version of the car it thinks will popularize fuel cell autos just as the Prius made hybrids mainstream.
“It is a very intriguing proposition for us,” said Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota’s U.S. sales arm. “We think it could be the best zero emissions solution that hits the market.”
The four-seater, which looks like a futuristic and aggressive Prius, is expected to go on sale sometime in 2015. There’s no word on what the price might be.
Although there is a dearth of hydrogen stations -- just a handful in California and some in pockets on the East Coast -- there are plans to build more as automakers start to sell fuel cell cars.
There should be 28 hydrogen station, spread across California’s metropolitan areas, by about the time Toyota is ready to bring the car to market in two years, said Catherine Dunwoody, executive director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership.
The cost of hydrogen should be equal to or less than gas long-term, Fay said.
The automaker said it will have a range of more than 300 miles and take just about three minutes to fuel, about the same time as a gasoline vehicle.
Toyota plans to show the car at the Tokyo Motor Show this month.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles drive a lot like electric cars. The fuel cells generate electricity which powers the motors on the car. But the devices are much lighter than batteries that run electric vehicles.
“There is no compromise in range or operating in the cold and it refuels a lot like a regular engine,” Fay said. “The driving experience is as good or better as a gas engine. It is quiet.”
Environmental regulators in the U.S. and abroad believe that hydrogen fuel cell cars will be an important tool in reducing carbon emissions and pollution.