We know when and where Toyota (NYSE: TCM) will still start selling its fuel cell powered car. The unnamed vehicle is scheduled to go on sale in Japan next April.
Even though the vehicle doesn’t have a name, it does have a price: around $50,000, or about the same price as a BMW 3 series. Part of the reason the vehicle is being sold in Japan is simple: the Japanese government is planning to give buyers a $20,000 tax credit, Reuters reported.
There’s no word on when the vehicle will go on sale in the United States. Another reason the vehicle is popular in Japan is that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is promoting it. Abe recently test-drove a Toyota Hybrid and a Honda FCX Clarity car that was also powered by a fuel cell. Abe even played pump attendant and filled the cars’ tanks with hydrogen.
Honda is also planning to start marketing a fuel cell powered vehicle in Japan. The range will be limited though, because there are only around 30 hydrogen refueling stations in Japan, but there are plans to have as many as 100 hydrogen stations in Japan by 2015.
The hydrogen refueling stations are extremely expensive – it costs around $5 million to build one – but the Japanese government is planning to spend around $200 million to build a network of hydrogen refueling stations.
It isn’t known who will buy the fuel cell vehicles, but some experts expect that cab companies and other operators of fleet vehicles will start buying them. It isn’t known if Toyota will start building other kinds of fuel cell powered vehicles, such as delivery trucks or vans or not.
A successful launch of fuel cell powered vehicles in Japan could pave the way for their adoption in the United States. Some observers think Toyota will begin marketing fuel cell vehicles in California sometime next year.
Toyota has a lot to prove with the fuel cell vehicles, particularly with Elon Musk betting heavily on electric cars and his Giga Factory.
One U.S. company that could benefit from the rollout of fuel cell vehicles is New York-based Plug Power, which builds fuel cells for such prosaic uses as forklifts. Plug Power also builds hydrogen gas pumps for fuel cells, and it recently posted a picture of a hydrogen gas pump for cars on its website.
Disclaimer: Car Insurance Samurai Writer Daniel G. Jennings owns shares of Plug Power.
It looks as if the fuel cell revolution is here. One has to wonder how successful it will be and how it will affect electric cars.
Prices for fuel cell powered vehicles will also have to come down for FCVs to become a widely adopted means of transportation. Toyota also has a very huge marketing job cut out for it. The automaker will have to explain to the public what fuel cells are and why they need them. That might be even tougher than developing a new technology.