Toyota Thinks Fuel Cell Vehicles are better than Electric Cars

Hydrogen-powered fuel cells, and not electric cars, are the future of transportation. That’s the word from a top executive at Toyota, who went out of his way to defend fuel cells and attack the man behind Tesla, Elon Musk.

The attacks on fuel-cell vehicles are reminiscent of the criticism of hybrid vehicles that occurred when the Prius first hit the road, Bob Carter; Toyota’s vice president for automotive operations told the press at the Detroit Auto Show. Carter dismissed Musk and other critics of fuel cells as naysayers.

Unlike Musk, Carter thinks fuel-cell vehicles have a bright future. He thinks that fuel-cell powered cars will be as common 10 years from now as hybrids are today.

“Ten years from now, I have a hunch our fuel-cell vehicles will be viewed in similar terms. We truly believe it has the same potential as the first Prius,” Carter said.

Public and private partnerships will provide enough fueling stations for all the hydrogen cars of the future, Carter predicted. The fuel cell in such a vehicle makes electricity directly from hydrogen and produces only water vapor as pollution.

Hydrogen Gas Stations Coming to California

Carter also believes that the infrastructure will expand to provide the hydrogen fueling stations needed for fuel-cell cars. He noted that if just 15% of the gas stations in California converted to hydrogen, they would provide enough gas to power a fuel-cell vehicle for every resident of the Golden State.

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The state of California plans to make $200 million available for the building of hydrogen fueling stations for fuel cell cars, Carter noted

Toyota and the University of California have worked out a strategy that would make fuel cell stations available for every resident of California, Carter said. The study found that just 68 strategically placed hydrogen gas stations would meet the needs of most drivers.

Carter is one of a number of auto industry executives who think that fuel-cell cars are superior to electric driving vehicles because they have a comparable range to gasoline and diesel-powered cars. Electric cars are hampered by a short range because of battery storage.



Carter was apparently responding to Musk and Volkswagen’s Jonathan Browning, who have been bad-mouthing fuel-cell vehicles in comments to the press in recent months. Carter actually attacked Musk, Browning, and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn by name.

Is Toyota About to Start Selling Fuel-Cell Vehicles?

Carter’s war of words with Musk and Ghosn seems to confirm rumors that Toyota is about to start selling fuel-cell vehicles to the public. Hyundai will begin selling fuel-cell powered SUVs in California in 2014.

“In 2015 we will bring this technology to market,” Carter said at a recent press conference. He claimed that fuel cells cars are cheaper and more efficient than electric cars.

Toyota's Fuel Cell Concept CaR

Toyota’s Fuel Cell Concept Car

It looks like the speculation that fuel-cell cars are about to be sold to the public is true. Toyota has reportedly been experimenting with fuel-cell vehicles for over a decade.

The age of fuel-cell vehicles is about to begin, and if it is, smog could be a thing of the past. The only emission that fuel-cell vehicles put out is a cloud of water vapor.