Toyota along with the Department of Energy (DOE), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) decided to test the automaker’s hydrogen SUV for mileage and range in real world conditions.
A little over a year ago, I had talked about the Toyota Highlander Hydrogen Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle – Advanced having a 516 mile range. In real world conditions, however, which includes stop and go driving during rush hour traffic in Los Angeles, the Highlander today is able to achieve a 431 mile range.
This also translates to 68.3 miles per kilogram (equivalent to a gallon) for the 14 hour round trip from Torrance, California to Santa Monica to San Diego and back. The point of the drive was not to test the best case scenario that the Toyota Hydrogen FCHV could achieve.
Rather the point was to check out how the fuel cell hybrid vehicle performed under real world conditions which included rush hour bumper-to-bumper traffic, driving in stop and go fashion on surface streets, accelerating rapidly on the highways and decelerating at a quick pace.
The NREL and SRNL engineers calculated the driving range along with average miles per gallon equivalent under all driving conditions.
According to the Toyota press release, “For comparison, the 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid achieves an EPA-estimated rating of 26 mpg combined fuel economy and has a full-tank range of approximately 450 miles. With premium grade gasoline currently priced at about $3.25, the gasoline-powered V6 Highlander hybrid is estimated to travel approximately 26 miles at a cost of about $3.25.
“Currently, hydrogen gas pricing is not fixed, but DOE targets future pricing at $2 to $3 per kilogram. Therefore, the FCHV-adv is estimated to travel approximately 68 miles at a projected cost of about $2.50 – more than double the range of the Highlander Hybrid, at equal or lesser cost, while producing zero emissions.”
Critics often point out the high cost of hydrogen gas right now (which will come down over time). What these same critics fail to point out however is that a hydrogen vehicle getting 68 mpg is using ½ the fuel of a vehicle getting 34 mpg, so even at current prices hydrogen cars fair comparatively well to gasoline powered vehicles.
With this testing, Toyota is making a solid case for hydrogen cars and vehicles. No battery electric car today can come anywhere near the range of the Toyota Highlander Hydrogen FCHV – ADV.