A couple of weeks ago I had talked about how Toyota has said it will rollout 100 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for testing by 2013. Now, at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, Toyota has said they will make “affordable” hydrogen FCVs available to the public by 2015.
According to Toyota North America spokesman, Irv Miller, “We plan to come to market in 2015, or earlier, with a vehicle that will be reliable and durable, with exceptional fuel economy and zero emissions, at an affordable price.”
The one caveat and it’s a big one is that Toyota says it will rollout these affordable vehicles if there is a hydrogen refueling infrastructure in place to support them. Now, this statement could have several meanings.
First, it could simply be that Toyota is blowing smoke since it knows that no nationwide H2 infrastructure will possibly in place by 2015, so this is simply a stall tactic. Second, if Toyota carries through with this promise it will put pressure on business and government to start in earnest building the needed infrastructure since the cars are ready.
Third, Toyota may mean a limited low production rollout of affordable hydrogen vehicles in fueling station cluster areas such as Los Angeles and New York. This scenario would make the most sense, because it would require the least investment by Toyota, would still put pressure on business and government and will still have the effect of showcasing its vehicles in two of the largest population centers in the U. S.
Toyota will most likely not make a profit on these vehicles. They will be “loss leader” items that will keep their name in the news and stimulate sales of their other vehicles. But, that’s Okay with hydrogen advocates such as myself. Whatever means the automakers can use to push H2 progress forward will appreciated by environmental advocates in the near term and profitable for the carmakers in the long-term.