About a week ago I talked about Japan getting serious about hydrogen cars. Now they have just upped that commitment.
First, 10 Japanese energy companies including automakers and gas suppliers have announced that they will put up 100 hydrogen fueling stations in Japan by 2015. Because of economies of scale, the price of building these stations will drop to approximately 1/3 the current price.
The hydrogen filling stations will center around the cities of Tokyo, Fukuoka, Aichi and Osaka. Right now in the Tokyo vicinity there are a dozen H2 fueling stations. Aichi, Osaka and Fukuoka are all south of Tokyo. Two other strategic locations north of Tokyo that need to be considered for hydrogen fueling stations are cities such as Sendai and Morioka.
Now, if this isn’t enough, Toyota’s executive vice president for research and product development Takeshi Uchiyamada has announced that by 2015 the Japanese automaker will be selling hydrogen cars for around $50,000. Currently, it costs Toyota around $100,000 to build a hydrogen vehicle so this may be a conservative estimate.
Now, I know there are people who will say that $50,000 is too expensive and they want one of the first leading edge transformational vehicles for around $9,999 plus a pair of Ginsu knives. But, realize that right now many gasoline powered vehicles carry the $50,000 price tag and this price will be cheap for a vehicle that is truly transformative.
So, the race is one between Japan and German (plus the European Union) to see who will be the first to build a legitimate hydrogen refueling infrastructure that will change the automotive culture as we now know it.