Toyota launches hydrogen-fueled sedan

September 15, 2015 byColleen Barry
Toyota launches hydrogen-fueled sedan
The new Toyota Mirai is displayed on the first press day of the Frankfurt Auto Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. The car show runs through Sept. 27. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Toyota is taking the next step in its quest for carbon-free travel with the launch of the Mirai hydrogen-fueled sedan.

The Japanese brand that pioneered the hybrid gas-electric powertrain sees cars as the end-game, following and full-electric vehicles.

The region's new CEO, Johan van Zyl, told reporters on the sidelines of the Frankfurt auto show on Monday that "It's not a question of if, it's a question of when," will go mainstream.

Toyota Europe expects sales of between 50 and 100 Mirai's this year and next, with 47 ordered to date. It is being sold only in Britain, Germany, Denmark and Belgium, where Toyota is working on getting in hydrogen pumping stations with local partners.

Toyota Europe sales chief Karl Schlicht said that current customers include governments and companies looking to reduce their carbon emissions. He expects the technology to be affordable for average consumers by 2025.

Toyota Europe last year sold 880,000 cars, up 3 percent from a year earlier. Twenty percent of those were hybrids. Schlicht forecasts sales will be down 1-2 percent this year due to the economic slowdown in Russia.

Van Zyl expects hybrid sales to grow with the launch at Frankfurt show of the new RAV4 small SUV, which for the first time will be offered also with a hybrid powertrain, joining the Yaris, Auris and restyled Prius.

Explore further: Hyundai sees green future in hydrogen-powered cars

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lynvingen
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 15, 2015
Toyota has totally lost it when it comes to styling, never mind the mind boggling complexities and inefficiencies when it comes to using hydrogen as energy bearer, this new Toyota looks like a rolling nightmare! Seeing the car at a local dealer, I wish I had never seen it but it cant be un-seen. I regret having looked at it, it made me sick to look at. The new Prius is not much better, and is perhaps a worse offense because unlike this hydrogen-monster, which hopefully only sells in the tens or hundreds, the Prius is aimed to sell millions.
MR166
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 15, 2015
"Toyota Europe sales chief Karl Schlicht said that current customers include governments and companies looking to reduce their carbon emissions."

Governments are a great potential customer for this car. Who else has the excess cash to purchase and fuel such a car? It's not like governments have to actually account for the money they spend.
gkam
1.6 / 5 (7) Sep 15, 2015
Yeah, . . and I'll bet it scares the horses!
nathj72
5 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2015
@Iynvingen The massive dislike you have for hydrogen based energy storage does not make sesnse. Hydrogen for energy storage has potential. Currently batteries are a joke when it comes to energy storage measured in MJ/Kg. Lithium ion batteries get 0.95MJ/Kg compared with 142MJ/Kg for hydrogen. Toyota justifies this line of development because they see a potential future in using hydrogen as an energy storage medium. Batteries may turn out to be the best solution but you cannot know for certain unless you try to develop and overcome the problems with fuel cells.

@MR166 The cost of fueling the cars appears to be similar to gasoline from what I can find. The infrastructure to do it is more costly though.
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (6) Sep 15, 2015
It's not like governments have to actually account for the money they spend.
@Mr
GAO
http://www.gao.gov/

https://en.wikipe...y_Office

you might not like it,but gov't are held accountable by the people...
just because the people are too lazy, or ignorant, or [insert adjective here] to actually bind together to affect change doesn't mean they're not accountable
Metlman
4.5 / 5 (8) Sep 15, 2015
Regardless of what your opinions may be on the viability of Hydrogen Fuel Cells as a mass-market automotive powertrain, what is impressive is that this technology has been in continuous development by Toyota for over 20 years. Many critics gave up years ago on the concept as a time-wasting gimmick, but Toyota seems serious about bringing the technology to mass adoption, even opening up their patents and pursuing alternative means of Hydrogen production (most prominently producing Hydrogen from Waste).

Now maybe Hydrogen in the long term is not viable, but you have to remember this is the same company that popularized the Hybrid powertrain (which is now found in ultra-luxury supercars). Hydrogen Fuel Cells could be a serious mass-market competitor to Battery Electric Vehicles, and their potential should not be ignored.
antigoracle
2 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2015
Yeah, . . and I'll bet it scares the horses!

Whoaaaa... donkey. Glad you like it.
Got those solar panels yet?
MR166
3 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2015
"@MR166 The cost of fueling the cars appears to be similar to gasoline from what I can find"

I do not see how that can be possible. Do you have any links, Thanks.
MR166
2 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2015
"you might not like it,but gov't are held accountable by the people...
just because the people are too lazy, or ignorant, or [insert adjective here] to actually bind together to affect change doesn't mean they're not accountable"

Yea that makes immoral spending OK doesn't it.
Captain Stumpy
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 16, 2015
Yea that makes immoral spending OK doesn't it.
@mr
maybe in your book
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2015
Hydrogen for energy storage has potential. Currently batteries are a joke when it comes to energy storage measured in MJ/Kg. Lithium ion batteries get 0.95MJ/Kg compared with 142MJ/Kg for hydrogen.


Now mention what the volumetric energy density is.

Lithium batteries: 2.43 MJ/L
Hydrogen gas NTP: 0.0127 MJ/L
Hydrogen gas 5000 PSI: 2.7 MJ/L

And it's half as efficient to use than batteries, so you actually need twice as much.

Even if you have liquid hydrogen at -253 C you still won't get much more than 12 MPG out of a small hatchback running on hydrogen. Where batteries weigh you down, the hydrogen takes up so much volume that your entire car has to become either full with hazardous cryogenic liquid, or pumped up to pressures that would make a scuba diver scared.

Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 16, 2015
Hydrogen Fuel Cells could be a serious mass-market competitor to Battery Electric Vehicles, and their potential should not be ignored


Fuel cells, yes, but not hydrogen fuel cells. SOFCs will get you there faster because they're not limited to plain hydrogen.

This is an important consideration, because the limiting factor is the fuel infrastructure. An SOFC can run on ordinary propane you pick up at a fuel station, or even lighter refill gas, so you're never stranded anywhere without fuel.
docile
Sep 16, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
nathj72
not rated yet Sep 16, 2015
@MR166 When I googled it a few sites said the cost and the wiki for hydrogen economy gives it under 'Current hydrogen market'.
nathj72
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2015
@Eikka
First off hydrogen for automotive is being stored at 700 bar, not the 344 bar (5000PSI) you list. This gives an energy density of 5.6MJ/L. Gasoline is hard to beat at 32.4MJ/L. I listed it as weight because it is more important for fuel economy to minimize vehicle weight.

Hydrogen stored as a liquid is not he only method to store it. This is an area that requires significant R&D. For example, Hydrogen stored chemically can increase the density per litre. A litre of gasoline has 64% more hydrogen than a litre of just hydrogen.
SamB
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2015
I was once involved in a 6 month test of industrial forklifts using drop in fuel cells. These worked very well and in fact they powered the forklifts much longer than the large heave 72V batteries they replaced. The scientists who were spearheading the study told me that Hydrogen was very very cheap and the many natural gas producers were giving it away rather than flare it off. I think this technology has huge potential. The hydrogen tank for the forklifts were about 4' long and 1.5' in diameter, made of carbon fiber to hold the tremendous pressure of the liquid hydrogen.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2015
First off hydrogen for automotive is being stored at 700 bar, not the 344 bar (5000PSI) you list.


That's hardly the point. 5000 PSI is already a ridiculously high pressure that requires expensive reinforced composite bottles and rigorous safety management.

Compressing the hydrogen to such huge pressures when you're filling a tank is also difficult, because the gas heats up tremendously when you squeeze it, which also results in a loss of energy. That's why scuba tanks are often filled submerged in water. The other reason is that the water absorbs the energy if they happen to burst.

Hydrogen stored chemically can increase the density per litre.


But then we're really in the realm of synthetic hydrocarbon fuels, like power-to-methane schemes, and such fuels are not usable in cars that use PEM fuel cells that we are seeing developed right now.
Eikka
not rated yet Sep 16, 2015
The hydrogen tank for the forklifts were about 4' long and 1.5' in diameter, made of carbon fiber to hold the tremendous pressure of the liquid hydrogen.


That was not liquid hydrogen but compressed hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen expands 851 times in volume as it boils, and there's no tank that can hold the pressure - at least none that would also be thermally insulating enough. Reason being that liquid hydrogen is so cold that it makes everything brittle.

Liquid hydrogen tanks are designed to be thermally insulating first to slow down the boiling, and vent any excess gas. In other words, they're delebrately made to leak continuously to prevent a pressure explosion. When in use of course, the gas goes to the engine. When they sit, they leak.

MR166
5 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2015
Most of the H2 produced today is made from natural gas. Thus there will be no real Co2 or fossil fuel savings until H2 can economically be produced from water and transported to the filling sites. Energy and infrastructure wise it makes a lot more sense to natural gas as a transportation fuel.

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