Toyota has announced that they have been able to cut costs on their fuel cell vehicles by about 50% since the mid 2000s and what this translates into is the first retail hydrogen model with a price tag of only $50,000. The costs were accomplished by limiting the amount of platinum used in the fuel cell vehicles and finding cheaper ways to produce the thin film used in the fuel cells and the carbon-fiber hydrogen fuel tanks.
Hydrogen vehicles have received much criticism due to their expense and this news may bring along some needed support for the advanced technology and, possibly, more funding. Hydrogen vehicles have had bouts of decreased funding due to the criticism and have fallen behind the funding for electric cars in the U.S.
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“Our target is, we don’t lose money with introduction of the vehicle,” Yoshihiko Masuda, Toyota’s managing director for advanced autos,” said in Torrance, California. “Production cost should be covered within the price of the vehicle.”
The first retail hydrogen model will be a sedan with a driving range equal to a gasoline powered car “with some extra cost,” Yoshihiko Masuda said in an interview. He added that productions costs have been reduced to one tenth of the expected costs and would have to be cut by an additional 50% before retails sales start.
Toyota isn’t the only automaker attempting the fuel cell car either. Honda Motor Co., Daimler AG, and Hyundai Motor Co. have all come out and stated they would have fuel cell vehicles available for retail sale by 2015. This breakthrough in cost reduction may just be the push needed to increase the support for fuel cell vehicles.