2015 Toyota FCV

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Toyota , a known force to be reckoned with in the alternative-fuel automotive world, is releasing its zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, aptly named the FCV, in the summer of 2015. Limited to California initially, Toyota asserts an impressive 310-mile range. Also, the company has announced a partnership with FirstElement Fuels, to make refilling more convenient, with 19 new hydrogen refueling stations coming to the California area. Expect 100 stations in a decade’s time. Also, Toyota claims that re-filling will only take five minutes; significantly quicker than a recharge in a Tesla or Nissan leaf , also zero-emission vehicles.

Out here in California, the newest fad is always in the spotlight, and this new FCV should certainly turn a few heads and make people take notice. Also, being a zero-emission vehicle, it will be eligible for Carpool Lane access. And, hey, anything to shave a few minutes off an LA commute is invaluable. Take it from this Los Angeleno.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Toyota FCV.

Exterior

Toyota FCV
Toyota FCV
Toyota FCV

With sleek, aerodynamic lines, the car certainly looks the part of a wind-cheating hyper-miler. Love it or hate it, it’s obvious to any bystander that this isn’t your average Yaris . This is a decent-sized car, with a length of 191.7 inches and a 109.4-inch wheelbase. Toyota claims that it will accommodate four adults comfortably. Aerodynamic information has not been released yet, but expect at the very least well below a 0.30 Cd.

Love it or hate it, it's obvious to any bystander that this isn't your average Yaris.

The front end is interesting; it seems that the Lexus spindle grill-themed treatment has been moved over the the front air-intakes, which are huge and dramatic. This is a grille-less car, but there is plenty of open space towards the left and right of the front bumper, which is most likely there to aid aerodynamics. The side profile is swoopy as well, with a curvy accent line sweeping up towards the rear-rocker panels; this mimics Lexus’ own IS . According to Toyota, the side view is supposed to convey air-to-water transformation, a key characteristic of a fuel cell vehicle.

The theme continues in the rear, with similar, though smaller air-outlet scoops which hint at the Lexus LF-A, and a long, thin taillight that stretches the entire rear of the car. Futuristic looking? Check. I can’t help but be reminded of the villains’ cars of the classic 1990 movie Total Recall when viewing this car, especially from the rear.

Interior

The DARV system will even be able to calculate a "score" based on safe driving practices.

The futuristic, swoopy theme carries over inside as well, with several TFT screens and the latest driver assistance technology. Interior trim information is limited. However, notable is Toyota’s newest generation Driver Awareness technology, called DARV 1.5 (Driver Awareness Research Vehicle), which actually tracks the body frame of the driver, known as "driver lock-in." This technology will allow the passenger, for example, of the FCV to use features that would be automatically "locked out" from the driver while the car is in motion. For example, the system will "know," and allow the passenger to program the navigation, etc., whereas the driver would be "locked out" as long as the car is in motion. Toyota claims that this will help the driver, passengers, and vehicle all work together in harmony to create a safer driving experience. The DARV system will even be able to calculate a "score" based on safe driving practices.

The jury is out whether drivers will embrace this system or despise it. At the very least, it seems nicely integrated, and, in Toyota tradition, should get the job done flawlessly.

Drivetrain

Toyota FCV

The FCV uses two high pressure fuel stacks, which equates to roughly 100kW.

Like a hybrid-electric vehicle, the FCV has a small battery pack for acceleration and regenerative braking. However, instead of an internal-combustion engine, hydrogen fuel cells are used to compress hydrogen into energy, while emitting nothing but water vapor. The FCV uses two high pressure fuel stacks, which equates to roughly 100kW.

This equals a Prius-like 134 horsepower when converted into the standard American rating. Not surprisingly, expect Prius-like acceleration as well. Toyota claims a 0-to-60 sprint of around 10 seconds, and a top speed of around 100 mph. Not exactly face-flattening, but then again, who buys cars like these for raw performance? In typical Toyota fashion, the FCV should drive just fine.

Prices

Pricing has not been officially set yet, but Toyota has announced that it will cost Japanese buyers roughly 7 million yen. Based on conversion rates on 7/10/2014, that’s around $69,000. However, Toyota hints at a cheaper cost for the U.S. once it arrives. Still, expect the FCV to cost well over $50 grand.

Competition

Hyundai Tuscon Fuel Cell

Hyundai Tucson

Base Tuscon shown here

Hyundai is fast at work as well with a hydrogen-powered vehicle. The Tuscon Fuel Cell has been released here in California, with the first lessee taking delivery this past June. While this a crossover SUV design and not a sedan, they are both practical hydrogen-powered vehicles. The Hyundai Hyundai has slightly lower range of 265 miles, and takes ten minutes to refuel, as opposed to the FCV’s five. Hardly significant differences, yet still worth mentioning. Also, as of July 2014, the only way to acquire this Hyundai is through a 36-month lease at a very reasonable $499 per momth with $2,999 down.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

The Leaf was the first full zero-emission EV to be released in the United States. It is a practical, innovative offering, though somewhat limited with a range of only roughly 85 miles. Range anxiety may pose a problem for buyers who make more than simple trips to the grocery store. The Leaf performs relatively well, however, with a comparable 0-to-60 time and plenty of right-now torque. Prices start at $28,800.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

While not a hydrogen-powered vehicle, this is by far the most successful zero-emissions EV. Teslas combine stellar, almost unprecedented range — for an EV — with blistering performance. Expect a slightly lower, 270-mile range with the 85 kWh battery but with dramatically better performance from the 416-horsepower electric motor. The Tesla Tesla Model S with the 85 kWh battery will reach 60 mph in under five seconds. However, also expect dramatically longer recharge times than the five minutes it takes to refuel the FCV. Prices start at $69,900.

Conclusion

Toyota FCV

If past successes in Toyota’s alternative vehicle endeavors have any bearing, the new FCV should do quite well. Toyota engineering is some of the best in the industry, and we have no reason to believe it won’t be every bit as good of a hydrogen-powered car as the Prius is as a regular hybrid. Expect to see more than a few of these on the road in California once they arrive next summer. Look for a detailed road test as soon as we can get our hands on one.

So, what do you think of the Toyota FCV? Would you pay $60k+ for this car? Let us know in the comments section!

LOVE IT
  • Swoopy, futuristic looks
  • 310-mile range with zero emissions
  • Toyota engineering
LEAVE IT
  • Pricey
  • Just average performance
  • Hydrogen refueling stations somewhat sparse (for now)

Press Release

Driving helps make lives safer, greener and more convenient at Toyota’s “Experience the Future of Mobility” exhibit, open now at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival. Toyota is staging the North American debut of its “Car of the Future” at the annual conference. Unveiled earlier this week at a press conference in Japan, the zero-emission hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) will be available for sale to customers in California in summer 2015.

Toyota FCV

True to the Festival’s 2014 focus on imagining the future, the Toyota FCV is an important step forward for zero-emission vehicle technology. An electric-drive, mid-size, four-door sedan, the vehicle won’t require customers to compromise on safety, price or performance. Instead, the FCV will travel approximately 300 miles on a single fill-up of hydrogen, which takes less than five minutes.

In addition, Toyota is taking steps to ensure that owners of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be able to fill their tanks, no matter what brand is on the hood. In May, the company announced it had entered a financial relationship with FirstElement Fuels to support the long-term operation and maintenance of 19 new hydrogen refueling stations in California.

Toyota FCV

“Our society is on the cusp of a revolution in personal mobility,” said Osamu Nagata, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America. “Slowly but surely, new technologies are changing how we think about automobiles and transportation — from intelligent, automated systems that team up with drivers to improve safety, to zero-emission vehicles that emit nothing but water vapor. These technologies will help save lives, improve the environment, create jobs and help the U.S. maintain technical leadership in a field that is an important contributor to economic growth.”

Nagata will discuss the company’s vision for the future of mobility on the Festival’s main stage on June 28 during a one-on-one interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, Financial Columnist, Editor-at-Large, New York Times; Co-anchor, CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

In addition to the FCV, Toyota is presenting a comprehensive vision for the Future of Mobility with an interactive exhibit that brings to life emerging automated vehicle technologies and cutting-edge safety research.

Toyota FCV

The display includes a preview of the Toyota’s newest generation Driver Awareness Research Vehicle (DARV 1.5), part of the company’s ongoing research into the dynamics of driver distraction at the Collaborative Safety Research Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Toyota DARV 1.5 uses advanced technology, including Microsoft’s Surface and Kinect and custom biometric software and algorithms by Infosys, to help driver, passengers and the vehicle itself work together as a team to achieve safer driving.

The technology allows for features such as “driver lock-in,” which tracks the driver’s body frame and automatically enables or disables features based upon who is interacting with the navigation panel. The Toyota research vehicle also explores new ways to use emerging wearable devices, such as smart watches, to control key vehicle functions in an effort to understand the potential impact of these devices on auto safety. In addition, the Toyota DARV 1.5 looks at new ways to create a safer driving environment by measuring driver behavior and providing a driving “score” based on safe driving choices.

Aspen Ideas Festival attendees will also experience:

A large interactive wall that uses image capture to display the activity of visitors moving about the exhibit, while sharing how next-generation automated safety technologies will team up with drivers to improve safety;
Educational information about the technologies, a fueling station to enjoy pour-over coffee, and outdoor living room relaxation area.

Toyota FCV

Toyota is a presenting underwriter of the tenth annual Aspen Ideas Festival, the nation’s premier, public gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to engage in deep and inquisitive discussion of the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times.


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