Published on October 29th, 2019 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Why is Toyota banking on Fuel Cell?

Fuel Cell vs Battery Electric Vehicle, which makes more common sense in the long run?

Mirai literally means “future,” and its advanced innovations go well beyond its hydrogen-powered fuel cell system. This is the powertrain direction that Toyota is taking and it was clear at the Toyota Motor conference in Tokyo (which was held a day before the opening of the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show) where the all new Mirai was presented together with a range of commercial vehicles that are all using the latest fuel cell technology that Toyota engineers have perfected.

The Direction

Toyota engineers have worked tirelessly to push the boundaries of hydrogen technology, doing everything, including inventing a new way to weave carbon fiber to helping create the SAE standards used across modern hydrogen fueling stations

This investment in hydrogen is an investment in sustainable mobility for all where Toyota has opened the patents allowing it to be shared.

Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell DC-DC convertor
Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell bi-directional charging station
Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell charging station concept
Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell charging station_2
Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell charging station

The Patents

As of today, Toyota solely owns approximately 5,680 hydrogen-fuel-cell-related global patents. Approximately 1,970 licenses are related to the fuel cell stack, about 290 to the high-pressure hydrogen tank and about 3,350 to fuel cell system control technology.

No Emissions At All

Compressed hydrogen gas is combined in a fuel cell with oxygen from the atmosphere to produce electricity that is then stored in a battery. The only byproduct of that process is water, meaning hydrogen vehicles don’t expel harmful emissions.

Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell explained
Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology
Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Electric Drive

Despite the massive push towards electrification by most car manufacturers around the world, Toyota has forged ahead with hydrogen power. Toyota however remains bullish on electric cars and is in joint venture production with a few car manufacturers for battery electric drive vehicles. In June this year, Toyota moved forward by five years its goal of having electrified vehicles account for roughly half of sales.

But it still lags behind companies like market leader Tesla (TSLA) and immediate rival Volkswagen (VLKAF) in the battle to dominate electric vehicle production. Toyota sold only 1,000 electric cars last year compared to the 220,000 that Tesla shipped.

Much Less Range Anxiety

The latest Mirai has a revamped fuel cell stack that can store more hydrogen. That means the car can drive 30% farther than the previous generation, which had a range of 312 miles (502 km) on a full battery. Toyota did not say how long the new Mirai will take to charge, but the previous model took 3-5 minutes and this new model should take no more than 6-7 minutes. Far quicker than any fast electric charger around the world. 

Toyota said this all new Mirai is scheduled for launch starting in late 2020, initially in Japan, North America and Europe. Full details of its performance will be released at a later date.

Since launching in 2014, Toyota has sold about 10,000 Mirai cars globally.

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