Toyota, the Japanese automaker that single-handedly popularized hybrid cars with its Toyota Prius model, has announced that it's abandoning electric vehicles in favor of hydrogen.
This is a surprising move, especially considering California's plan to ban the sale of new gasoline cars within the next two decades as well as the considerable rise in popularity of electric vehicles.
Toyota has been a leader in green automotive technology, so what could have prompted this change of heart? We'll look into some of the reasons why as well as the financial practicality of owning and driving a hydrogen-powered vehicle.
Toyota's Move to Hydrogen-Vehicles
Toyota's reasoning is twofold: First, Toyota sees hydrogen as a more versatile fuel source than electricity. Hydrogen can be used to power everything from cars to trains and even ships.
Second, Toyota believes that hydrogen-powered cars are better suited for long-distance travel than electric vehicles. Electric cars typically have a range of only 200 to 300 miles before needing to be recharged, while hydrogen cars can travel for 300 to 400 miles on a single tank.
The company is betting that hydrogen will eventually become the preferred fuel source for transportation, and it wants to get ahead of the curve by investing in this technology now.
Why is hydrogen better than electricity?
Hydrogen has a few advantages over electrical power. Many proudly proclaim that Hydrogen Fuel Cells are a better alternative to electric car batteries.
1. As we mentioned before, Hydrogen is more versatile. Electric cars are only able to power vehicles, while hydrogen can be used for a variety of applications.
2. Hydrogen is more energy-dense than electric batteries. This means that a hydrogen car can travel much further on a single tank than an electric car can on a single charge.
3. Hydrogen cars refuel much faster than electric cars. It only takes a few minutes to refill a hydrogen tank, while it can take hours to recharge an electric car's battery.
4. Hydrogen cars emit no pollutants when they're running. The only emission from a hydrogen car is water vapor.
5. Hydrogen cars are much quieter than electric cars. This is an important consideration for people who live in urban areas and don't want to deal with the noise pollution of a traditional gasoline engine.
Given all these advantages, it's no wonder that Toyota is betting big on hydrogen. The company has already developed a hydrogen car, the Mirai, and it plans to sell 30,000 of these vehicles each year.
It remains to be seen whether hydrogen cars will catch on with the general public, but Toyota is clearly committed to this technology.
Why Toyota's Hydrogen-Vehicle Strategy Makes Sense
Given all of these advantages, it's easy to see why Toyota is betting on hydrogen. The company is clearly thinking long-term and wants to be at the forefront of this new technology.
In the short term, there are some challenges Toyota will need to overcome:
- Infrastructure: Hydrogen infrastructure is still very limited, so customers will only be able to refuel their cars in a handful of places.
- Cost Parameters: Electric cars also have the advantage of being much cheaper to produce than hydrogen cars. However, as hydrogen technology improves and becomes more widespread, these costs are likely to come down.
- Audience Adoption: Toyota will need to convince customers hydrogen is a better option than electricity. This won't be easy, given electric cars are much more popular right now.
In the meantime, Toyota is continuing to invest in hybrid and electric vehicles, so it's not completely turning its back on these technologies. The company is simply diversifying its bets to hedge against the possibility electric cars don't become as popular as some people think they will.
What does this mean for the future of the auto industry?
Toyota's move to hydrogen cars is a sign the auto industry is starting to take this technology seriously. Hydrogen has been touted as the "perfect" fuel source for years, but it has always been held back by lack of infrastructure and high costs.
If Toyota is able to overcome these obstacles, it could pave the way for other companies to follow suit. This could lead to a major shift in the auto industry, with hydrogen cars eventually becoming the norm.
Of course, this is all speculation at this point. It's impossible to say for sure what the future of the auto industry will look like. However, Toyota's decision is a big step in the right direction, and it will be interesting to see how other companies respond.
Other Hydrogen Vehicles on the Market
Toyota isn't the only company selling hydrogen cars. There are a few other options on the market, including:
- The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell: This SUV was one of the first hydrogen cars to be sold in the US market. It has a range of 265 miles and can be refilled in about ten minutes.
- The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell: This sedan has a range of 366 miles and can also be refilled in about ten minutes.
- The Honda Isuzu: Honda recently tested these hydrogen-powered trucks on public roads in Japan.They claim it will be able to run for about 600 kilometers on just a single tank of hydrogen.
If you're interested in buying a hydrogen car, you have a few different options to choose from.
Is a hydrogen vehicle right for you?
If you're considering buying a hydrogen car, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
First, as we mentioned before, the refueling infrastructure is still very limited. This means you'll only be able to refuel your car in certain areas. Second, hydrogen cars are still relatively expensive. The cost of a hydrogen car is similar to the cost of a luxury electric car.
If you're looking for an environmentally-friendly vehicle and you're willing to pay a premium, a hydrogen car might be right for you. However, if you're on a budget, you might want to wait until the price comes down or the refueling infrastructure improves.
Luke Williams writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, QuoteInspector.com. His passions include insurance and studying hydrogen-powered and electric vehicles.