Toyota’s first production fuel cell vehicle is edging closer, with the Japanese automaker presenting a thinly veiled concept version of the upcoming zero emission car at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show earlier today. The concept is the FCV, a production version of which is scheduled for launch in 2015 and promised to have a driving range and refueling time comparable to that of a conventional gasoline-powered car.

Fuel cell cars are essentially extended-range electric cars, where a hydrogen-powered fuel cell stack serves as the range extender instead of a conventional internal combustion engine. Toyota believes such as a solution is ideal for the challenges of energy sources and emissions, as the vehicle produces zero emissions during operation and hydrogen is abundant, albeit not in isolation.

The FCV concept on show in Tokyo this week features Toyota’s own fuel cell stack and a pair of high-pressure hydrogen tanks. It’s roughly the size of a Camry and will be capable of driving about 310 miles using a full load of hydrogen. Toyota says the FCV could also be able to power an average Japanese home for more than a week using the same amount of hydrogen.

The fuel cell stack develops a peak output of around 100 kilowatts (134 horsepower), but there’s no mention of how much power the electric motors driving the FCV have. Toyota has mentioned that the concept is fitted with a high-efficiency boost converter, which increased the voltage so that the size of the electric motor could be reduced.

Toyota FCV concept, 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

Toyota FCV concept, 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

The new technology has come at a cost, however. Instead of the previous $50,000 estimate, the production FCV is now expected to cost almost double that figure. Once launched, the car will be sold initially in four key urban centers in Japan (Tokyo, Chukyo, Kansai and Fukuoka). Later, it will be offered in parts of the U.S. and Europe.

Despite there being a serious lack of hydrogen fueling stations around the globe, and by the looks of things that won’t be changing anytime soon, Toyota thinks fuel cell vehicles will sell in the tens of thousands annually during the next decade. Honda also plans to launch a successor to its FCX Clarity fuel cell car by the same 2015 deadline and will be previewing the car with a concept at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show later today.

While other automakers may not have the same level of confidence in the technology, they’re still hedging their bets by developing fuel cell vehicles of their own. BMW has partnered with Toyota to develop the tech, while General Motors and Honda have formed a partnership and so have Ford, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz.


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