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Toyota And Honda Join Forces With Government For Fuel Cell Dominance

Illustration for article titled Toyota And Honda Join Forces With Government For Fuel Cell Dominance

With Toyota lunching a fuel cell vehicle next March, Honda and the government jumped on board in order for Japan to become the leading force behind hydrogen power in the next 20-30 years.

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After Toyota and Honda began leasing fuel cell-powered cars in Japan 12 years ago, the project came to a halt due to technological difficulties and bold predictions. But things have changed since then. And while Audi is working on synthetic fuels, the Japanese are betting on fuel cells big time.

Reuters reports that while Toyota's hydrogen car will cost about $68,600 when it goes on sale in Japan in March, both the carmakers and the government are determined to push prices down to an average of about $20,000 by 2025.

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According to Ryuichiro Inoue, a professor at Tokyo City University and an expert on the auto industry, this is going to be a long-term investment:

Even after 10 years, fuel cell cars are likely to be less than 10 percent of the Japanese market. This isn't a strategy to talk about for the next 10 years, but for the next 20 to 30 years.

Illustration for article titled Toyota And Honda Join Forces With Government For Fuel Cell Dominance

Toyota only expects tens of thousands of fuel cell cars to be sold annually a decade from now, but looking back at the first Prius, Managing Officer Satoshi Ogiso and Executive Vice-President Mitsuhisa Kato had this to say:

Unless you are willing to accept losses initially, it's not possible to increase sales.

This is the start of a long challenge to make hydrogen a standard feature in society and to make the fuel-cell vehicle an ordinary automobile

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Brave statements indeed. With the Japanese premier of Toyota's car soon to be followed by US and European sales, the Japanese government pushing for ample subsidies and tax breaks while also aiming to create 100 hydrogen fuel stations by end-March 2016 in urban areas.

With Hyundai and Daimler also spending fortunes on hydrogen technology, can this be Japan's next big development that changes mobility forever?

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If it's big in Japan, who knows? After all, who wouldn't want a zero emission vehicle with a massive range and quicker refills than what a battery powered car can ever offer?

Photo credit: Getty Images

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DISCUSSION

turbolence1988
Turbolence1988 Loves Magic Turn Circles

This is an exciting time. We're going to have 3 approaches to fuel competing for long-term viability, and with major resources behind each to further their development, the next generation of cars is going to be exciting.

- Toyota and Honda, fresh off their hybrid kick, are pushing hydrogen and fuel cell technology. Even the South Korean manufacturers are joining the foray. The distribution network is limited, but the technology proven. There is a lot of growth potential to be had.

- Nissan and Tesla, the most dominant names in EVs, are pushing through to try and bring about better battery technology. More capacity, more durability, more safety. The idea, while still very much a novelty, has widespread recognition and the distribution network is expanding rapidly across the globe.

- Mazda and Koenigsegg, among others, are ready to take conventional gasoline engines to the next level. Generations of refinement, re-engineering the old designs, new approaches to hybrid systems...all the while using the same fuels we've been powering our cars with for the last 50 years.

Who will come out on top? Does it matter? There's a fresh breath of innovation in the industry, and every manufacturer pushes us closer to a better future of motoring.

(For the record, I'm supporting whoever keeps the third pedal.)