Toyota is going doggedly into the FCEV future with new investments in fuel-cell technology, and it doesn’t seem to care if fuel cells really are the way forward or not.
I can’t help but admire its commitment, even in the face of mounting evidence like this report from the University of Cambridge that BEVs offer a better return on investment in the long run. And yet Japan’s largest carmaker is funneling as much as 12 billion yen ($115 million) into FCEVs, per the Japan Times.
The resources Toyota is channeling into FCEV development come on the heels of the second-generation Mirai, its latest FCEV passenger vehicle. We are fans of the new Mirai, which released as a reimagined zero-emissions car that contrasted with the first-generation Mirai’s dated design. The cars bear hardly any resemblance to each other, and they provide a good example of a recent redesign that proves to be a glow-up.
The second-gen Mirai proves EVs don’t have to look a certain way, not bulbous, boring or bland. Underneath, the two Mirais are mostly unchanged aside from the increased range of the second-generation car, which can travel roughly 30 percent further thanks to a third hydrogen tank. That third tank was developed by Toyota’s own Toyoda Gosei Company.
The subsidiary developed the tank with a pressure-resistant resin that has worked so well that Toyota is building a whole new plant to produce the tanks. Toyoda Gosei’s president, Toru Koyama, says Toyota wants future commercial vehicles to use the new tanks to bolster their range.
Other Toyota subsidiaries are producing better components that can increase FCEV efficiency, from stronger stainless steel, to more efficient air compressors to energy-saving semiconductors.
When you look at these developments and lump them together, take into account Toyota’s commercial FCEV plans. It’s pretty clear that the carmaker is neither slowing nor backing away from the technology just yet.
I want to know exactly what Toyota sees in FCEVs that most other carmakers don’t. As of now, Toyota seems to be leading the hydrogen charge, but where that will lead the company is still up for debate. Still, good on them for having the gall — maybe foolhardiness — to pursue alternate technologies.