ith recently retired Toyota NASCAR driver Carl Edwards behind the wheel, the Land Speed Cruiser clocked an official one-way time of 230.02 mph (370.2 km/h) on a 2.5-mile (4-km) runway at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port. That speed blows well past the previous SUV world record claim of 211 mph (340 km/h), crowning the Land Speed Cruiser the speed king of SUVs – and given its top speed is faster than many six- and seven-figure supercars, that’s no dubious honor.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The District of Columbia’s top environmental official will be taking a spin in a new car that’s powered by air.
On Wednesday, District Department of the Environment Director Tommy Wells will speak at a news conference and take a test drive of a hydrogen-powered vehicle built by Toyota. The car is on a tour of the East Coast for events with politicians and environmental officials.
The Toyota Mirai is powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The car has a hydrogen tank and pulls in oxygen from the air. Through a chemical reaction between the two elements, the fuel cells create electricity that powers the car. The car produces no harmful emissions when driven, although the production of hydrogen for the tanks does create carbon emissions.
TOKYO plans to spend $385m on fuel-cell vehicle subsidies and hydrogen stations for the 2020 Olympics as part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to reduce his country’s reliance on nuclear power.
Japan’s capital will build 35 stations to fuel hydrogen-based fuel-cell vehicles and is in negotiations with Toyota and Honda to put 6,000 hydrogen cars on its roads by 2020, says Makoto Fujimoto, head of the planning team at the metropolitan government’s energy department.
Fuel cells are considered to be environmentally friendly because they convert hydrogen to electricity, leaving water vapour as a by-product.
Japan is putting resources into hydrogen power after suffering its worst nuclear disaster since the Second World War in March 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
Japan is looking to promote fuel cells on two fronts: automobiles and residential storage.
February 10, 2015
Japan’s push to develop hydrogen storage technologies may get a boost from Toyota’s decision to give away its fuel-cell patents.
The auto giant offered up nearly 6,000 fuel-cell patents last month “to increase performance, reduce costs, and attract a much broader market of buyers,” said Toyota senior vice president Robert Carter.
Toyota, which leads the hybrid auto sector with the Prius, began selling its first fuel-cell car, the Mirai (which means “future” in Japanese), in Japan last December. It plans to make the $57,500 sedan available in California and selected European markets later this year.
The patent giveaway could be interpreted as a bid to head off a competitive threat from Tesla, which is betting on battery technology and has also opened up its intellectual property assets to third parties.
I discovered the Mirai at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Even though its name could have been a bit flashier (what about the Kaze, Japanese for wind? Or, the Mizu, Japanese for water? Or Suiso, Japanese for hydrogen), Mirai was more than just the coolest thing I saw at the show. It and the hydrogen car may very well be the future of the automobile.
Mirai isn’t a one-off. Toyota is as serious as a lightning strike on a courthouse about advancing what it calls the coming “hydrogen society.” How serious? It’s giving away 98 percent of the patents for the hydrogen fuel cells, tanks, computer controls and refilling stations in the hopes that other car makers will join the hydrogen revolution.
If you can’t wait until October, you can lease a hydrogen car, referred to in the industry as fuel cell vehicles (FCV), right now, thanks to Toyota’s patent altruism: the Hyundai Tucson leases for $499 a month. Mercedes ended its pilot lease program and is now taking applications to buy a pre-owned B-class F-CELL hydrogen car.
Citing “dismal sales,” Hyundai has slashed the price of its Tucson FCEV by over $100,000 in the home market. The car originally sold for $179,509, but Korean customers can now buy one for the low, low price of only $77,189. “We decided to slash the car’s price, even if we make a loss, because we can’t make further investments or expand infrastructure amid dismal sales,” said Hyundai in a statement on February 2nd, reports Reuters.
Most of the reason for those dismal sales can be traced to the fact that there is currently only one hydrogen refueling station in all of Korea. The Korean government is sympathetic to Hyundai’s plight and promises more hydrogen station by 2025, but that may be too little too late.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government says it will have 100 hydrogen stations up and running by the end of this year, and many, many more filling stations in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Toyota’s FCEV, the Mirai, is priced at $56, 934, which is still $20,000 less than the Tucson FVEV, even after the price cut. Both cars lease in the US for $499 a month. The Tucson cannot be sold to a retail customer but a buyer for the Mirai can purchase one outright for $57,400.
Hyundai seems to have done everything wrong in its quest to become a player in the hydrogen car market.
“Mirai” means “future” in Japanese. It is the world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Fuel-cell vehicles, or FCVs, run on electricity generated by combining hydrogen with oxygen, with only water vapor created as byproduct. Although fuel cell cars can gather oxygen from the air, they need to carry highly pressurized hydrogen tanks.
At the Consumer Electronics Show 2015, Toyota announced it would make 5,680 patents related to fuel cell drive systems available free of charge as a means to help other automakers build fuel cell cars and help suppliers open new hydrogen fueling stations. There is currently very little infrastructure to support filling hydrogen tanks around the country.