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Toyota plans hydrogen-powered SUVs and pickup trucks

Sunday 29 July 2018 10:13 AM

Toyota
Toyota



Agencies:
Toyota is doubling down on its investment in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, designing lower-cost, mass-market passenger cars and SUVs and pushing the technology into buses and trucks to build economies of scale. As Toyota cranks up improvements for the next generation of its Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV), expected in the early 2020s, it is hoping it can prove wrong rival automakers and industry experts who have mostly dismissed such plans as commercially unviable.

The maker of the Prius, the world's first mass-produced "eco-friendly" gasoline-hybrid car in the 1990s, says it can popularize FCVs in part by making them cheaper.

"We're going to shift from limited production to mass production, reduce the amount of expensive materials like platinum used in FCV components, and make the system more compact and powerful," Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Mirai, said in an interview with Reuters. It is planning a phased introduction of other FCV models, including a range of SUVs, pick-up trucks, and commercial trucks beginning around 2025, a source with knowledge of the automaker's plans said.

The automaker declined to comment on specific future product plans. But it has developed FCV prototypes of small delivery vehicles and large transport trucks based on models already on the road, as Tesla develops a battery-operated commercial semi-truck from the ground up.

"We're going to use as many parts from existing passenger cars and other models as possible in fuel cell trucks," said Ikuo Ota, manager of new business planning for fuel cell projects at Toyota. "Otherwise, we won't see the benefits of mass production."

The company is also betting on improved performance. Toyota wants to push the driving range of the next Mirai to 435-466 miles (700-750 kilometers) from around 310 miles (500 kilometers), and to hit 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) by 2025, a separate source said.




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