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Why Tesla Motors Is Laughing at Toyota's $70,000 Hydrogen Car

Toyota said this week that the new FCV Sedan, an electric car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, will go on sale in Japan next spring at a price of almost $70,000. It'll come to the United States and Europe next summer. Source: Toyota

Toyota  (NYSE: TM  ) said this week that its new FCV Sedan will be priced at about seven million yen when it goes on sale in Japan next spring. 

The FCV Sedan is a "fuel cell vehicle". It's an electric car, but unlike the popular Model S from Tesla Motors  (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) , it doesn't have batteries. Instead, it's powered by a fuel cell, a device that chemically extracts energy from hydrogen gas and turns it into electricity.

As Motley Fool senior auto analyst John Rosevear points out in this video, the FCV Sedan represents an interesting bet for Toyota. Toyota may be the world leader in hybrids, but it's moving away from battery-electric cars and toward fuel cells instead -- even as Tesla CEO Elon Musk mocks fuel cells as a dead-end idea. Who's right?

A transcript of the video is below.

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John Rosevear: Hey Fools, it's John Rosevear, senior auto specialist for Toyota said on Wednesday that its all-new fuel-cell-powered car, which they're calling the FCV Sedan, fuel cell vehicle, will go on sale in Japan "before April 2015" and will come to the U.S. and Europe a few months later, next summer.

Toyota also revealed the new car's final exterior design, which looks a lot like the FCV Concept show car that we saw last fall. And they said that it will be priced at about 7 million yen when it goes on sale in Japan next spring, that's a little under $69,000 dollars.

Not a cheap ride, in other words. But it's still significant.

The FCV Sedan is an electric car, but it's not like the Teslas or the Nissan  (NASDAQOTH: NSANY  ) Leaf or Ford's  (NYSE: F  ) Focus Electric, it doesn't have batteries. Instead, it has a fuel cell, which is a device that chemically extracts the energy from hydrogen gas and turns it into electricity. The only "emissions" this car produces is water vapor. Toyota has been moving more aggressively toward fuel cells, they seem to have decided as a company that battery-powered electric cars are not where they want to place their big bets.

But this car is expensive, at the price Toyota announced on Wednesday this thing is going to be competing head on with the entry-level Tesla Model S, which for most people is a completely different and much more compelling proposition.

Of course the thing with the Tesla is like a lot of luxury cars, that may be the starting price but once you add the features you really want it's considerably more expensive, but still. If you're someone who is considering spending $70,000 on a green car, what are the odds that you'll choose this over a Tesla?

The other issue is of course the lack of infrastructure, there are only a few hydrogen refueling stations in the U.S. at the moment and most of them are in southern California, if you live in Texas or Nebraska or Rhode Island or really anywhere that isn't the Los Angeles metro area, you're going to have some trouble when you run out of gas.

Now, there may turn out to be government subsidies for buyers of these, and that may bring the price down to something a little more competitive with higher-end hybrids and so forth, but I wonder how many people will actually be willing to take a chance on this.

And I think it's also interesting that Tesla's CEO Elon Musk is really really disparaging fuel cells, he calls them "Fool Cells" and he doesn't mean "Fool" in the way we mean it here. Of course it's in his interest for battery-electric cars to catch on more widely, so he has an interest in talking down competiting technologies. More battery-electrics would mean more recharging points and so forth and with the Tesla battery gigafactory I think they're really hoping to sell batteries to other automakers.

But it is very interesting that Toyota, who is the global leader in hybrid cars and knows a thing or two about batteries and electric propulsion, is making this strong move toward fuel cells instead. I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops. Thanks for watching. 

Read/Post Comments (36) | Recommend This Article (30)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 2:31 PM, btc909 wrote:

    Still no mention of what it will cost to fill one of these.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 3:38 PM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    First off Tesla is not popular. The Ford Focus is popular. Tesla has sold a handful of cars because they are too expensive (just like this Toyota will be). Saying they are popular just shows bias and means this article is questionable.

    There's talk about a simple way of splitting ammonia for hydrogen powered cars. So far it's just like talk about new battery tech that will allow faster charging and lower costs but it's now a race. The output would be just water and nitrogen.

    Tesla is trying to show a strong face. Musk knows that FCVs are just one break through away from leaping over EV technology. Toyota is hedging it's bets by continuing to develop hybrid tech and FCV

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 4:20 PM, deeageaux wrote:

    Tesla is popular. In 2013 it outsold every full size luxury car in the USA including MB S-Class,BMW 7 Series,Audi A8,and Jaguar XJ. Comparing sales of a full size luxury car to an economy class compact is simple ignorance or bias.

    Like former Secretary of Energy Dr Steven Chu has said fuel cell vehicles need four separate breakthroughs to become economically viable. That is highly unlikely to happen. Fuel cell vehicles have been 20 years away since the 1970's. With current technology FCEVs have a theoretical maximum of 40% efficiency from "well to wheel". Tesla is at 68% right now with a theoretical maximum for BEV at 85%.

    Toyota,like Hyundai, will probably include Hydrogen fuel in the price of the car's lease. They,like Hyundai, will not sell the vehicle to the public lease only. And no option to buy at end of lease either.

    Hyundai only offers their FCV to residents of Los Angeles County and Orange County.

    Toyota FCV will probably get around 70 miles per kilogram of hydrogen. In Southern California a kg of H2 cost ~$12.50. Toyota has said the range will be ~300 miles but have not stated a storage tank capacity.

    BTW There are batteries between the fuel cell and the electric motor. The electricity generated by the chemical reaction in the fuel cell is too slow for quick acceleration, so there is an electricity storage buffer,i.e. batteries.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 4:27 PM, phillipzx3 wrote:

    "First off Tesla is not popular. The Ford Focus is popular."


    People that have no idea Ford builds an electric version of the Focus, know of the Model S. I see more Model S's around town than BMW M5's.

    To me, that shows it's very popular.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 4:28 PM, so75 wrote:

    I'll admit that I probably read into your comment a bit too much. I am just tired of so many people not realizing or "caring to realize" how many subsidies big oil and other companies get. When we have a company actually trying to make a positive difference in the world, all they get is attacked for reasons that are somewhat silly in the grand scheme of things. I figured you were one of those people and for that...I do apologize.

    However, I just say to you: "Do some research". You respond with attacking me PERSONALLY! Calling me immature, ignorant, arrogant and having a lack of manners!?!?!?! Wow!! It is YOU who should learn how to respond with a measured response and it is YOU who should learn some manners. Good grief. Talk about coming back "thermo-nuclear" after just a "pebble toss" towards you. All of those words you just used to describe me can EASILY be reversed towards you. Think about THAT next time.

    But to end this on a positive note....I think we both have learned something today hopefully. I will try to do better and hopefully you will too. Have a good day.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 4:33 PM, so75 wrote:

    Um..whoops. Ignore my I'll admit comment. Wrong article. Wish I could delete it.

    Anyway...@CrazyDocAl, I have two coworkers that own a Model S. The one got rid of their BMW, the other...their Audi. They love...and I do mean LOVE their Model S.

    The Model S is very popular, very highly rated and has a big backlog.

    Comparing the Model S to a Ford Focus is apples and oranges my friend. The Model S is a luxury vehicle. I don't understand why so many people keep ignoring that fact. There will be a cheaper version in a few years as long as short sighted people stay out of Elon's way.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 4:36 PM, fuelsman wrote:

    Not only are their batteries required for the use of fuel cells, the electric drivetrain is typical of electric cars - electric motor, regenerative brakes, and 20-40 kWh battery. The high cost is not only due to the metal catalysts in the fuel cells it is also the cost of large battery. Considering that 90-95% of hydrogen comes from and will come from Natural Gas the gallon price of Hydrogen is around $5-7 per gallon without taxes. (Hydrogen from Ammonia? Where's the Ammonia coming from?). It has always been the fuel cells advocates mantra about hydrogen from water, a process that highly inefficient and costly even if solar power is used. Fuel cells are just another way to use hydrocarbons with lots of Carbon dioxide emissions due the production of Hydrogen. Even if there is breakthrough in solar power it will still be cheaper and more efficient to charge a battery than to make Hydrogen.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 4:48 PM, fmulk9 wrote:

    tesla at best gets around 200 miles to the charge while the fuel cell can be anywhere from 300 to 400 miles before you need more hydrogen and that my friends can be made and stored on demand. Fuel cells are the future and tesla knows it but has sank so much money into batteries that they have no choice but to continue that way. Oh and what about replacing the batteries every 4-5 years at a cost of $2,500 and where do you dispose of them??? Fuel cells last forever!!!

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 5:19 PM, Albertico wrote:


    1. Many Tesla Model S owners have gotten around 300 miles a charge and the car can easily achieve that if you drive at an average of 55 mph. Only when you go 80+ mph does the estimated range drop close to 200 miles.

    2. Toyota themselves said the FCV will get an average of 310 miles of range on a tank of hydrogen. The latest 400 mile a tank claim is based on Japanese test cycles done by Toyota, will be extremely optimistic compared to when the EPA tests the car.The Japanese range and economy test cycle is even more inaccurate of real world range than European test cycle for which the Tesla Model S got over 300 miles of range...

    3. Fuel Cell cars use batteries. It is not as large a battery as that in a full BEV, but it is still required to store the electricity produced by the chemical reaction of the fuel cell, and to power the electric motor. This info can be found in the Toyota website so is best to do the research on it next time.

    4. Tesla batteries got an unlimited mile warranty of 8 years. The Tesla Roadster which released in 2008, 6 years ago, not a single owner has reported their range dropping below 90% of the official range the batteries had when they were new. That is battery technology and maintenance that is 6 years old. So not only do you not have to pay anything for 8 years to replace a battery, it is guaranteed (with Tesla batteries at least) that after 8 years you will have over 90% of their original range.

    5. Fuel Cells do not last forever; the chemical reaction with hydrogen which creates electricity wears slowly at the fuel cell and the efficiency of energy conversion decreases over time... Again, could have found this info with little research

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 5:29 PM, mikeflores2000 wrote:

    Hydrogen is derived from natural gas which lacks storage and distribution networks on the scale we need. Lithium Ion is a finite commodity from Chile and other countries. Given a choice, electric wins.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 5:53 PM, DaveGAus wrote:

    The following riddle needs to be solved before Fuel Cells become viable. If the FCV were a gasoline car, would it sell?

    The FCV is now a $70K low hp Camry, that uses special gas only available in LA. Lets say GM works and works and works, and lowers price to $30K (say with Gov incentives), and improves HP to be on par somehow. Would it sell? No. The avg person won't purchase a car you can't fuel. You wont get the first car off the lot.

    So what is the tipping point, how many gas stations are necessary for the first average consumer to switch?

    Well, there are 121,000+ US gas stations, so to convert them is 1/4 Trillion dollars. Let's say you need 20K stations for people to feel reasonably comfortable. That is $50 Billion dollars to have minimal options for the first reasonable consumer to switch.

    However, now lets reverse the question and ask "how many FCV's are needed to make that 20K stations viable"?

    There are ~300,000,000 US cars and ~121,000 gas stations, so each gas station needs ~2500 cars to be viable, which comes to 50Million cars needs to be sold for 20K fueling stations.

    So GM and Toyota need get the price down, get the hp up, use 50B to build infrastructure, sell 50 Million FCV's cars, all the while without making a better car... just a different car. Wow.

    That is a daunting task. My guess is people will just go electric with fuel costs at 25% of gasoline, virtually infinite range, and free charging when on travel. And Porche-topping performance to boot.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 5:58 PM, jcdLA wrote:

    When the Japanese perfect the technology, US auto makers will be paying the licensing fees. Just like they pay for hybrid. Japan getting off the limited resource fuels and leading the way on hydrogen and solar. There will be no shortage of fueling stations in Japan or Korea.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 6:03 PM, dannystrong wrote:

    Good to see the Fool's slavish praise of Elon Musk has remained as cloying as always.

    The guys at Toyota (who have sold rather more cars than Mr. Musk has) believe that battery-only cars are a dead-end. But the Fool believes in the magic of The Elon, and that he justifies a sneeringly condescending article like this. (One might wonder if the Fool is trying to make sure their own position in Telsa is being supported by such articles. Hey, wait, they are!)

    I'd take a chance on the hydrogen car, Mr. Rosevear. I'd rather pick a car of the future, rather than a car, like the Tesla, that has a great 'future' behind it.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 6:27 PM, morg777 wrote:

    Don't know what dannystrong is talking about. Unless you live in Los Angeles, there is no way to fuel up your hydrogen Toyota. There are a lot more electrical charge stations all over the country, at homes, retail stores, hotels, rest areas, parking garages, than there are hydrogen sellers. Even if Tesla folds, and they might, there are other electric vehicle makers than just Tesla.

    And Toyota isn't invulnerable to mistakes either. How many people were killed and injured due to that still unresolved sudden acceleration issue?

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 6:30 PM, Rotomoley wrote:

    Tesla and Elon are smug for a lot more reasons than just the high price of fuel cell cars and the lack of infrastructure, although the latter is more than reason enough. No offense, but this article was written by someone without a whole lot of technical knowledge. At least as big problems comes from the chemical and physical properties of hydrogen. Safe to use in space, but frankly not one Earth and certainly not on a mass scale. The biggest problem is the very low energy density which requires storage under very high compression to get enough to be useful. Not so bad you say, how about hydrogen is exothermic on expansion and auto ignites with even a microscopic hole in the container. Further, that is burns at steel smelting temperatures and its flame is invisible, making firefighting best suited to Superman. Imagine just one parked car in any garage that happens to get a leak. Toyota and Honda have invested billions in fuel cells and would like to get a little return. Better chance with cold fusion.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 6:57 PM, nosmiley wrote:

    I guess I'm probably a bigger fool than most.

    Is it not workable, to extract hydrogen from water ?? That was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the article headlines. Hydrogen fuel stations make me think of the Hindenburg. I realize the car probably could explode , but it would be considerably less explosion than a city block destroyed, from storage tanks sitting around.

    Yeah, I'm an old guy, and don't get out much, so feel free to laugh.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 7:04 PM, jswap1 wrote:

    Why is Tesla laughing? Remember the famous quote:

    "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 7:31 PM, weaponz wrote:

    @nosmiley - That is what they want you to believe, but reality is making hydrogen out of water is uneconomic. You would be paying more than gasoline for fuel, the cheapest way to make hydrogen is fossil fuels. And that is why the fuel cell lobby asked that 90% of fuel cell funds go to fossil fuels.

    Also, long term storage is not possible. Hydrogen passes through everything. So you need to make sure you don't run out of hydrogen from it just sitting there.

    @jswap1 - Tesla is laughing for a simple reason. Even by Toyota's own estimates, fuel cell cars are far too behind technologically compared to BEVs. So even if all the issues of fuel cells are resolved, they would be inferior to BEVs in almost every single way.

    BEVs are the future, Fuel Cells will not even be on the market on time to even compete.

    Tesla affordable EV 2016/2017.

    Toyota affordable Fuel Cell car 2025+

    And for all those citing the range of the fuel cell car, as mentioned that is using the JC08 Japanese test, not EPA test. In the EPA test, Nissan leaf scores 75 miles, in JC08, Nissan Leaf gets 141 miles.

    Tesla Model S gets 265 miles on the EPA test. I expect that the Toyota Fuel Cell car will get less than that on the EPA test.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 9:00 PM, rodgerolsen wrote:

    The hydrogen is derived from natural gas in the US. In Russia, the Ukraine, and Poland we just install a $500 dual gas conversion kit and run the cars on either gasoline or natural gas. We don't have to spend $70,000 on a car or convert the natural gas to hydrogen and build hundreds of new fueling stations to do it.

    Of course, we don't have the EPA, the crazy environmentalists or Washington to deal with. I'm certain that the $500 conversion would cost many thousands once the EPA gets around to "regulating" it.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 10:28 PM, Putaro wrote:

    Infrastructure will have an effect. Many people living in Tokyo do not have a garage per se and hence no place to charge an electric vehicle. Many people live in large condos so the condo association would need to approve and install multiple chargers. I live in Tokyo and we rent a spot in a parking lot several blocks from our condo. There's no electricity available at the parking lot. So, while I like Tesla and I wouldn't mind having an EV or plug-in hybrid, it's simply not an option for me. Something you can fuel up in a few minutes is much more attractive. Also, Tokyo is very dense so a small number of hydrogen fueling stations would cover a large number of people and potential buyers.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 11:24 PM, cobraman69 wrote:

    Let's put all the technical issues aside for a moment and let's assume that the cars are both equal, technically speaking. If you had the money to spend on either a $70K Toyota or the more expensive $100K Tesla, which would you choose? The Tesla is visually appealing and an attractive vehicle inside and out. The Toyota pictured above, not so much.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 12:24 AM, rav55 wrote:

    The majority of hydrogen on the planet is combined with oxygen as water.

    Hook a photo-cell to a fuel cell and run the fuel cell backwards and you water electrolysis O2 and H2 are released. The hydrogen is either stored on-board and how much you feed back through the fuel cell determines your speed. Of course a battery is required to buffer the stored energy.

    Horizon Fuel cells have this on the market for years.

    PEM Hydrolyzers are here:

    The above are scence demo units for hoobyiest but the technology os the same. Just connect a pure water source and a photocell. Hydorgen comes out.

    Tech kits are below.!advanced-technical-kits/c72...

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 1:07 AM, Petronilus wrote:

    People have better things to do than driving to gas stations and driving to hydrogen stations will just be even worse because there are a lot fewer of them.

    EV cars shine by the fact that you can stop wasting time at a refueling stations except in the event you go further than the range of the battery. In a Model S that means NEVER for a lot of people and let's say you have a couple if longer trips per year, then Tesla Motors offer free charging at an increasing number of charging stations.

    I really can't see what is exciting about hydrogen powered cars considering their lower efficiency making them less green than EV cars and even hybrid gas powered cars.

    Since a fuel cell's maximum power drain output is much inferior to a high capacity battery like that in Model S, expect that fuel cell powered cars with a small battery will be more like a Prius than a Model S in terms of acceleration performance.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 3:07 AM, greenknight32 wrote:

    Musk is laughing because he knows the next generation of batteries - already developed, not somewhere in the future - will make hydrogen look totally pathetic. Already-available tech can create li-ion batteries with 4 times the capacity of current types, and it undoubtedly will get even better in coming years.

    With the Japanese government's backing, they may develop the infrastructure to make HFC vehicles a success in that country, but I don't see it happening worldwide.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 3:37 AM, FGKaye wrote:

    The problem with Toyota's idea is that it's dependent

    on so called " Black Hydrogen ". That is Hydrogen

    made from the Koch Bros'.

    If they really wanted to impress somebody, they

    would make it run on " Green Hydrogen ". That is

    Hydrogen made from splitting Hydrogen from water,

    a much cleaner & more abundant source, even if it

    doesn't have the Political Clout of " Black Hydrogen ".

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 4:35 AM, siquijorisland wrote:

    hydrogen fuel is the fuel of the future . real clean energy resulting in water upon combustion.

    Future generation small nuclear plants will use waste heat to produce hydrogen in an completely emission free cycle.

    hydrogen generators exist today however the fuel is not readily available.

    can you imagine mission free 24 hour a day electricity from a small fuel cell located in you garage of back porch.

    truly green technology

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 4:51 AM, terminaltrip421 wrote:

    it's incredibly unfortunate the number of people who think that zero emissions from the tailpipe somehow make the car green. both EV and FC vehicles leave a footprint. to me battery electric is the greener choice. green electricity coming through entirely renewable means is a very real possibility (heck put solar panels on your roof and you now know where a chunk of yours is coming from) while the hydrogen this will run on is dependent on fracking which pumps toxic and carcenogenic chemicals directly into our immediate environment and whatever byproducts are the result of extracting the hydrogen from natural gas.

    I absolutely abhor toyota for pushing this garbage. please don't be fooled.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 5:20 AM, Riggerwo wrote:

    Telsa is a "flash in the pan"...they are not even a minor player in the automobile business...their cars are very expensive..and very few ever get built. I have my eyes on the Hydrogen cell....until the battery technology improves significantly then all electric cars have no future other than runnning around town. Both electric and hydrogen are GREEN....BUT they both still have a carbon foot there is no 100% green energy source out there.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 10:30 AM, mikab61 wrote:

    Audi Laughs at Tesla! Audi's new A8 direct injection diesel has been averaging over 40 mpg and beats Tesla on every cost of ownership study. Not only is it more luxurious, it is cheaper, lighter, has 4-wheel drive, can be fueled fully in 5 minutes, you are not limited to where you can go, or who can fix it if it breaks, no waiting in line to re-charge your car, they don't self combust and burn to the ground, and Audi's TDI clean diesel was named the greenest technology in the world beating out hybrids and full electric cars. Just wait till the new Audi TDI Diesel/Electric Hybrid hits the market. It will be Tesla who?

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 10:45 AM, JeffNY001 wrote:

    I am not going to comment on the bad economics of this thing, or the terrible logistics of owing one. Both have been covered above pretty well. But Toyota not only expects people to pay $70,000 for a car that is hard to fuel, and when it can be re-fueled is will use expensive hydrogen, but they also expect people to be driving a car THAT ugly?? I mean, really, look at that hood that does not even appear to fit on the car properly! And those horrendous exaggerated front grills….yikes!

    Which would you rather be seen in? A sexy, sleek, high performance, cutting edge Model S? Or driving around town in an “FCV” (great name too BTW) looking for a hydrogen pump you can slide your high-limit credit card into?

    Toyota never had a reputation for great style (reliability, yes), but this car brings new meaning to “ugly duck” (apologies to ducks). Talk about a Dork-Mobile. Come on Toyota, this whole car is crazy on almost every front. You can do better than this. Unless someone invents a Magic Hydrogen Maker that you can include free with the car, this thing is going nowhere. Wake up (Elon isn’t the only one laughing).

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 10:45 AM, greenknight32 wrote:

    It's not "until the battery technology improves", it's when the newer tech is implemented. EV batteries are guaranteed for at least 8 years, so new types don't get installed in cars until they've been tested long enough that the car makers have proof they will last that long. Google "li-imide" and "graphene-silicon anode" - these are technologies that are already developed. The former creates batteries that are much less heat-sensitive, longer-lived, and have 25% more capacity - and you can buy them for your laptop now. The latter currently give 4 times the capacity of previous lithium batteries, and that could theoretically go to as much as 10 times, with commensurate increase in charging speed.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 11:43 AM, ffbj wrote:

    It's just a compliance vehicle built for CA. They don't have an all electric vehicle, and Tesla is clearly the leader in that market, so they built a FCV, cause they can and they are Toyota. Seems a bit arrogant that they know the future of personal transportation, which will be the FCV, according to them.

    Not going to happen, as some of the more astute comments have pointed out. EV's just beat on efficiency hands down, plus your housed is wired for electricity, and most don't have gas pumps, or hydrogen dispensing stations in their place of residence.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 12:06 PM, JimZ1 wrote:

    Everyone seems to gloss over just how delicate fuel cells really are and how expensive they are to repair or replace when they do go bad.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 2:29 PM, drachir555 wrote:

    It's sooooo ugly! No wonder Elon is laughing. Only samurai living on Jupiter would ever buy such a thing. LOL !!! No wait, do they have roads on Jupiter?

    No seriously folks. I think the Toyota execs in Japan are suffering from radiation sickness. Fuel cells will never be a cost-effective form of alternate energy. It will always be too expensive to produce hydrogen gas (from either balck or green sources). Then there's the lack of efficiency in the combustion process. Finally there's the inherent danger of driving around with a compressed gas bomb under your hood. Can you imagine a car crash with one of those things? No wonder they made it so ugly. It just screams, "Look out! I am a Hindenburg on wheels!!!"

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 10:13 PM, industrldisease wrote:

    I'm siding with the old guy no smiley. Extracting hydrogen from water is possible and a company Hypersolar has been teaming with a university in California to get a preliminary process up to speed. Yea it could be a few years out - but can you imagine deriving power from sunlight and water on a local basis. possibley more disruptive than photovolataic. As much as i appreciate Musk his comments have to be seen in context as pretty defensive and self serving.

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2014, at 5:09 PM, CntrlSrcutinizer wrote:

    It's puzzled me why TOY would go down this rat hole with FCV when there is zero infrastructure out there to fuel these cars and the prospect of building it out is quite expensive. It's just not a recipe for success.

    They are already the global leader for hybrids. So why not just make BEVs like Tesla does?

    The answer is simple. Even with proper maintenance, gasoline engines wear out after a few thousand hours of operation. They loose compression and start burning oil. With a bit of clever engineering they can make enough of the rest of the car wear out, or at least look bad, around the same time, so people will replace the whole car. This is still true in any hybrid that uses an ICE engine, so they are happy to sell hybrids. They know that every 5 or 10 years you will come back for a new one.

    But what if cars became more like houses? There is no shame in living in a 50 year old house, if it's well maintained.

    The AC induction motor in a Tesla has 1 moving part. There are no brushes. It could last 100 years. With proper anodize coatings, aluminum body panels and other components could be made impervious to rust and salt. They could last forever too.

    The laws of aerodynamics do not change with fashion trends. We might well zero in on an optimal shape for the body of a 4 door sedan which does not need to change either.

    I can easily see BEVs turning into something that gets repainted and reupholstered every 10-15 years but stays in service indefinitely. This is great for consumers, but not so good for companies that make & sell 83 million new cars each year.

    Of course fuel cells could be made as durable as a BEV, but if you are forced to make a product that will undercut your main business then you would choose the one that is least likely to succeed.

    That is the real reason Toyota backed away from BEVs and made the FCV. (It helps explain the butt-ugly styling of the car as well)

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John Rosevear

John Rosevear is the Fool's Senior Auto Specialist. John has been writing about the auto business and investing for over 20 years, and for The Motley Fool since 2007.

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