Honda, Toyota Say You’ll Be Able To Buy a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Next Year

After billions of dollars and years of research, you’ll be able to buy a mass-produced fuel cell car next year.

That’s according to Japanese automakers Honda and Toyota, who both say they will bring hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles to the consumer market as early as next year.

The Toyota FCV Concept Makes its European Debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show

The Toyota FCV Concept Makes its European Debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show

Five seat sedan, Model S range

As the Nikkei Asian Review reports, Honda is currently finalising development of a five-seat passenger sedan which it said could be offered in Japan as early as November 2015. Although the vehicle’s wheels will be turned by an electric motor, electricity to power the motor will come not from a battery pack but from a hydrogen fuel cell stack and a tank of compressed hydrogen gas.

Honda says the tank, made of carbon fiber to help reduce weight, will hold enough hydrogen to enable a range of around 500 kilometers (310 miles) per tank. Like its rival Toyota, Honda is keen to point out that this is twice the range of most electric cars, although we should note that 310 miles is around one mile less than the official NEDC range for the top-spec all-electric Tesla Model S.

Like Honda, Toyota too says it will launch limited numbers of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in Japan, the U.S. and Europe next year.

Model S price

The similarities between Honda’s first mass-produced Hydrogen fuel cell car and Tesla’s all-electric Model S won’t stop at range, however: the price will be about the same, too.

Initially, Honda expects its fuel cell sedan to retail for under ¥10 million. At current exchange rates, that’s about $97,000 US. That’s Tesla Model S P85+ money. While we’ve heard rumors that Honda is even considering giving early adopting owners free hydrogen to power their cars in the same way Tesla offers its owners free use of its network of Supercharger stations, we’ve heard nothing official from Honda to confirm this.

It’s worth noting too that initial vehicles will likely go to fleet and governmental customers rather than individual private buyers. Like electric cars, it’s going to take a while before you’ll be able to walk into your local dealership and buy one.

Economies of scale?

Like the early days of electric cars, Honda and Toyota are predicting a slow start to hydrogen fuel cell cars, with Honda intending a global output of around 1,000 cars in the first year and 5,000 cars over the first five years of manufacture. Toyota, who has teamed up with General Motors in a joint Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle partnership, is more optimistic, talking of a much faster increase in production volume to tens or even hundreds of thousands by 2020.

Honda's Clarity FCV

Honda’s Clarity FCV

We note that this is a far slower ramp up in production than all-electric cars like the Nissan LEAF, which earlier this year reached a global output of 100,000 cars in just over three years of manufacture. We think this figure alone highlights just how slow hydrogen fuel cell vehicle rollout could be.

Furthermore, with such low volume production, we suspect it’s going to take longer before hydrogen fuel cell vehicles truly reach an affordable price, although Honda and Toyota are obviously keen to reach mass-market affordability within five years of vehicle launch.

What do you think?

Here at Transport Evolved, we’re keen to see any new vehicle technology which reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and decreases our carbon footprint. We also think that the future of transport doesn’t rely in any one vehicle technology or other, and if the hurdles of fuel cell vehicles can be overcome, we can even see a future where they coexist alongside other transportation forms like electric vehicles.

But will next year really be the dawn of the hydrogen fuel cell car? Or will something else happen instead?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • “Able to buy” vs. “offered” in limited numbers (~83/mo) could be telling. It will be interesting if coming generation of Honda and Toyota FCVs will ever be sold, or again only offered thru limited lease programs.nnFor example! the FCX Clarity FCV is listed at $600 per month for 36 months and offered at only three US dealers: to this, the Honda’s FCX was also only offered thru a limited lease program.n makes this next generation of FCVs different from previous FC generations? Both price and range seem similar to the previous generation. Perhaps a reduction in operational costs?, will there be reductions in tank and fuel cell stack volume? find FCVs interesting as they share electric motor drive train technology with all-electric vehicles. This means shared evolution of power inverter (DCu2013>AC) electronics and regen braking developments.

  • vdiv

    You mean the hydrogen bomb car, right? ;)nnWhat were the myths of the hydrogen fueled car as shown in “Who Killed the Electric Car?”nn years later those still seem true.

  • vdiv

    Oh, I really would love to see Honda and Toyota getting the US dealerships to sell and service FCVs especially considering their luck with plugins.

    • CDspeed

      They are making their own luck with plugins, all they’d have to do is commit themselves to building plugins and they’d be fine. Instead of acting like they know better, and continue to push alternatives that don’t work. Electric cars work with an already existing infrastructure, why spend trillions starting something so new no one has it.

  • Surya

    I can’t imagine many people wanting to buy one of these cars for the price of a Tesla. The range and price might be similar, but performance and trim won’t. And the biggest part is: you can charge your Tesla at home or at one of the many public chargers. There is (almost) no hydrogen infrastructure. So yes, it will be a (very) slow start. Best of luck to them, but I don’t see this taking off any time soon, if ever.

    • CDspeed

      I agree, they can price it close to a Model S, and give it a similar range, but no one will pay Tesla money for what will basically be a hydrogen powered Prius, or Civic.

  • CDspeed

    What are they going to sell them as, lawn sculptures?

  • Ad van der Meer

    It will be at the price point of a Model S, but will it have the space, looks and performance?

  • Chris O

    Toyota talks about increase in production volume to tens or even hundreds of thousands by 2020? That’s odd for a vehicle they also say won’t even be price competitive with electric vehicles until 2030:nn

  • Matt Beard

    I wonder if anywhere yet sells hydrogen for these vehicles, and if so for how much.