Hydrogen-powered cars may seem like a science fiction pipe dream, but Toyota has just made the idea a reality with the debut of its new hydrogen electric-powered FCV. The four-door sedan, which will go on sale in 2015, runs on a hydrogen fuel cell capable of producing up to 100kW of electricity. What’s more, the cells can store enough energy to get up to 300 miles on a single fill-up. Toyota says the FCV can even be used to power a home for up to a week in an emergency situation.
Instead of belching out pollutants like standard gasoline-powered vehicles, the FCV produces nothing but simple water vapor. The vehicle’s strange front end design isn’t just to help make the FCV standout. Its gaping maw of a grille actually houses ducts that pull in the air required to help power and cool the FCV’s fuel cells. Unlike its all-electric counterparts, Toyota says charging the FCV will take between three to five minutes as opposed to the hours it can take to recharge an electric vehicle.
Toyota says it spent 11 years testing various iterations of the FCV to ensure it can handle anything a gas-powered car can take. In the process the automaker racked up roughly 1 million miles on its prototypes and managed to cut development costs for its high-tech powertrain by staggering 95 percent.
Part of that cost savings comes from the fact that Toyota used many of the components and mechanics it developed for its gas-electric and all-electric Prius. As a result, the automaker was not only able to control cost, but ensure that the FCV drives like a normal car. In fact, Toyota says the hydrogen car will accelerate from 0 to 60 in 10 seconds.
In order to power the FCV, a network of hydrogen fueling stations will have to be installed. As the initial launch of the sedan will take place in California, the state is helping to fund a total of 100 stations by 2024, with at least 60 coming online by 2016.
Toyota has released pricing information for the FCV, but chances are it’ll cost more than your average Corolla. We’ll bring you our hands-on impressions of the FCV live from the show floor here at CES 2014.