Forget electric, Toyota’s bets lie in hydrogen

Just as most of the industry is pushing for electric vehicles in order to reduce auto emissions, Toyota is banking on hydrogen fuel cells as its zero-emission option. 

Toyota believes that hydrogen is a more practical energy source due to batteries being only suitable for short urban commutes. 

Out of the approximately 10 million vehicles Toyota sells around the world, only 4,000 fuel-celled Toyota Mirai have been sold since late 2014, with roughly half being sold outside of Japan.

Hydrogen fuel cells don’t suffer from the EVs’ main drawback of limited range. Although, the Tesla Model S can go about 480 kilometres on a single charge, but this isn’t the norm, standard EVs usually run out of charge a lot quicker.

Toyota’s chairman, Takeshi Uchiyamada, believes hydrogen is an ideal, stable fuel for a future low-carbon society.

“Hydrogen doesn’t exist in the natural world on its own, but you can create hydrogen from various materials,” he said.

A fuel cell mixes hydrogen with the oxygen in the air to generate electricity that can power a motor. Ultimately, the idea is to convert energy from renewables like wind and solar power into hydrogen.

Unlike a gas-powered internal combustion engine, the only byproducts from a fuel cell are electricity, heat and water. There are no emissions of pollutants that can cause global warming. 

Toyota and other manufacturers pursuing hydrogen fuel cells face some significant hurdles. Japan has 28,000 EV charging stations but only 92 hydrogen fuelling stations.

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