Toyota Motor Corp is set to unveil a fuel-cell concept car that aims to offer 50 percent more driving range than its current hydrogen-powered sedan in a technology push that defies a rising wave of battery-driven vehicles.
Japan’s biggest auto manufacturer is targeting a 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) range for the Fine-Comfort Ride concept saloon under local standards, compared with about 650 kilometers for the current Mirai fuel-cell vehicle, according to a statement Wednesday. The concept car, to be introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show next week, will include artificial intelligence and automated driving features.
Toyota is continuing to champion fuel-cell vehicles as the ultimate zero-emission cars, even as the falling cost of lithium-ion batteries has lured a majority of automakers to plug-in technology in the face of ever more stringent environmental standards worldwide. China, the world’s largest market, said last month that it was working on a timeline to end the sale of internal-combustion vehicles, joining countries including France, India and the UK
While Japan has created a Hydrogen Society Roadmap to increase the number of fuel-cell vehicles on its roads to 40,000 by 2020, there are currently just 2,200 or so. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates the government will only achieve 60 percent of its target. To encourage the establishment of more refueling stations, Toyota is developing hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles, including a delivery truck it will use in a project with convenience store 7-Eleven Japan. A pair of Toyota fuel-cell buses began operation in Tokyo this year.
Toyota will display a new fuel-cell concept bus called Sora alongside the Fine-Comfort Ride saloon at the Tokyo Motor Show, which begins October 25, the company said in a separate release Thursday. The bus has room for 79 people including the driver, two more than its current bus. The concept has eight high-definition cameras monitoring the interior and exterior of the vehicle, LED lamps at the front and rear, fold-up seats, and acceleration control to prevent jerky starts. Toyota plans to begin sales of the bus from 2018, the company spokeswoman said.
Toyota aims to have a national fleet of more than 100 fuel-cell buses, mainly within Tokyo, before the city hosts the 2020 Olympic Games.