Future of Toyota FCV faces challenge over uncertain subsidies

Article by Andrew Christian, on July 2, 2014

One of the challenges for Toyota Motor Corp. when it rolls out its new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is the lack of a robust refueling network in Japan in April 2015 and in the United States and Europe in summer that year. Toyota would be leaning on government subsidies, particularly in the US and Europe to help attract buyers to its FCV, which will have sticker price of f ¥7 million ($69,000).

While Japan offers a top subsidy of ¥850,000 for electric vehicles, it remains a mystery on how much the FCV would receive as incentive, if it would be entitled to.

Mitsuhisa Kato, executive vice president in charge of r&d, remarked that Toyota is hoping that fuel cell incentives would be higher than the ones offered for EVs in Japan, US and Europe. In the US, Kato said the carmaker may turn to leasing the car when it arrives in in California.

In Japan, Toyota expects to sell the FCV by targeting affluent first adopters and opinion leaders. He said that the FCV will feature premium flourishes commensurate with its price. He noted that a ¥7 million car “needs to look like a ¥7-million car," adding that the FCV is not a compliance car made to meet California's zero-emission rules.

He said that states having appropriate infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles are very limited. As of late 2013, there were only 10 public hydrogen fueling stations in the US, dozens more should sprout by 2015.

California has enacted a law to finance the construction of at least 100 public hydrogen fueling stations by 2024. According to Kato, Toyota has over 2,400 patents shielding its fuel cell technology, adding that aspects of the FCV will be the basis for another hydrogen car being developed with BMW by 2020.

Toyota provided a glimpse last week of the exterior design of the FCV’s production version, unveiling an electric-blue vehicle with styling slightly toned down from curved concept unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Show. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

Topics: toyota, fuel cell, sedan

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