Toyota will defy critics who claim that fuel cell technology is not yet ready for the auto market and that the recharging infrastructure is too undeveloped to support the vehicles powered by them, Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for the carmaker’s United States unit, said at the Automotive News World Congress.
"I realize that there is no shortage of naysayers regarding the viability of this technology and the infrastructure to support it," Carter remarked. "If others want to tune out this technology, that's fine." Critics have said that the cost of building a hydrogen refueling station – estimated at $1 million and $2 million -- will prevent the infrastructure from developing rapidly.
Carter, however, said that the estimates are misleading, forecasting that an infrastructure will quickly rise with ready-to-use hydrogen being shipped to existing fuel stations. Toyota unveiled its FCV fuel cell concept at the 2014 Detroit auto show and vowed to roll out the car to showrooms in 2015. Carter expects hydrogen to be eventually cheaper for drivers than gasoline.
He said that as part of its durability testing, Toyota engineers fired small-caliber bullets at the fuel tanks of the FCV. The bullets, however, failed to pierce the tanks and just bounced off. Engineers upped the tempo to 50-caliber bullets, which barely penetrate the material. "We wanted to know what it takes to actually pierce them," Carter said after his presentation at the show.