Toyota is positive that hydrogen-powered vehicles will be priced competitively against other zero-emission cars before 2030, the carmaker’s r&d chief officer, Soichiro Okudaira , told Automotive News Europe in an interview. "Beyond 2020 .... fuel cell cars will be considered just one alternative of the eco cars," he said.
Toyota is hoping that significant cuts in the cost of fuel cells will help it deliver between 5,000 and 10,000 vehicles when it starts selling the production version of its FCV Concept in early 2015. When Toyota built demonstration vehicles in 2007, each fuel cell system cost nearly EUR750,000. The carmaker now expects each fuel system to be less than JPY5 million (EUR35,900) by 2015, or around half the car's EUR72,000 price tag.
Toyota managed to lower the cost of the fuel cell stack in the FCV Concept by cutting the amount of platinum in the catalyst and by making the stack smaller to fit under the front seats. Toyota also managed to lower the cost by sharing components with its existing hybrids including a motor and electronics.
The production version of the FCV, however, will not share a platform with the next-generation Prius, since the fuel cell vehicle is heavier and has a different underbody structure and layout. Toyota believes larger production volumes and improved engineering will result to more future fuel cell cost savings.
"First we need to simplify the system, then share parts with combustion engines, reduce the use of precious metals and reduce the quantity of material used to build the tank," Tatsuaki Yokoyama, a general manager of Toyota’s fuel cell system engineering division said. Okudaira remarked that in the five years after the 2015 launch, Toyota is planning to further cut the cost of the fuel cell unit to one-fifth.