Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles are not afraid of one thing – freezing cold weather. That's the latest from two companies that have been driving the cars in frostbite temperatures in the Northeast recently.

Proton Onsite runs a fleet of 10 Toyota FCHV-adv fuel cell vehicles out of its Connecticut headquarters and discovered that the snow and three-degree temperature didn't restrict range. Mark Schiller, Proton vice president of business development, said in a statement that, "I went out to my Toyota FCHV-adv and brushed off a foot of snow before starting the car right up. No problem."

While electric vehicles can have their driving range reduced in extreme temperatures (but not always), Proton Onsite hasn't seen that happen in the Polar Vortex. They're performing flawlessly in freezing temperatures even with the heaters blasting, and are continuing to hit their range of about 300 miles, Schiller said.

Air Products, based on Allentown, PA, has had a similar experience. The FCHV-adv has had great performance under harsh conditions, according to Nick Mittica, commercial manager, hydrogen energy systems. Employees drove the fuel cell vehicle during one of Pennsylvania's worst winters in recent memory and, you guessed it, "No problem."

Toyota says that has put its fuel cell fleet through the wringer, logging millions of miles over the last decade, to make sure performance can be delivered within extreme weather conditions. Toyota engineers spent weeks testing cold weather start up, performance and durability up in Yellowknife, Canada. Temperature can reach -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit) at that location. On other end of the scale, Toyota was able to verify that its FCVs can handle driving through heat in Death Valley national park. We heard the same from Mercedes the other day, too. Extreme weather functionality is apparently something automakers want to make absolutely sure the public doesn't worry about.
Polar Vortex No Match for Toyota Fuel Cell

Jan. 30, 2014 – Record low temperatures have stranded many East Coast drivers, but not those driving a Toyota fuel cell hybrid vehicle. Connecticut-based Proton Onsite, which operates a fleet of ten Toyota FCHV-adv fuel cell vehicles, says that even in single digit temperatures, the FCHV-adv shows no signs of frostbite.

"We had another snow storm Tuesday night and this morning the temperature was 3 degrees," says Mark Schiller, Proton vice president of business development. "I went out to my Toyota FCHV-adv and brushed off a foot of snow before starting the car right up. No problem."

Unlike pure battery electric vehicles that can see reductions in driving range in extreme temperatures, fuel cell vehicles' performance stands up to freezing temperatures. "I continue to get range of about 300 miles despite the cold and blasting the heater," says Schiller. "The vehicle performed flawlessly."

Air Products in Allentown tells the same story.

"Our employees have driven it to community and business-related events during one of Pennsylvania's worst winters in recent memory," says Nick Mittica, Air Products' commercial manager, hydrogen energy systems. "The FCHV-adv has had great performance."

That performance is by design. Over the last decade, the Toyota fuel cell fleet has logged millions of miles in some of the most extreme climates on the planet. In Yellowknife, Canada, where temperatures reach -30 degrees Celsius, fuel cell engineers spent weeks verifying cold weather start up, performance and durability. In Death Valley, they verified that it also can beat the heat.

Wherever they go, Toyota engineers are working to ensure the fuel cell vehicle can handle whatever is thrown-or blown-its way. So when it hits the road in 2015, cold-weather customers can chill out about everything but bundling up!

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