Toyota Europe boss says 'reasonable number' of fuel cell vehicles on the way

We know that Toyota is gung-ho about delivering its first hydrogen fuel cell sedan to early-adopter markets like southern California and part of Japan next year. The Japanese automaker's European H2 plans have long been part of the mix, but a new press release shows just how committed Toyota is to hydrogen all around the world.

"The volume will be limited, but they will be visible on the streets" – Didier Leroy

Toyota says hydrogen fuel cells are a "major, but logical next step" after the company's pioneering work on gas-electric hybrids for 15 years. Didier Leroy, president of Toyota Motor Europe (pictured), said in a statement that he knows there will be H2 hurdles, and so Toyota will start with "a reasonable number of cars" in Europe. "The volume will be limited," he said, "but they will be visible on the streets."

Karl Schlicht, Toyota Motor Europe executive vice president, compares Toyota's current hydrogen progress with where the company was with hybrid's in the not-too-distant past. When it comes to infrastructure and cost, he said, "There is of course a long way to go, as with any game-changing technology, but remember the same was said about hybrid only 10 years ago." You can read the full PR below.

We don't remember a lot of people saying the infrastructure for hybrids simply wasn't there in 2004, but maybe we missed that memo.
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16/04/14 from Toyota

The next era in Toyota's technology development is about to become production reality, with the market introduction next year of the company's first hydrogen fuel cell-powered car. It's a major, but logical next step for the company, as it builds on the success it has achieved with hybrid over the past 15 years.

Karl Schlicht, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Europe, is explicit about Toyota's commitment to hydrogen power and the potential of fuel cell vehicles to deliver on the company's ambitions to develop the ultimate eco-car.

He says: "Our unique hybrid history and experience have proven invaluable for the next big leap. Back in 2010, we promised our first fuel cell car for 2015 and we are fully on track to honour our commitment.

"Fuel cell is a technology that can secure our concept of personal mobility. That's because fuel cells combine the strengths of EVs (electric vehicles) and hybrids, with those of conventional cars. That means zero emissions – they only emit water vapour – and full usability; refuelling only takes about three minutes."

Schlicht also highlights the facts hydrogen fuel is easy to store, is better at capturing renewable energies than batteries, and can be produced anywhere.

"Taking these facts into account reinforces how Toyota is convinced fuel cell can deliver our ultimate goal of zero emissions and sustainable transport," he says.

The model with which Toyota will pioneer its new technology is the FCV saloon concept, shown for the first time in Europe at this year's Geneva motor show. Schlicht explains the car gives "clear hints" of the design of the production version to be delivered next year, and that with the benefit of a high energy density fuel stack and a maximum 100kW it will have the potential to cover more than 500 miles on a tank of fuel.

Schlicht acknowledges that issues of infrastructure, public awareness and cost need to be addressed: "There is of course a long way to go, as with any game-changing technology, but remember the same was said about hybrid only 10 years ago.

"Toyota is ready to back and lead this change, so we will be pioneering fuel cell step by step."

This time the company is not working alone, having entered into a partnership with BMW to further fuel cell research and development.

Didier Leroy, Toyota Motor Europe's President, likewise sets out his vision of how fuel cell technology – which itself is a hybrid system – will arrive in Europe.

"Fuel cell technology will take time before it takes off," he says. "To help that happen we will bring a reasonable number of cars to Europe. The volume will be limited, but they will be visible on the streets."

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