Toyota has announced plans to commercialise hydrogen power by ‘around 2015’. It will supply five cars to a German hydrogen fuel trial in 2011.
The Japanese firm has become a new automotive partner in Germany’s Clean Energy Partnership (CEP), which aims to promote sustainable mobility though the supply and development of a hydrogen fuel.
Toyota to take hydrogen lead?
The German government is investing around two billion euros to support the programme, investing in filling stations and a supply network. Toyota will offer five of its FCHV-adv hydrogen fuel cell hybrid vehicles to the trial.
However, as far as the global automotive market is concerned, the really interesting news is Toyota’s accompanying announcement that it hopes to have hydrogen fuel vehicles commercially available by 2015 – a big step towards a petroleum-free motoring future.
What about other car makers?
Rival Japanese manufacturer Honda has also been conducting a trial of its own in the United States and Japan since 2008. In the US, a limited number of the Honda FCX Claritys are on lease to private individuals in the Los Angeles area. Honda believes it may be able to start mass producing this car by 2020.
Other car makers are still investigating other green technologies including full electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and .
Importance of infrastructure
In order for hydrogen vehicles to become viable, there needs to be an infrastructure in place to support them. In Germany, other CEP partners are setting up ‘CO2-free’ and hydrogen filling stations in a network between Berlin and Hamburg, and adopting the name ‘hydrogen highways.’ The British government has also recently announced plans to develop our very own M4 motorway in a similar manner.
One short-term goal of the CEP is to have up to 50% of all hydrogen fuel provided by renewable sources.
Hydrogen is widely predicted to become the fuel of the future, since the only emission produced is water vapour – pure H2O. It is also the most abundant element in the universe.
The difficulty is in extracting it from where it exists in nature – such as water (it is the H in H2O) – without using up vast amounts of energy in the process. Building the technology to make use of it, such as fuel cells, is also currently expensive and inefficient.
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