Will this Toyota do for hydrogen what the Prius did for hybrids?

the next prius toyota introduces prototype hydrogen fuel cell car fcv
When it gets its new body, the Toyota Fuel Cell vehicle might just look a bit like this.

The car of the future is here…again.

Toyota released its prototype hydrogen fuel cell car to journalists. In and of itself, this is no big whoop; a new hydrogen car is in the news virtually every week now. What makes this different is that this one is going to be on sale in less than two years and it’s from one of the largest automakers in the world.

The prototype is built on the chassis of a Lexus HS 250h, a hybrid model that did so poorly in the United States that you can’t buy it anymore. The car isn’t as dismal as all that though, Bloomberg reports that its range will exceed 300 miles – better than just about any EV on the market. It manages this on 11 pounds of compressed hydrogen, meaning that it does just under 30 miles per hydrogen.

Seriously; with the rise of alternative fuel vehicles, we need some other measurement of efficiency than mpg, like joules of energy per kilometer or something equally inscrutable.  MPGe is just silly. So let’s keep brainstorming.

The few journalists who drove Toyota’s new hydrogen car report that it handles and performs well. It may only have about 150 horsepower, but, by taking advantage of the torque of its electric motors, it can chirp its tires of the line. Sounds like a lot more fun than a Prius!

Despite some obvious benefits, like zero tail pipe emissions and the fact that hydrogen is much easier to pour than electricity, hydrogen fuel cells are not without their detractors. CEO of Tesla and possible Bond villain Elon Musk has criticized fuel cells as being too complicated and not clean enough, as most hydrogen is processed from natural gas.

While he might have a point, there are some problems with his argument. For instance, the squeaky-clean electricity that goes into Musk’s Teslas comes from fossil fuels in most parts of the United States. That’s right. Did you know your EV is coal powered?

There are still problems ahead for this – and every other – hydrogen car. Hydrogen still has to overcome the obstacles of production, storage, the expense and complexity of fuel cells, and the lack of a robust hydrogen fuel station network.

Yet when Toyota sets its mind to something, there are usually serious results. When it released the Prius in 1997, no one knew what the hell a hybrid was. Now, you can get a hybrid Tahoe, and every third person in Digital Trends’ home town- Portland – drives a Prius. So when Toyota says it plans on selling 10,000+ units per year by 2017, it’s hard not to take that seriously.

With recent expansions of hydrogen fuel stations in Germany, and numerous announcements by other automakers on their plans to expand their hydrogen repertoire there may be reason to believe the same transformation is in order for hydrogen cars. 

We will know more when Toyota officially unveils the car at next month’s Tokyo Auto Show. 

Cars

Startup Rivian exits stealth mode with a bold promise to electrify off-roaders

Electric car startup Rivian has finally turned off stealth mode and provided details about what it's been working on since 2009. It will build battery-powered off-roaders instead of taking on Tesla and others in the luxury EV segment.
Cars

Born to run (forever): The most reliable cars you can buy right now

We all dread the thought of our car turning into a money pit, but choosing a dependable vehicle from the start can help us rack up countless care-free miles. Here, we've rounded up some of the most reliable cars available.
Cars

Our favorite fuel-efficient cars are as frugal as they are fun

You don't need to opt for a hybrid or an all-electric ride in order to achieve good fuel economy. These vehicles pack both performance and style, whether you're in the market for a luxury sedan or a game-changing pickup truck.
Cars

From Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini, these are the most expensive cars in the world

If you recently discovered an oil reserve in your backyard, you probably have some extra cash to spend. Look no further, because we’ve rounded up the most expensive cars in the world.
Cars

Many adults believe fully self-driving cars are already traversing U.S. highways

The American Automobile Association tested cars with features such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control and found them lacking in real-world conditions. Forty percent of surveyed U.S. adults think self-driving cars exist now.
Cars

Jeep’s outdoorsy Gladiator pickup truck bares it all ahead of schedule

Jeep will introduce the long-promised Wrangler-based pickup truck at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Named Gladiator, the model was designed to conquer the great outdoors, not for the construction site.
Cars

Fisker failed. But now the EV pioneer is ready for an epic redo

Henrik Fisker has already had a career most executives can only dream about. He designed the BMZ Z8, a couple of Aston Martins, and his own Fisker Karma. But he’s got a plan to disrupt the auto industry, forged by lessons learned over the…
Cars

The hamster-friendly 2020 Kia Soul will rock out at the Los Angeles Auto Show

Kia has released a teaser image to preview the next Soul. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2020 Soul will keep the outgoing model's boxy proportions but it will wear a sharper design.
Cars

2020 Toyota Corolla sedan aims to offer sharper handling, better tech

The 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan gets the same upgrades as the recently-introduced Corolla hatchback, including a firmer foundation, new engine, and more tech features. Will that be enough to keep the long-lived Corolla nameplate relevant?
Cars

Honda will squeeze another model into its SUV lineup at the Los Angeles show

Honda will introduce a new SUV with a familiar nameplate at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show. It envisioned the 2019 Passport as a five-seater alternative to the eight-seater Pilot. The two models will share a platform and many tech features.
Cars

Uber rolls out rewards program that lets its most loyal riders lock in prices

Uber launched a new loyalty program today called Uber Rewards. It offers frequent riders credits to Uber Eats, car upgrades, and the ability to lock in prices on their most traveled routes.
Cars

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Smarter cities need smarter addresses. And you just need 3 words

To make really smart transportation choices, more precise location data will have to be integrated with citywide transportation data. Here’s how one company is mapping the world by using just three words.