Toyota’s FCV Plus concept comes to visit from a hydrogen future

Toyota is unveiling three concept cars at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, and one of them will be a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Called the FCV Plus, it’s even more radical than Toyota’s production fuel-cell car, the Mirai.

Previewing a possible future where hydrogen is in more widespread use as a fuel source, the FCV Plus takes full advantage of the packaging flexibility of its powertrain. The one-box design looks like it came straight out of a science-fiction movie, and also makes for a more spacious cabin. It’s a design that wouldn’t be possible with an internal-combustion powertrain.

Toyota mounted the fuel-cell stack between the front wheels, and placed the tank for compressed hydrogen behind the rear seat. The car uses four wheel-mounted electric motors to further free up cabin space. Toyota says the components were placed in the chassis to optimize weight balance, and that the chassis itself is very rigid, but still lightweight.

From the inside, the bubble-like shape and expansive glass should provide good outward visibility. The interior is also very minimal, with a head-up display performing most of the functions of traditional gauges, and a web-like material comprising the rear seats.

Toyota-FCV-Plus-Concept-0011

Toyota wants the FCV Plus to be more than a car, though. The firm is emphasizing the concept’s ability to serve as an emergency backup power source for buildings. When stationary, the car can be fed hydrogen, and it can then generate electricity that can be discharged back out for non-automotive uses. The Toyota Mirai already has the capability to discharge electricity generated by its fuel-cell stack, and Honda has said it will offer a similar feature on its production fuel-cell car.

Toyota believes the FCV Plus will show the way to cars becoming an integral part of the energy infrastructure, by essentially turning them into mobile backup batteries. There’s been significant interest in this technology in Japan since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, for use with both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell cars.

In addition to the FCV Plus, Toyota’s Tokyo Motor Show stand will also boast a small sports car concept called the S-FR, as well as the KIKAI, a concept designed to put a car’s inner workings on display.

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