Beyond Hot Air: Driving Toyota's Hydrogen Car and Future Technology in Japan

Toyota pulls out all the stops to show us what it's got

November 01, 2013

2015 Hydrogen Car

For three laps around what will eventually become the site of the 2020 Olympic Village, Toyota gave us the opportunity to drive mules of what will eventually become its hydrogen-powered car that will be sold in California, Japan, Europe, and wherever else the infrastructure crops up. Set to be priced at around $50,000 when it goes on sale in the next two years, the car will have all-new sheetmetal and be able to go more than 300 miles on 5 kg of hydrogen.
Using a cheaper fuel cell stack--the converter that turns hydrogen into electricity--than what Toyota has thus far put into limited production for its FCHV-adv Highlander prototypes, the hydrogen car will shave 95 percent of the cost of production from the earlier car, yet be more efficient. The car we drove was a prototype--complete in a Lexus HS 250h body and with a cobbled-together interior--but its powertrain and chassis setup were basically what we'll see when the car reaches production. That is to say that it's punchy, chirping the tires, with whirring from generators and electric motors abound. We estimate it will have between 140 and 150 horsepower. Its steering is progressive, yet numb, which Toyota will surely keep tuning. And its suspension was surprisingly sporty.
We'll see what the finished product will look like next month at the Tokyo Motor Show. So far, the car drives like a winner; we hope it will look like one, too.
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