Week in Review: Hydrogen, Tomatoes, and Taxis of Tomorrow

It's already the second week into the month and we're hearing stories that may have otherwise not made headlines, except they are just that ridiculous. But aside from that, there are some hard-hitting pieces and stories that we're pretty excited about. Monday kicked off the week with Toyota announcing that we'll see its hydrogen car sooner than we think, while Tuesday filled us in on just who will be selling the first shipment of new Alfa Romeos. Wednesday kicked up the humor with a partnership between Ford and Heinz Ketchup, while Thursday revealed that the "Taxi of Tomorrow" project has been given the green light. Friday finished off the week with a recall roundup from Toyota, Honda, and General Motors. Read on to catch up on the top stories this week.

Monday, June 9

Hydrogen fuel cell technology may be the future of the automobile industry, and what we once thought was a few more years off is now a reality. Toyota Motor Corp. announced that its first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will hit the roads by the end of this year for the 2015 model year. Production is expected to begin by mid-December in Japan. However, Hyundai has already released its fuel cell to the public. The Tucson is currently being offered as a lease with free hydrogen fuel for all customers. But while Toyota's model is still a few months off, it's expected to cost nearly $80,000 and travel longer distances than a fully-electric vehicle. With zero emissions and refueling that takes just a handful of minutes, this may very well be the alternative to gasoline the automotive industry is looking for.

Tuesday, June 10

Fiat and Maserati dealers have been fighting over who will sell the first shipments of the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C sports car, but that battle is nearly over. While Fiat Chrysler Automobiles previously said that the top-selling Fiat dealers will get a crack at the new model, the automaker is currently developing 86 Alfa franchises around the country. California, Texas, and Florida will have the heaviest concentration of dealerships, and will be built off existing Fiat and Maserati dealers. Because of this, Alfa Romeo will be selling its own vehicles. Over the coming years, the company plans to expand its dealer network from 86 to over 300 dealerships, along with the introduction of new models. The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C will be offered with a base price of $55,000.

Wednesday, June 11

Who would have ever thought that tomatoes would be a good choice for an automotive material? Apparently Ford did. Heinz ketchup and Ford have teamed up to research the potential use of tomatoes as a sustainable material in automobiles using the peels, stems, and seeds that go to waste. These leftover parts could be dried into fibers to create wiring brackets or storage bins to hold coins and other small objects. But Ford isn't a beginner when it comes to alternative materials in automobiles. Over the last few years, the automaker has partnered up with some big names like Nike and Coca Cola to create 100-percent plant-based plastics. Ellen Lee, plastics research technical specialist for Ford said that the "goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact."

Thursday, June 12

We've been hearing about the "Taxi of Tomorrow," but now we will finally see it on the streets of New York City. The city has finally approved the project and offered Nissan a $1 billion contract to build new taxis for the entire city fleet. The automaker will now have exclusive rights to all non-hybrid taxis in New York City, a big deal when you think of how often taxis are used to get around the city. Taxi operators have been protesting this program since December 2012, as it calls for them to purchase the nearly $30,000 NV200 van in replacement of their current models. But an appeals court has just ruled that this program is a "legally appropriate response to the agency's statutory obligation to produce a 21st-century taxicab consistent with the broad interest and perspective that the agency is charged with protecting."

Friday, June 13

Recalls are becoming a dime a dozen, and Friday finished out the week with a recall roundup of Toyotas, Hondas, and another recall from General Motors. Toyota has recalled certain Toyota Sequoia, Corolla, Matrix, Tundra, Lexus SC, and Pontiac Vibe models as the airbag inflator may rupture when the airbag deploys in an accident. This would cause metal fragments to potentially strike the passengers. Honda has only recalled the Fit for a driveshaft failure. The driveshaft may break due to a heat treatment manufacturing error in the factory. But perhaps the least shocking recall is the one from GM. The Chevrolet Camaro has remained almost unscathed from the mass recalls, but now, that's all changed. The sports car is being recalled for a faulty key fob that may disengage the key when accidentally bumped by the driver. We just hope this is the last we hear from the American automaker, but we doubt it.
 
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