Japan’s major automakers support hydrogen society. Some more, some less

Joint presser - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

What did he just say?

Japan’s three major automakers held a rare joint press conference today, throwing their weight and support behind fuel cells and a zero-emission hydrogen society. That support had been far from unanimous in the past. While Toyota is fully in the fuel cell camp, Nissan is on record that BEVs are viable now, while FCVs may be a drawn-out dream. Honda, having to deal with more pressing problems than the future of the planet, is somewhere in the middle. Today, all three united and shook hands on the noble cause of jump-starting the hydrogen station infrastructure in Japan. [Continue Reading]

What does the congressional grilling of Akio Toyoda have to do with the Mirai FCV? More than we imagine

Time to reflect

Time to reflect

Today, 5 years ago, on February 24, 2010, Toyoda CEO Akio Toyoda was mercilessly grilled in a show trial at the U.S. Congress for unintended acceleration that did, according to NASA, never happen.  Picture Mark Fields, or Mary Barra, being screamed at in Chinese, or Japanese, by lawmakers in Beijing, or Tokyo, and you won’t begin to fathom the intentional trauma. Today, February 24, 2015, the production start of Toyota’s fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai, was celebrated in a line-off ceremony at the Motomachi plant in Toyota City, Japan. Just a happenstance? Not really. [Continue Reading]

Driving Impressions: Toyota Mirai

Toyota Mirai Press Briefing Tokyo - 14 - Picture Bertel Schmitt -670

While Herr Schmitto-san was learning about Toyota’s new Mirai fuel cell vehicle (FCV) by not driving it in Japan, I was busy learning about Mirai by driving it in sunny Southern California. The Los Angeles area is already ground zero for hydrogen-powered cars in the US, thanks to major investments by the state government and small-scale FCV deployment by Honda, Hyundai and BMW. Soon it will be the first market for Mirai, the first FCV to be offered for sale to consumers and Toyota’s first step into a long-awaited hydrogen future. Driving the Mirai past competitor FCVs and refueling at a station that pumps hydrogen extracted from local sewage, it becomes clear that the first steps towards Toyota’s vision of a “hydrogen society” have already been made in sun-soaked Orange County.

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Toyota’s Mirai Brings Hydrogen Technology Back Into Focus

The fuel of the future finally has a future.

The fuel of the future finally has a future.

For more than 30 years, a joke has circulated in automotive circles that hydrogen fuel cells are the future of the car… and always will be. Nearly every automaker has flirted with the technology at some point since the 1980s, either in their concept cars, demonstrator fleets or semi-secretive tests without ever coming close to actually offering a hydrogen-powered car to consumers.
That all changed this week, when the 800 pound gorilla of the auto industry, Toyota, released the first fuel cell vehicle (FCV) available for sale to consumers. Though this pioneering vehicle faces undeniable challenges, mainly a nascent hydrogen refueling infrastructure that is initially limiting Toyota’s FCV effort to targeted markets, there can be no doubt but that the Japanese automaker is fully committed to aggressively pursuing fuel cell technology. The proof is in the very name of the new car: Mirai, Japanese for The Future.

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Toyota launches fuel cell car in earnest, and with a few puns

Toyota FCV - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

Toyota made a big splash today, announcing at Tokyo’s Megaweb that it will launch its hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicle before April 2015 in Japan, and in summer 2015 in the United States and Europe. The car will cost around 7 million yen ($68,600) in Japan. Prices outside Japan have not been announced. [Continue Reading]

Daily Kanban drives Toyota’s 2015 fuel cell car, talks to its father

Toyota FCV -02- Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

2015 Toyota FCV prototype

When I worked for the Dark Side, doing propaganda for Volkswagen, I drove a few pre-production models for familiarization purposes. Never was I invited to drive the prototype of a car that would need another two years to go into production. Today, it happened. It wasn’t just any car. I drove a car that could change the way we drive into the future. My ride was the prototype of Toyota’s first mass production fuel cell sedan, which I was promised to arrive on the market in 2015.

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