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Posts Tagged ‘fuel cells’

When it Comes to Cars, Everything Old is New Again

Some of today’s hottest breakthroughs actually date back decades, centuries.

by on Jul.10, 2015

The idea behind the Toyota Mirai's fuel-cell powertrain dates back to the 1830s.

By the end of next year, at least three automakers, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota, will be offering U.S. motorists new fuel-cell vehicles running on hydrogen rather than gasoline. They bill the technology as an environmental breakthrough, the first step towards what some are calling a “Hydrogen Society.”

But while hydrogen may be the fuel of the future, fuel cells have a surprisingly long past. The technology got its first serious use during the Apollo moon mission, and actually dates back to the mid-19th Century. Indeed, many of the technologies now showing up on today’s most advanced vehicles actually have a long history dating back decades and, in some instances, centuries.

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The idea for the automobile itself can be traced back at least to the days of the Roman Empire when a self-propelled carriage — powered by tightly wound human hair, much like a rubber band – was driven into the Coliseum to entertain 3rd Century Emperor Commodius.


Japan Investing Big in Hydrogen Power

Setting up network of refueling stations before 2020 Olympics.

by on Jan.22, 2015

Toyota Mirai, the maker's hydrogen fuel cell car, represents its future rather than electric vehicles.

As part of its broader shift away from nuclear power, Japan is turning towards hydrogen, a lightweight gas some proponents like to call the fuel of the future.

The government has approved an investment of 45.2 billion yen, or $385 million, to set up a network of hydrogen refueling stations that will be in place in time for the 2020 Olympics in the capital city of Tokyo. The money also will provide subsidies for the development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

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“It’s time to introduce a hydrogen era,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after test driving the new Toyota Mirai. (more…)

Daimler’s Zetsche Not Sold on Cells

CEO more optimistic about self-driving cars in the future.

by on Jan.14, 2014

Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche is not bullish on the near-term future of fuel cell cars and trucks.

Drivers looking to jump into their fuel cell-powered car or truck to run errands are going to have to live with disappointment for at least a decade, Daimler AG Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said during a round table meeting with reporters at the North American International Auto Show today.

“There are cost problems with the industrial process for making fuel cells,” he told reporters during the session. “That’s why we are working with Ford and Nissan to take out the cost. But it’s a (chicken) and egg question. You need volume to drive down the costs.

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“There are also issues with the infrastructure,” he said, noting that the hydrogen fueling stations necessary for fuel cells are still few and a far between. (more…)

Toyota Takes Leap of Faith with 2015 Introduction of FCV

Production costs, infrastructure limitations bring out skeptics.

by on Dec.12, 2013

The Toyota FCV is already facing competition from Hyundai's fuel cell-powered Tucson.

Many immediately think of battery electrics when the topic of zero-emission vehicles crops up, further proving that fuel cell electric vehicles are the oft-forgotten stepchild of the segment; however, Toyota is confident it can turn the tide on fuel cells.

Confident enough that one of its top executives, Soichiro Okudaira, chief officer of research and development, recently predicted that FCEVs will “just one alternative of the eco cars” someday, according to a story in Automotive News.

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Actually, he predicted it would happen in 10 to 15 years which is when the pricing will come down to levels palatable to consumers. However, in the interim, Toyota believes there is a market for fuel cell-powered cars, despite it’s “too high for the mainstream” price. (more…)

Honda Joins Hydrogen Race with FCEV Fuel Cell Concept

Polarizing design heralds production zero-emission vehicle coming in 2015.

by on Nov.21, 2013

Honda's FCEV concept will go into production in 2015.

Honda joined the unexpected resurgence in hydrogen power this week with the official unveiling of its FCEV fuel-cell vehicle concept car – the maker promising to put a final version into production by 2015.

Honda has been one of the longest and most consistent proponents of hydrogen power – which it sees as the most effective path to a zero-emission, petroleum-free future. The maker says recent developments have made fuel cell technology competitive with the internal combustion engine and a serious alternative to batteries – though officials acknowledge that there is an urgent need to create a hydrogen refueling infrastructure before the clean technology can truly go mass-market.

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A vehicle like the Honda FCEV concept “is what we believe could be the ultimate solution to low-carbon mobility,” declared Tetsuo Iwamura, Honda Motor Co.’s top North American executive and COO of its global automotive operations. “At the same time,” he stressed, a vehicle like the FCEV can be “fun to drive and fun to own.” (more…)

Toyota to Reveal New Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicle in Tokyo

FCV Concept to share stage with FT-86 convertible, other concepts.

by on Nov.06, 2013

Toyota is planning to introduce its FCV, Fuel Cell Vehicle, during the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. It's expected to go on sale in 2015.

The Tokyo Motor Show has a history of mixing the wild and wacky with the futuristic, and the eight different models Toyota plans to reveal during the upcoming event underscore that reputation – while also giving a good look at several models soon to join the giant maker’s line-up, including a new hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle Toyota plans to launch in 2015.

Also on tap: a convertible version of the FT-86, the product of a joint venture with smaller Japanese maker Subaru. The original coupe version is also being sold, in various markets, as the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ.

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In keeping with Tokyo tradition, the Toyota line-up adds such eccentric offerings as the skateboard-like FV2, which abandons the traditional steering wheel, and the golf cart-like Toyota iRoad. (more…)

Audi Developing Hydrogen-Powered A7

Fuel cell technology regains momentum.

by on Jun.03, 2013

Audi will begin testing a hydrogen-powered version of the A7 this summer.

With automakers showing a renewed interest in hydrogen, Audi appears to be the latest manufacturer to be looking to develop a car that can use the light, clean-burning fuel.

According to a report from Europe, Audi plans to begin testing a prototype fuel-cell vehicle based on its popular A7 coupe-like sedan. It would become the latest addition to an expanding line-up of “tron” vehicles from Audi using alternative propulsion systems including battery-power and compressed natural gas.

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The new hydrogen-powered A7 would debut in August, according to Britain’s Autocar magazine, quoting an interview with Audi’s technical director Wolfgang Durheimer.


Ford, Daimler and Nissan form Fuel Cell Alliance

Move comes days after BMW and Toyota team up on the technology.

by on Jan.28, 2013

Mercedes-Benz has begun marketing its hydrogen-powered F-Cell in Southern California.

Ford, Daimler and Nissan will now team up in a push to bring hydrogen fuel cell technology to market as early as 2017, the makers have announced.

They collectively hope to produce as many as 100,000 fuel-cell vehicles, or FCVs, they revealed during a news conference in Nabern, Germany. Super-clean fuel cells could serve as an alternative to the battery-electric technology all four of the makers have been trying to sell to a so-far skeptical market.

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“This technology has the biggest potential for emission- free driving,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, Daimler’s technology chief. “This cooperation gives us the opportunity to bind together the know-how of three experienced partners” to enable commercial production of cars running on the powering system.


BMW-Toyota Alliance Could Signal Revival of Fuel Cell

The technology of tomorrow?

by on Jan.24, 2013

BMW and Toyota officials celebrate their new fuel cell alliance. Shaking hands, in center, are Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and BMW Chairman Nobert Reithofer.

BMW and Toyota officials today formed a strategic alliance aimed at developing hydrogen-based fuel cell technology – as well as a new “sports vehicle” that will run on the clean, high-mileage gas.

The binding agreement, earlier reported by, could help revive interest in the use of hydrogen, a source of energy that some proponents believe will eventually prove the cleanest and most efficient way to power automobiles.  Significant technical advancements have been made in recent years and the BMW-Toyota alliance appears aimed at overcoming the remaining challenges.

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“Toyota and the BMW Group are seizing this unique chance to lead the industry towards the future of mobility,” declared Dr. Herbert Diess, the BMW board member who will oversee the project.  “The binding agreement we signed today moves us one step closer to achieving this vision.”


Is Hydrogen Power Making a Comeback?

Nissan, Hyundai among makers willing to putting fuel-cell vehicles into production.

by on Oct.08, 2012

Nissan says it would consider putting a fuel cell vehicle like the TeRRA concept into production.

“Hydrogen is the clean, efficient power for the future,” goes the old joke among engineers, “and it always will be.”  Like the sign that offers “free beer…tomorrow,” it’s a cynical sign that while hydrogen power could ultimately be one of the cleanest possible sources of energy, it never seems to quite reach the mass production stage.

Yet, there are small but telling signs that this may soon change.  A growing number of automakers are planning to launch limited production of vehicles using hydrogen fuel cell technology. General Motors, meanwhile, has moved its hydrogen research center in an upstate New York outpost to one of its main Detroit engineering campuses.

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And Dept. of Energy Secretary Steven Chu has signaled a growing interest in hydrogen after earlier dismissing the technology and shifting more than $100 million in federal research money from fuel cells to batteries.

Hydrogen seemed all the rage within the auto industry at the dawn of the new Millennium. And a cursory understanding explained why: the lightweight gas is the most abundant element in the universe and, when used in a fuel cell system, produces electricity and water vapor rather than the harmful emissions found in the exhaust of an internal combustion engine.