Tokyo Motor Show Preview: Toyota to unveil hydrogen concept car

One of the highlights of the Tokyo Motor Show will be the unveiling of Toyota's (TM +1.2%) FCV hydrogen car.

The concept car has already drawn rave reviews for style, while it's an easy sell to environmentalists with only water vapor to be emitted from the tailpipe.

What to watch: Toyota needs to demonstrate it has plans to build a network of hydrogen charging stations in places such as Germany, Japan, and California before the energy source will be taken more seriously.

Tit for tat: Toyota execs will have the attention of the world's auto press right on the heels of another Tesla Motors (TSLA) Model S fire. It's likely they won't forget Musk called hydrogen fuel cells a waste of time in a speech last month.

From other sites
Comments (28)
  • EVfan12
    , contributor
    Comments (823) | Send Message
    Hydrogen IS a waste of time.
    Here is just a tiny snippet of why I say so:


    "... Quotes from the Hydrogen Properties study at Energy.Gov:
    "The molecules of hydrogen gas are smaller than all other gases, and it can diffuse through many materials considered airtight or impermeable to other gases. This property makes hydrogen more difficult to contain than other gases."
    "Hydrogen has the added property of low electro-conductivity so that the flow or agitation of hydrogen gas or liquid may generate electrostatic charges that result in sparks."
    "Flammable mixtures of hydrogen and air can be easily ignited."
    "The burning speed of hydrogen at 8.7-10.7 ft/s (2.65-3.25 m/s) is nearly an order of magnitude higher than that of methane or gasoline (at stoichiometric conditions)."
    The highway would be the next option to transport hydrogen. It seems pretty obvious to me this wouldn't be an ideal solution due to the compression, trucking, transferring, and storage of the hydrogen. The energy used in the process kills the efficiency. ..."
    Secondary source: htt p :// seekingalpha. com/ article/1555832-lithiu...
    8 Nov 2013, 01:41 PM Reply Like
  • EVfan12
    , contributor
    Comments (823) | Send Message
    ...Continuation of my trunkated link posted above: ...lithium-stocks-that...
    8 Nov 2013, 01:43 PM Reply Like
  • Tales From The Future
    , contributor
    Comments (7521) | Send Message
    Factually correct, but TM is also (together with Daimler) an investor in TSLA, so more of a frenemy.


    TM and TSLA just don't share the same technology vision for cars at the moment :)
    8 Nov 2013, 01:41 PM Reply Like
  • King Rat
    , contributor
    Comments (1631) | Send Message
    TM has pocket lint invested in TSLA and annually spends over $10billion in R&D. They and other Japanese auto manufacturers are ridiculed for their lack of ROI on R&D. They have made tech agreements and acquisitions of other technology related firms and products. Considering this, if they considered TSLA's technology to be of much value, they would invest much more.
    8 Nov 2013, 02:23 PM Reply Like
  • Esekla
    , contributor
    Comments (4479) | Send Message
    Although I've discounted hydrogen as a viable long-term competitor (and continue to do so), it is exactly the sort of competition I predicted for Tesla 6 months ago, when they were at their inflection point.



    In the meantime, Tesla's execution has actually been quite impressive, despite the recent stock slide. I do believe that if batteries are the answer, Tesla is a big winner.
    8 Nov 2013, 01:48 PM Reply Like
  • surferbroadband
    , contributor
    Comments (5022) | Send Message
    Toyota thinks that there is no major market for EV. This was the CEO of Toyota saying that.



    I don't think there is a major market for fuel cells.
    8 Nov 2013, 01:48 PM Reply Like
  • David at Imperial Beach
    , contributor
    Comments (4382) | Send Message
    Environmentalists aren't likely to be all that excited about using hydrogen either as a fuel or in fuel cells. Yes, you have zero tailpipe emissions, but the energy required to create and compress hydrogen is quite excessive, which is why Elon Musk called it a waste of time. Much better to use the electricity directly in an electric vehicle.


    Plus, if hydrogen is created from natural gas instead of electrolysis, then the environmentalists won't like the fracking either.


    Theoretically you could recover some of the energy used to compress hydrogen when it comes time to decompress and use it, but I know of no auto manufacturer who is planning to do this, or has even talked about the possibility. You could also use the heat generated during the compression process in a suitable cogeneration facility, but again, the possibility appears to be out of sight, out of mind, for everybody in the industry.
    8 Nov 2013, 01:48 PM Reply Like
  • John Bingham
    , contributor
    Comments (1283) | Send Message


    There are very good reasons why the Big Auto makers are pursuing HFC cars. But perhaps the biggest reason is the threat from EVs to a very established and very powerful industry.


    We saw this in the first wave of EVs in the 1990s. People, and governments, were looking for a way to get away from an oil based transport system. But the oil companies, the auto manufacturers and the service centers would be seriously disadvantaged by a successful EV for reasons mentioned many times here in SA.


    Enter the HFC vehicle! No oil based fuel, only water as an exhaust, and quiet operation! It satisfies the emissions people, doesn't use oil products, and the service centers will still have a different type of system to service.


    Indirectly, and unknown to most of the public, it even satisfies the oil industry as much of the hydrogen produced will be from "fracking".


    And it still ties you to a pump!


    So we saw the first HFC "concept" cars with the promise that they would be cheap and on the roads very soon. And we also saw the contrived death of the EV1 (GM), the EV+ (Honda) and most of the first generation RAV4-EVs (Toyota) - cars that were really loved by their owners. Most of the RAV4-EVs that were sold, as opposed to being leased, are still on the roads today, many with 150,000 miles on the clock.


    Enter Tesla, and the biggest threat yet to Big Oil and Big Auto. Tesla doesn't have to make a lot of cars, although they are heading that way, they only need to prove that an EV can more than compete with existing ICE based cars.


    So back comes the HFC car! Yes, they almost completely disappeared after the first killing of the EV back in the early 2000s.


    Nearly 20 years on we still have only "concept" HFC cars and they are all from the majors. They've been "only five years away" for more than two decades now!


    Final thought. If a HFC car is really the best way to go then why have we never seen a start-up making only HFC cars in the same way that Tesla is making only EVs?


    "Fool" cell indeed!
    12 Nov 2013, 01:21 PM Reply Like
  • Dan Fichana
    , contributor
    Comments (1918) | Send Message
    Here's the questions that must be addressed with hydrogen:


    1. How much does it cost?
    2. Where are they getting the hydrogen from?
    3. If it is renewable, what is the efficiency of electricity vs output?
    4. Number of stations


    Currently, most hydrogen comes from Natural gas, so you are shifting the emissions.


    If you are using water, well the breaking using electrolysis is 18% efficient at most.


    Gasoline, natural gas, and the electricity infrastructure ( charge at home) has been already set up. It's a herculean task to set up another infrastructure, specifically at the cost. Not that it can't be done, but coverage in the near short term would not be a sufficient driver. It's the chicken-egg conundrum. No large infrastructure= limited sales; limited sales equals no reason to build out the infrastructure.
    8 Nov 2013, 01:57 PM Reply Like
  • King Rat
    , contributor
    Comments (1631) | Send Message
    Thank you for bringing up some good questions. My personal opinion was that for Toyota's home market of Japan, with 4x the population of California fits in a nation the size of California but with no significant native source of oil, hydrogen is a way to diversify away from oil.
    Environmentally hydrogen fuel is currently a disaster. As you say it comes from natural gas and the biproduct, water vapor, is a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
    Thus all I can think of is that by having more hydrogen-based cars, Japan can import more natural gas and less oil.
    8 Nov 2013, 02:29 PM Reply Like
  • rastarr
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    Now imagine a hydrogen bomb (car) hitting a piece of metal in the street!
    8 Nov 2013, 02:52 PM Reply Like
  • andrewr1
    , contributor
    Comments (23) | Send Message
    Hydrogen a complete bust unless you are anticipating some sort technological breakthrough in producing the fuel. You might as well (as another commenter said) put the electricity directly into the car, or put the natural gas directly into the car.


    Hydrogen currently costs around $8 a gallon. Not exactly attractive. I'll stick to my CNG car thanks. And in the future I will consider a Gen III Tesla if they are in my price range. If I was a Toyota shareholder I would not be happy with this waste of time.
    8 Nov 2013, 02:55 PM Reply Like
  • phxcrane
    , contributor
    Comments (754) | Send Message
    All Major auto Makers know EV and hydrogen cars are a waste of time. But they have to appease Washington and their governments at home.
    8 Nov 2013, 06:40 PM Reply Like
  • andrewr1
    , contributor
    Comments (23) | Send Message
    EV vehicles are not a waste of time. Maybe you're not paying attention to current events, or maybe you think Tesla Motors is a fluke that will fade. The "fuel" costs less than $1 per gallon equivalent.


    Compare to what I just said above, $8 for hydrogen, barring an unlikely scientific breakthrough.
    11 Nov 2013, 11:06 AM Reply Like
  • King Rat
    , contributor
    Comments (1631) | Send Message
    Following the link about the Tokyo Motor Show, I see a lot of info for Honda, Mitsubishi, etc. and less on just Toyota. Even Tesla has a booth. This press release seems more about creating some hydrogen vs electric drama that just doesn't exist in real life.


    Most attendees will be more interested in the technology of non-hybrid ICEs that get 70-80mpg and hybrids than hydrogen fuel. Japanese all-electric car sales failed to break 1% of domestic market share last year. Most certainly attention will also focus on what companies will do to increase that number this year and next year.
    8 Nov 2013, 03:01 PM Reply Like
  • David G.
    , contributor
    Comments (203) | Send Message
    A battery fire is a battery fire. People walk away unscathed. Hydrogen is a BOMB. Would you rather drive a potential fire hazard? (ie gasoline ice or battery car) or drive a BOMB?


    Oh the humanity!
    8 Nov 2013, 04:23 PM Reply Like
  • Nigel D'Souza
    , contributor
    Comments (396) | Send Message
    Personally, I think hydrogen is the energy of the future. It's the most abundant element in the universe. Hydrogen fuel is in its early stages and requires a break through in hydrogen production.


    The major difference between HFV and EV is economic sustainability and profitability. HFV's are more economically viable and profitable. There's a good reason why major automakers aren't pushing EV models. It's because they can't make as much money on them as their ICE or HFV counterparts.
    8 Nov 2013, 04:39 PM Reply Like
  • Raster
    , contributor
    Comments (788) | Send Message
    It is abundent in the universe, but it binds to carbon and oxygen. On the earth, the amount of free hydrogen is very small.


    Far better to get energy from the existing hydrogen fusion device in the sky.
    8 Nov 2013, 04:54 PM Reply Like
  • Dan Fichana
    , contributor
    Comments (1918) | Send Message
    Hydrogen may be abundant in the universe, but it gets tied up and is ceucial for quite alot of realtions. Most of our hydrogen is tied up in organic compounds and water.


    Actually hydrogen and uses as a combustion fuel go back decades, if not centuries. The atom is the most well understood of all atoms.


    Currently hydrogen fuel cells are not economically viable.
    First, the stations cost roughly double the amount of a gas station to build.
    Second, delivery is problematic, high pressure and low temperature, hydrogen hates being in liquid form.
    Third, storage- there are some tanks that can contain it, but hydrogen eventually leaks. Its a small molecule. Consider the Helium ballon example, helium is double the size of hydrogen, but yet you still see the ballon deflate. Same premise, just does it faster since it's a smaller molecule and a larger pressure gradient ( Good old transport phenomena and mass transfer) .
    Fourth- Pressirization- it takes gobs of energy to compress the hydrogen
    Fifth- source, mostly methane as the source, which is fine, but why not skip it and just use a natural gas powered car
    Sixth- Car itself... They use these things called proton exchange membrames, these membranes are costly- Google Nafion ( thats the dupont product i believe)


    Now there are the sodium borohydride cars, that tickle the borohydride to release hydrogen, but then you have 2 tanks, one for the borohydride, and the other for the borox ( end product) . Nor really feasible if you have to empty out a large container every so often. It would be ideal if you could get the reaction to be reversible, but the energy input far exceeds the output, making this not feasie.
    8 Nov 2013, 07:21 PM Reply Like
  • Nigel D'Souza
    , contributor
    Comments (396) | Send Message
    Very interesting. Appears technology still has a ways to go before hydrogen energy is commercially viable.


    Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the costs of generating and storing hydrogen captured in the price per gallon? i.e. hydrogen is more expensive than gasoline due to the issues of storing, capturing, distributing and generating hydrogen. My understand is that these issues can be managed but result in a higher cost for Hydrogen than its gasoline counterpart. Since Hydrogen costs around $8/gallon, you won't see a significant shift to hydrogen vehicles until gasoline costs substantially more than $8 a gallon.


    Right now, natural gas and gasoline are the only sources of cheap, viable and abundant energy.
    9 Nov 2013, 10:18 AM Reply Like
  • Rik1381
    , contributor
    Comments (1402) | Send Message
    Almost all hydrogen is made from natural gas, so with the recent historically low natural gas prices, hydrogen should be about as cheap as we're going to see it.
    9 Nov 2013, 11:42 AM Reply Like
  • Nigel D'Souza
    , contributor
    Comments (396) | Send Message
    An alternative method of hydrogen production is needed for HEV to replace ICEs.


    A few problems I see with making hydrogen from Natural Gas:
    - the environmental effects of producing hydrogen from natural gas have to be less than using natural gas itself as a fuel
    - the energy used to manufacture hydrogen from natural gas has to be less than the energy of the natural gas used or of the hydrogen produced


    The cost itself is not an issue in so far that Hydrogen or natural gas becomes a desired alternative when oil reserves are depleted and oil prices increase substantially. This is an inevitability since oil is a non-renewable resource. Cost-wise, hydrogen may not be a better alternative now but it will be a better alternative in the not-so-distant future. The real hurdle is creating a viable manufacturing and distribution process.
    9 Nov 2013, 11:51 AM Reply Like
  • Rik1381
    , contributor
    Comments (1402) | Send Message
    I own an EV. I'm a big proponent of the electrification of transport. Fuel cell vehicles are a type of EV, with hydrogen as the stored energy source instead of batteries.


    I also work in the oil refining business as a chemical engineer. I work with high pressure hydrogen to make gasoline and diesel fuel. I understand the risks of this stuff. There isn't enough armor plating that could make me feel safe driving around in a car with high pressure hydrogen.
    8 Nov 2013, 08:10 PM Reply Like
  • GDook
    , contributor
    Comments (10) | Send Message
    A lot of great comments about hydrogen and why Musk was right,
    I can't understand why the brass at Toyota don't get this.
    8 Nov 2013, 08:30 PM Reply Like
  • charalambos
    , contributor
    Comments (365) | Send Message
    If accelerating the change to sustainable electric mobility is a requirement for all of us then thanks to TSLA we know now that BEVs offer huge power output, decent range and easy access to many charging options - most probably safest private trasport vehicles (pending one small final touch: a battery fire suppression system). On the other hand H2fuelcell EVs may also have a place in applications where range is important and performance not a priority... provided infrastructure is in place: hence its favorite option for oil companies and partners established car manufacturers...


    ...the big issue is that regulators should be helping to accelerate change instead of arguing whether pollution is tolerable or not...


    P/S1: the issue of toyota trying to shine is not really an issue for all who have done elementary physics and math... as Elon Musk said they are into it for marketing reasons...


    P/S2: they are most probably obliged by the oil majors to push this tech after selling so many ICEs...
    8 Nov 2013, 11:23 PM Reply Like
  • Juan Carlos Zuleta
    , contributor
    Comments (686) | Send Message
    To heat up the debate, see my latest blog published a few days ago on
    9 Nov 2013, 09:43 AM Reply Like
  • Galactic Cannibal
    , contributor
    Comments (15) | Send Message
    The Achilles heel of all EVs including Tesla and The Leaf is their high-voltage battery packs. These Li - ion Batteries are assembled from thousands of small cells inter connected. The more connections in any battery the higher probability of a bad connection failure, and possible catastrophic heating and fire. Back in the 1990's GM designed from the ground up the EV1 with a SLA battery pack. The EV1 was a terrific EV to drive but like the Tesla and the Leaf its Achilles heel was its battery pack . GM eventually cancelled all the leases for the EV1's and crushed the vehicles in a bone yard in Arizona. Most EV buyers do not understand that batteries are storage devices they are not a fuel source like gasoline and they cannot be fast charge to full capacity in under 10 minutes. . No two batteries are alike and they degrade at different rates depending on how they are driven (used) and charged and its operating temperature,. These EV's can be a stressful nightmare if you forget to keep them charged . Example an EV owner of say a Tesla EV park their EV at LAX and return 10 days later from a trip . Starts to drives the Tesla EV home but about 5 miles from Home the battery is near depleted on energy. There is no Gas station nearby (charging station) . So the Tesla stops dead , The drive can call the AAA and get towed off the road if they do not have a high voltage charging system on board . Or the driver calls the Tesla Dealer or Tesla Factory to be towed. Unlike the ICE vehicles that 99.9% of people drive they can be refueled fully in under 5 minutes anywhere in the USA. But no so for the EV driver who has to seek out special charging station in locations that maybe too far to reach as the energy in the battery is fast depleting. And it will as you near 90% usage. I am not anti EV's but batteries are not the answer. And spending millions and millions of dollars developing batteries for a brutal application like EVs is a total waste of time and money. Design all ICE vehicles to do 70-90 mpg running on gas or Hybrid gas/battery.
    10 Nov 2013, 11:35 AM Reply Like
  • wade3
    , contributor
    Comments (10) | Send Message
    Why don't we just put the books away and let the two companies run themselves. I am sure they can.
    10 Nov 2013, 12:50 PM Reply Like
DJIA (DIA) S&P 500 (SPY)
ETF Screener: Search and filter by asset class, strategy, theme, performance, yield, and much more
ETF Performance: View ETF performance across key asset classes and investing themes
ETF Investing Guide: Learn how to build and manage a well-diversified, low cost ETF portfolio
ETF Selector: An explanation of how to select and use ETFs