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Toyota Tries China For Hydrogen Vehicle Support

Jun. 08, 2020 9:52 PM ETToyota Motor Corporation (TM)32 Comments
Keith Williams profile picture
Keith Williams


  • Toyota doubles down on its hydrogen vehicle program by engaging several Chinese groups with its fuel cell programs.
  • Major Chinese auto players BAIC, GAC and Dong Feng Motors have small stakes, but the new company is about promotion of hydrogen technology and fuel cell registration in China.
  • No mention of concrete new product plans, which contrasts with lots of JVs in China on BEVs.
  • Toyota pushes hybrid-only releases of Sienna and Venza models in the US.
  • Toyota continues to seek to water down fuel efficiency standards (and hence increased emissions) in the US.

Toyota (NYSE:NYSE:TM) has a long-established dual strategy for its participation in the personal vehicles sector. Firstly, it is seeking to expand its hybrid vehicle programs and secondly, a longer term strategy is to succeed in its vision of zero carbon transport through hydrogen-powered vehicles. It continues to overlook discussion of BEV plans (except for China). Therefore, Toyota’s current planning involves a combination of rearguard action to keep its hydrogen car program alive, along with attempts to prolong the future of ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars in the US via introduction of hybrid-only models and rule changes about fuel emissions standards. Here I report on new developments in these two areas. My conclusion is that Toyota’s actions in both areas further isolate it from electrification of transport, which is developing irreversible momentum. Toyota might be the most powerful car company now, but if it continues down this path its future is increasingly endangered.

Toyota’s Chinese hydrogen push

With most car companies that have had hydrogen programs now abandoning or delaying them, Toyota has just announced a complex partnership for its hydrogen initiative in China.

The headlines are grand, involving 5 Chinese partners, but the reality seems to be more of a far-off future with establishment of an industry-wide promotion vehicle and an R&D company, FCRD (United Fuel Cell System R&D (Beijing) Co Ltd). The plan is for 50 employees. The goal is to promote fuel cell vehicles and develop competitive fuel cell systems for commercial vehicles that comply with Chinese regulations. Toyota will be 65% owner of the venture which is to be capitalised at $46 million and will be established later this year. The deal is about building a research lab in Beijing. This is reminiscent of much of what has happened with the development of hydrogen-based technology, being big

This article was written by

Keith Williams profile picture
Keith began his career as a research scientist (developmental biology, biochemistry, molecular biology) at the Australian National University, University of Oxford (UK), the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry (Munich, Germany) and finally Macquarie University (Sydney) where he held a Chair in Biology and established the Centre for Analytical Biotechnology. Pioneering the area of proteomics (with Marc Wilkins in his group coining the term), Keith established the world’s first government-funded Major National Proteomics Facility (Australian Proteome Analysis Facility) which was involved with industrialising protein science. Keith left academe with his team to found Proteome Systems Ltd in 1999 to commercialise proteomics. The company had a strong focus on intellectual property, engineering/technology and bioinformatics. As CEO he led the company to ASX listing in 2004. Since 2005 Keith has been involved in new business development in biotech, e-health and other emerging technologies. Keith sees climate change and sustainable development as a major issue for humankind and also a major business disruptor/risk and opportunity. Keith holds a Bachelor Agr Science from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from the Australian National University. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering and received an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) for services to the Biotechnology Industry. He has received various industry awards including an Innovation Hero Medal from the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering. With 300 scientific papers and many patents written, Keith has a clear view of innovation in the Biotechnology and Climate/Renewable Energy space. He is not a financial advisor but his perspective adds relevance to decision-making concerning feasibility and investment in technology innovation.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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