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Fuel cell technology is coming to the UK

  • World’s first hydrogen-powered saloon coming next Summer
  • New car will emit nothing but water vapour
  • HyFive project launched to help accelerate deployment of fuel cell

Toyota has a habit of leading the pack when it comes to introducing new technology, the firm was the first manufacturer to launch a hybrid car back in 1997 with the Toyota Prius.

Not happy to sit back and wait, the Japenese firm looks set to do it all over again with the launch of the world’s first hydrogen-powered saloon which will soon be arriving in the UK. Unveiled at this month’s Paris Motor Show, this new saloon takes many of its design cues from the Toyota FCV Concept that made its international debut at the Tokyo Motor Show last year.

Hydrogen can be produced from a wide variety of primary energy sources, including solar and wind power and Toyota believes the technology has great potential.

Company car drivers will play an essential part in driving uptake of this new technology, its zero emmissions will mean only a five percent BIK tax band for the 2015/16 tax year for company car drivers which will be key for driving appeal.

The front-wheel drive, four-door, four-seater saloon is believed to have the range of a conventional petrol engine yet will emit nothing but water vapour and take as little as three minutes to refuel. 

"We are ready to tackle the challenges of the future," said Didier Leroy, executive vice president Toyota, "Just as we took the lead with hybrid, now we will do the same with fuel cell."

The new car is yet to be officially named and will be launched first in Japan around April time next year with preparations under way for launches in the USA and European markets in the summer.

In Japan the Fuel Cell Sedan will be sold at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships, priced at approximately seven million yen (about £43,450). Initially sales will be limited to those parts of the country where a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is under development.

Prices for Europe and the USA have not yet been decided. Detailed information such as final prices, specifications and sales expectations will  be announced later and the name for the new car is set to be revealed next month.

Three-year deployment project

To help speed up the introduction of hydrogen-powered cars in Europe the HyFive (Hydrogen for Innovative Vehicles) project has been launched in partnership with 15 vehicle manufacturing and energy providing businesses to help ensure a co-ordinated deployment of fuel cell cars, in conjunction with establishment of the refuelling and fuel supply infrastructure they will require.

Toyota, BMW, Daimler, Honda and Hyundai will be responsible for delivering a fleet of 110 vehicles to six European cities: Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich and Stuttgart. A network of hydrogen refuelling pumps will be developed simultaneously within these five areas.

The cars deployed by Toyota when the programme is launched at the end of 2015 will be fitted with a continuous data logging system, providing engineers with day-to-day feedback on the cars’ use and performance, information that will be essential for further development of the fuel cell technology.