Company Loves Its Hybrids But Likes Hydrogen Better Than Electricity.
The race to provide the car of the future is heating up and it should surprise no one that one of the world’s largest car companies, Toyota, is right in the middle of chase to provide it. For Toyota, that future car is powered by a fuel cell that produces electricity on-board from hydrogen.
Craig Scott, Toyota’s national manager of advanced technologies, brought that message recently to a meeting of the Western Automotive Journalists, a Northern California-based group of auto writers.
Scott points to the future
Scott’s message was clear–the car’s are real, they’ll be on sale next year and they will deliver what consumers want in a car while helping the automaker to meet tightening emissions regulations around the globe. Toyota’s fuel cell story is in sync with its competitors Hyundai and Honda, who are also ready to enter the market, as well as other companies that will follow–Daimler/Mercedes, Ford, Nissan, General Motors and BMW. The cars will offer a range comparable to gas models and a similar fill up time (both advantages cited for offering a fuel cell electric car as opposed to a battery electric one). The catch, of course, is where those fill ups will take place. As Scott reported, the state California has dedicated $20 million a year for the next decade to put 100 stations in place, augmenting the meager network of nine that exist right now.
Because fuel cell vehicles have no emissions of either criteria pollutants or greenhouse gases (GHG), they fit California’s quest for zero emission vehicles and help the automaker meet U.S. federal and other countries’ goals for reduced GHGs.
Zoomy Concept Shown
The concept fuel cell FCHV (for Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle to remind of Toyota’s bread-and-butter advanced technology) sedan Toyota has been showing was unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Show last year and most recently showed up at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Scott indicated that next year’s production car would use the zoomy styling of the concept, though not all of the details of the show car would make it to the
An aggressive alternative fuel
street. Costs of the fuel cell “engine” hardware have dropped significantly in the last few years, Scott said, meaning the cars that go on sale in 2015 may still be more expensive than their petroleum-powered cousins, but they won’t cost automakers the $1 million the prototypes did during the past decade. Costs and prices are expected to drop further as production volumes ramp up in the 2020s and other advances in technology, such as reducing the amount of exotic metals like platinum, come on board.
The advances and volumes are expected to come not just because consumers are expected to snatch up great numbers of fuel cell cars when they get to the market, but because automakers have banded together to share costs and collaborate to move the technology forward. Toyota is working with BMW, Ford, Daimler and Nissan are working together, GM and Honda have formed an alliance while Hyundai is going it alone and Fiat-Chrysler appears to be sitting out this round.
The Market Begins
Although both Honda and Mercedes have been leasing limited number of their fuel cell cars for a couple years, Hyundai will be the first on the retail market with a real push. Michael O’Brien, Hyundai’s vice president of corporate and product planning, told the Governor’s Office Summit on Zero Emission Vehicles (March 7, 2014) that the first load of Tucson FCEVs (Hyundai uses the more conventional Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle
Future fueling too?
nomenclature) will ship from Korea in 3-4 weeks, arriving in April and going on sale mid-May at four dealerships in Southern California. Hyundai previously announced it would offer a $2,999 down, $499 lease that includes free fuel and maintenance for the three years of the lease. Hyundai’s also going to make the Tucson FCEV available for rent through Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
Scott said Toyota isn’t ready to talk pricing on its fuel cell sedan, but it can be expected to be competitive. We’ve seen the same dynamic at work in the electric car space, where the limited market has driven all the automakers to offer very similar discounted leases. Toyota executives have also said they will approach their fuel cell vehicles with the kind of patience they showed with the Prius hybrid introduction. That technology took almost a decade before it took hold in the market, but Toyota has said they’re in it for the long haul and will be able to continue investing in the technology until the market catches up with it.
Taking a page from the Tesla playbook, Scott also said Toyota is planning to augment any public hydrogen stations with a network of its own, which may be a key way of reassuring new buyers that they will be able to refuel. In the same vein, Honda recently demonstrated a quick refueling station that reduces the fill time to about three minutes, more than comparable to the time spent with a gas or diesel car.
While Toyota and Honda both showed off concept versions of their upcoming fuel cell cars, Hyundai introduced theirs as a Tucson-based model, virtually indistinguishable from the gas version except for badging. Hyundai corrected that by introducing the Intrado FCEV concept at the Geneva Auto Show.
Expect the drumbeat of fuel cell announcements to continue through the year as automakers gear up for more of the cars appearing on the market. Much of the news will be California-centric, but other centers of fuel cell infrastructure and vehicles can be found in Germany, Japan and Korea with England, Denmark and Singapore also in the mix.
Photos by Michael Coates & the manufacturers
Published March 8, 2014
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Past Experience Doesn’t Make One Optimistic, But Times Are Changing.
Plug-in electric cars had record sales this past year, jumping 84 percent from the previous year’s sales and hitting almost 100,000 in sales. They’re selling better than hybrids did after their introduction more than a decade
100 years of progress, but it doesn’t happen quickly
ago. Optimists expect the trajectory to continue; pessimists point to the waning of incentives from government to offset the increased prices of EVs and the lack of automakers ability to continue the fire-sale tactics that dominated the 2013 market.
As is always the case at the end of one calendar year and the beginning of another, predictions for the future of new technologies abound. Some representative headlines:
- Nissan announced it will have autonomous cars for sale in 2020.
- Eight governors pledged to get 3.3 million more zero emission cars on the roads by 2025.
- Three quarters of vehicles sold worldwide by 2035 will have autonomous features.
- By 2022 there will be nearly 1.9 million natural gas-powered trucks and 1.9 million natural gas buses globally.
But experience tells you to step back and take a breath when you read this kind of prognostication. President Obama in his 2011 State of the Union address called for the country to put a cumulative one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. In that total he included range-extended versions such as the Chevy Volt. Of course, it was not to be since that total was built on the expectation of GM selling 120,000 Volts a year in 2012 and 2013 (as well as 50,000 Leafs and 10,000 Ford Focus Electrics in 2013). Not to mention the expectation that the Fisker Nina would be produced and sold along with the Think City, Fisker Karma and Ford Transit EV. Of course it didn’t anticipate all of the plug-in cars that have some on the market in the past two years, but the cumulative numbers will be nowhere near the expected million.
It reminds me of the Yogi Berra quote: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
Ford On Fuel Cells
Hyundai steps up to retail its fuel cell cars this year
I found an interesting story and quote from less than 13 years ago. Bill Ford, then chairman (now executive chairman) of Ford Motor Company. “I believe fuel cells could end the 100-year reign of the internal combustion
engine.” He then predicted that Ford would offer fuel-cell-powered Focus by 2004.
Well, here we are a decade later and its Hyundai, not Ford, who is putting a fuel cell vehicle on sale (the Tucson FCEV goes on sale this spring at California dealerships). Of course Honda, Mercedes and GM have put limited numbers of fuel cell cars in consumers’ hands, but this is the start of the retailing of this technology.
FedEx’s Pledge & Reality
Another illustrative story comes from FedEx, a leader in adopting new technology. In 2004 they joined with the NGO Environmental Defense and Eaton Corporation pledging to replace its 30,000 medium-duty trucks
FedEx moves slower than expected
with hybrid trucks over the coming years to reduce both pollution and greenhouse gases. It seemed like a win-win with environmental advances also paying off in a better bottom line for FedEx because of increased efficiencies.
Well, again, here we are a decade later and FedEx has deployed 408 electric and hybrid (either gasoline-electric or diesel-electric) trucks. The good news is FedEx’s leadership has led to another 1,400 hybrid delivery trucks hitting the roads with other companies. As FedEx acknowledged, government incentives will continue to play a critical role in rollout of advanced technology vehicles.
These Things Take Time
These things do take time. Wishful thinking won’t get us there. Government money can help, but ultimately it can only play a minor role if the goal is the transformation of a fleet. Cars and trucks that are better alternatives to gasoline ones in every way will be the only way to make it happen. That’s the way gasoline won out over electricity and steam 100 years ago. That’s why diesel won out over gasoline in Europe 15 years ago. That’s why the Toyota Prius is the 10th best-selling car of 2013.
In spite of all of the predictions, 2014 could be one of those years where we see some real change. We at Clean Fleet Report will be here to chronicle it.
What the future may hold
Story & Photos by Michael Coates
Posted January 3, 2014
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Hyundai First Fuel Cell In The Showroom
Story & Photos (except Toyota) By Michael Coates
Electric cars running on hydrogen, creating their own electricity as they drive, are officially no longer the cars of the distant future. As Hyundai Motor America president and CEO John Frafcik said last week: “The future is much closer than you think.” Come spring, you can go to a select Southern California Hyundai dealer (one near the growing hydrogen station infrastructure), put down $2999 and drive away in a Tucson fuel cell car, a compact SUV with water as its only tailpipe emission, a 300-mile range on a tank of free (for the life of the $499/month loan) fuel, and free Concierge Service (like that offered with the Equus model). In other words, Hyundai is ushering in the hydrogen age and doing its best to make it an easy transition for the early adopters who choose to shift to zero emission driving. It made the announcement at the Los Angeles Auto Show, creating a stir among the more mundane introductions of conventional cars and trucks.
Hyundai, which has made a commitment to produce several thousand Tucson FCEVs on the same assembly line as its gas-powered cousin, is not alone as both Honda and Toyota will have their own fuel cells on sale in 2015. Both companies showed off concept cars hinting at the look of their 2015 FCEV sedans. Honda’s car, shown at the LA Auto Show a few hours before Hyundai’s announcement, was a futuristic design that will probably be tamed down for production, but clearly takes a page from its initial foray into hybrids with the 2000 Insight. Toyota’s FCEV, which was introduced at the Tokyo Auto Show, featured more conventional styling but carried the same promise as Hyundai of a consumer-friendly market approach.
Others Will Join In The Fuel Cell Parade
Of course, Mercedes, General Motors, Nissan, Ford, BMW and Volkswagen are not far behind the three leaders. All have their fuel cell cars ready to roll out (and some have done limited marketing as have Hyundai, Honda and Toyota) and are expected to hit the market prior to 2020.
The big hang up for fuel cells has been the refueling infrastructure. Unlike pure electric cars, which can rely on the ubiquity of electricity for easy, if slow, refueling, FCEVs need a network of stations to truly become a technology that can replace the internal combustion engine. Governments in Germany, Japan and Korea (and a few other spots in the world) have committed to build that infrastructure and California fell in line this year when it passed a bill to fund up to 100 stations, most of which will be located in Southern California where the cars will see their initial rollout.
Early adopters opting for the 2015 Tucson FCEV will get quite a deal. For comparison, we ran the numbers for a base gas-powered 2014 Tucson in Southern California. A 36-month lease with $2,999 down would give you $544/month payments – and you’d have to pay for your own gas and service!
Honda and Toyota didn’t have the retail details that Hyundai offered, but they made it clear that 2015 would be the introduction date of their fuel cell vehicles, which in the U.S. also will be targeted to the Southern California region with an infrastructure to support the cars.
The Hyundai Fuel Cell Deal
At the introduction, Hyundai’s Krafcik ticked off the advantages his company sees in fuel cell vehicles, compared with pure battery electrics. He also said there was plenty of room in the market for both types of zero emission vehicles, but FCEVs offered:
- Driving range of 300 miles,
- Capable of refueling in less than 10 minutes,
- Minimal reduction in daily utility compared with its gasoline counterpart,
- Minimal cold-weather effects, and
- Extensive crash, fire and leak testing.
What fuel cells share with battery electrics is instantaneous torque from its electric motor, good daily reliability and long-term durability, few moving parts, quiet operation and zero greenhouse gas emissions from operation. Krafcik noted that a UC Irvine study done this year found the well-to-wheels emissions of fuel cell vehicles to be lower not only than gas or diesel vehicles, but also battery electrics.
In addition to the straight sales pitch, Krafcik also said that the Tucson FCEVs will be available as rentals through Enterprise.
Honda Fuel Cell Concept
Honda Gets Zoomy With Its Next Fuel Cell
Honda, while adamant about the 2015 launch of its next generation fuel cell car, was less committal about planned volumes or price at the LA Auto Show. Honda has been leasing its FCX Clarity fuel cell for several years, but in very small volumes. Honda reviewed its history getting the public into its fuel cell cars, noting that the next generation’s fuel cell stack (the “engine” for an FCEV) will have a 60 percent power density improvement over the one used in the Clarity. The stack also is 30 percent smaller than its predecessor and costs have been reduced.
The Honda FCEV is a five-passenger sedan, similar in exterior size to its current FCX Clarity, but with a more spacious interior because of the smaller fuel cell stack. Honda didn’t release exterior dimensions of the concept, but said its stack would yield more than 100 KW of power output and would deliver a driving range of more than 300 miles.
Toyota Fuel Cell Concept
Like Honda, Toyota chose an auto show to unveil a concept version of the fuel cell sedan it will launch in 2015. The Camry-size four-passenger sedan, unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show last week, is a less radical design than Honda’s, appearing to be much closer to the production intent for the production version. Its released dimensions indicate it is slightly longer overall than a Camry (191.7 inches compared to 189.2 for for the Camry), has a wheelbase that is almost identical and is about a half-inch narrower. Toyota said its new fuel cell stack has a power density similar to Honda’s at 3 kW/liter, which they said represents more than twice that of its current stocks. The company also claimed reduced size and costs. Automotive News quoted Toyota officials as saying that fuel cell cars by 2020 will cost roughly the same as a plug-in hybrid to produce.
Toyota’s 2015 FCEV Concept
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By John Addison (5/11/11)
Shell Opens Third Hydrogen Station in Southern California
Shell announced the opening of a new demonstration hydrogen station in Torrance, California, the first in the US to have hydrogen delivered to the site directly from an existing underground pipeline. Excess hydrogen is typically available on the hydrogen pipelines used by oil refiners. Hydrogen is used to provide cleaner gasoline and diesel. Although hydrogen is most often reformed from natural gas, it is also available from the electrolysis of water wastewater treatment byproduct, and chemical plant byproduct.
Southern California has been the center for test deployment of hydrogen fuel cell cars. The West Coast has been the area of greatest use of hydrogen fuel cell buses, including the 20 hydrogen buses in Whistler, Canada that transported about 100,000 visitors during the last Winter Olympics.
Hydrogen fuel cell cars provide a way to give an electric car a range of up to 400 miles with hydrogen PEM fuel cells that supply added electricity to an electric drive system. GM successfully piloted 100 Equinox fuel cell vehicles during its Project Driveway. Toyota is planning to test 100 new fuel cell SUVs as it prepares for 2015 commercialization. Toyota FCHV Test Drive. 200 of the new Mercedes-Benz B-Call F-CELL are being put into use. Several automakers are targeting 2015 for the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles.
50,000 Commercial Hydrogen Cars by 2017 from Toyota, Honda, GM, Mercedes
Between 2008 and 2010, the fuel cell industry experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27% according to the new Fuel Cells Annual Report 2011 from Pike Research. The California Fuel Cell Partnership forecasts over 50,000 hydrogen vehicles on California roads by 2017.
“Shell is pleased to be an active participant in the development of hydrogen-fuelled transportation, one of a small number of options to reduce road transport emissions in the longer-term,” said Julian Evison, General Manager of Operations for Shell Alternative Energies. “Demonstration hydrogen filling stations allow us to evaluate a range of different technologies and learn valuable lessons about costs, consumer behavior, how to safely store hydrogen at different pressures and how to dispense it efficiently to different vehicles.’’
Initially, Shell expects 10 to 12 drivers to fill their tanks each day at the Torrance station’s two pumps, which provide hydrogen at both 350 bar (5,000 psi) and 700 bar (10,000 psi) pressure. Current fueling capacity is 48 kg. of hydrogen per day, equivalent to dispensing 48 gallons of gasoline. To exceed 200 mile range, most new fuel cell cars require 10,000 psi. Honda is the sole achiever of long-range at 5,000 psi with the Honda FCX Clarity. Only a handful of California stations support the high pressure fueling.
The close proximity of the hydrogen pipeline to TMS campus led Toyota to think beyond vehicles to consider additional ways to use hydrogen. In 2010, Toyota partnered with Ballard Power Systems to install a one-megawatt hydrogen fuel cell generator to offset peak electricity demand on campus. The fuel cell generator will be fed directly from the hydrogen pipeline through an existing tap on the TMS property. Pipeline hydrogen used on campus will be offset with the purchase of landfill generated renewable bio-gas.
The stand-alone station in Torrance offers only hydrogen and will be open 24 hours a day. Local fuel cell vehicle drivers will be trained to use the dispensers using personal access codes. The station is located on land provided by Toyota at the perimeter of its US headquarters.
Shell Delivers Hydrogen 24×7
“Vehicle demonstration programs and demonstration stations like the Torrance station are a critical next step in preparing the market for advanced technology vehicles,” said Chris Hostetter, Toyota GVP of Product and Strategic Planning. This is the third demonstration station Shell has developed in the region. Shell opened the first integrated gasoline/hydrogen station in California in 2008 (in West L.A.) and a smaller sister station in Culver City in 2009. Shell is planning on building a hydrogen refueling site at one of its gas stations in Newport Beach later this year.
The station has been anticipated for years due to the potential of pipelined hydrogen to be less expensive than gasoline. It is now open after years of delay thanks to support from Toyota and Shell, who were not initial project partners. The much touted California Hydrogen Highway was never funded.
In addition to Shell Hydrogen and Toyota, project partners for the Torrance hydrogen demo station include Air Products, the US Department of Energy and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
By Tom Bartley (4/30/11)
In 2012, Toyota will start selling an SUV with 100-mile electric range – the RAV4 EV. In 2015, Toyota will start selling an SUV with an electric drive and 400-mile range – the FCHV.
Electrically driven cars could fast become part of our transportation landscape and hydrogen is still in the running as a candidate fuel. As part of the Toyota Sustainable Transportation Symposium April 4-7, 2011, three fuel cell hybrid vehicles (FCHV) were part of the ride and drive. I had driven the original Toyota FCHV some years ago at the hydrogen station in Chula Vista. As I remember it was a Highlander model conversion. While these new ones look similar to the Highlander they could easily be a heavy RAV4.
After years of fleet tests, public sales of the FCHV are planned for 2015 or earlier. Toyota wants to have a fuel cell that will last the life of the car. Life cycle cost of the fuel cell, it’s fueling system, car components, and hydrogen as a widely available fuel are all challenges. I have been an early and continuing skeptic that there was any path to an affordable sustainable fuel cell for vehicles. Toyota is changing that by focusing on the economies-of-scale mass production technology and costs to drop the price to a small fraction of 2001 prices for the fuel cell and hydrogen fueling system. For now, Toyota has built 100 prototype FCVHs to put into fleet customers’ hands for demonstration in the U.S. If you would like to have one, the biggest requirement is having a hydrogen fueling station available.
Test Drive of the Toyota FCHV
Driving the test vehicle was smooth and quiet. I didn’t hear any of the fuel cell throttle compressor sounds, but occasionally heard the cycling of a small vacuum pump. This is a well-engineered comfortable functional small SUV. The overall design for performance and functionality matches today’s standard production cars for city and highway driving. The 10,000-psi compressed H2 fuel tank is well placed on the bottom rear of the car and does not cut into the storage space. To buffer the fuel cell power ramp rates to match the vehicle demands, Toyota uses a standard Prius battery that is also used to recycle the braking energy like a standard hybrid. There is masterful packaging of the fuel cell, electric drive and accessory components to neatly fit under the hood. The PRND selection lever had the extra “B” position like in the Plug-in Prius for getting more deceleration from the braking regen if desired. The passenger comfort controls, entertainment, navigation, and communication accessories are following the overall Toyota telematics evolution.
Looking at the range, efficiency, and operation side of this car, the numbers are impressive – 433 miles on one tank fill of 6.34 kg H2. One kg of H2 has energy content very close to 1 gallon of gasoline. That is 68.3 miles per gasoline gallon equivalent, about the same I got with the Plug-in Prius At 4,100 pounds, the FCHV is a bit heavier than the RAV4 EV. Both use a 90 kW electric drive motor. The drag coefficient is about .33 compared to the .25 for the Prius. Drag and weight are the two biggest factors when looking at average vehicle fuel efficiency. Braking energy recycling through regeneration and energy storage batteries also helps.
Carbon Intensity Comparison of Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Battery Electric Cars
The gasoline hybrid Prius is hard to beat if wasn’t for all the consequences of using gasoline as a fuel. Electric cars look much better as the electric energy mix moves to renewable energy and hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will depend heavily on the source of the hydrogen fuel. The FCHV is already in the competitive energy range. Whether or not the FCHV sells in 2015 will depend on whether or not the cost of the fuel cell comes down to the sustainable range, the hydrogen fueling infrastructure, the cost of other fuels, and the real or perceived penalty associated with GHG fuels. Here are some estimates:
Let’s assume that we want to look at the carbon intensity of using coal and petroleum carbon based fuels where: 34% is the carbon intensity of a coal burning power plant with 7% transmission and distribution losses, 36.6 kWh is the energy content of each a gallon of gasoline and a kg of hydrogen, a Prius gets about 285 Wh/mi, 13% of the plug-in Prius miles are on the battery, and the whole country will eventually go to 33% renewable energy with 7% transmission and distribution losses for our electricity. The 33% renewable added to the coal powered grid increases the carbon intensity to about 50%. The 50% is even higher for the combined cycle natural gas power plants. The carbon intensity of making hydrogen is about 50% by either electrolysis or reformation, but new processes could increase this up to 70%.
- Mitsubishi iMiev ~ 270 Wh/mi @ 27% of the power plant = 1000 Wh/mi; with 33% renewables @ 50% = 540 Wh/mi
- Nissan LEAF ~ 320 Wh/mi @ 27% of the power plant = 1185 Wh/mi; with 33% renewables @ 50% = 640 Wh/mi
- Toyota Prius ~ 50 mpg @ 36.6 kWh/gal = 732 Wh/mi, neglecting gasoline distribution costs
- Toyota Plug-in Prius ~ 67 mpg + 13% elect miles = (732*.87) + ((285/.27)*.13) = 774 Wh/mi; with 33% renewables @ 50% = 711 Wh/mi
- Toyota RAV4 EV ~ 370 Wh/mi @ 27% of the power plant = 1370 Wh/mi; with 33% renewable @ 50% = 740 Wh/mi
- 6. Toyota FCHV ~ 68.3 mi/kgH2 @ 36.6 kWh/kgH2 = 536 Wh/mi, which has to be degraded by the carbon intensity of making H2 @ 50% = 1072 Wh/mi; @ 70% = 765 Wh/mi. If the hydrogen is made from renewable energy on site the number goes to 0 Wh/mi, because no carbon fuels are used directly.