Toyota, the world's largest auto maker, which has produced the most battery HEV packs ever, is testing a fleet
of one hundred fuel cell Highlanders. The plan is to possibly ease the Highlander into production by 2015.
The sales price estimate for these hydrogen-powered rigs is $50,000 per Highlander.
The Highlander FCV has evolved from the Toyota FCHV, which featured a 400 volt DC fuel cell stack; a 274
volt Ni-MH battery pack, similar to the Prius pack; and a 5,000 psi tank.
The latest Toyota FCV has a 96 kW cell stack, about equal to 120 hp. The 10,000 psi hydrogen tank holds
6 kilos (13.2 lbs) of gas, enough to travel about 300 miles.
Test drivers of the new Highlander say it handles just about like any EV: quiet and responsive. Top speed is
96 mph, and acceleration is good.
General Motors Fuel Cell Vehicles
GM has been busy over the years with the fuel cell, and has no less than five FCVs listed. Though most of these cars are not on dealers' lots, operating specs are listed for each vehicle from practical to pure concept:
Equinox FCV - The Equinox is a crossover SUV. It features a 93 kWh fuel cell linked to a 73 kW (98 hp) front wheel drive motor providing up to 320 ft-lbs peak torque. Range is given as between 200 miles per tank of 10,000 psi H2 gas.
The Equinox tips the scales at 4,400 pounds. The rig will hit 60 mph in 12 seconds, with a top end of 100 mph.
Chevrolet Sequel - The Sequel is similar in stature to a Cadillac SRX. The car features aluminum body components. It tips the scales at about 4,500 pounds. The fuel cell is the same as the Equinox.
However, the car lists 3-AC electric motors with a total stump-pulling, peak torque of 2,920 pound feet. This is more than most 3/4 ton pickup trucks. Wow, that is what GM lists. Zero to sixty is then under 10 seconds, top speed is showing as 90 mph, and the range as some 300 miles.
HydroGen3 fuel cell vehicle - This vehicle is configured to run on either liquid or compressed hydrogen. The advantage of liquid fuel is a 249-mile range vs. the 168 miles provided by the compressed gas tank. The vehicle is an experimental platform.
Hy-Wire - This FCV is so named for the combination of drive-by-wire and fuel cell capabilities. The Hy-Wire is conceptual and offers a range of about 80 miles. Since this is actually 20 miles less than the Nissan Leaf BEV, and will probably cost way more, it seems unlikely the Hy-Wire will be produced anytime soon.
GM Autonomy - This is purely a concept car. It has some radical lines. As a general rule, most concept cars are not produced and the Autonomy seems no exception, though nice to look at.
Daimler Fuel Cell Vehicles
Daimler is well invested in fuel cell technology from cars to buses. The company has been operating FCV test fleets since 2003.
The F-Cell car runs on a 90 kW fuel cell stack providing power to a 100 kW (134 hp) electric motor. The stack is fed by 4 kg (8.8 lbs) of hydrogen stored in a 10,000 psi tank.
The setup gives a top speed of 105 mph (170 kph) and a range of 240 miles (385 km).
Compare the F-Cell car to the F-Cell Citaro bus -
The F-Cell bus runs on a 250 kW fuel cell stack providing power to a 205 kW (275 hp) electric motor. The stack is fed by 44 kg (88 lbs) of hydrogen stored in a 5,000 psi tank.
The setup gives a top speed of 50 mph (80 kph) and a range of 124 miles (200 km).
Nissan Terra FCEV
Nissan is getting into the fuel cell segment with the Terra. The Terra is powered by two rear wheel electric motors fed by an onboard hydrogen fuel cell. This setup increases interior room for things people like to put in an SUV. The fuel cell is stated to be some 83% discounted over other designs due to a radical reduction in the use of precious metals.
The Nissan based driveline in the Terra is controlled using iPod like controls along with other advanced mechanisms. Seating is unique as well, placed to maximize vision. The Terra is a step into the future of e-motoring. It is now however just a concept.
Hyundai Fuel Cell Production
Hyundai has plans to mass produce fuel cell cars. The company has produced the first Tucson ix35 FCEV and has
plans to make 1,000 units for agency use by the year 2015.
Aston Martin Fields High Performance Hydrogen
Aston Martin entered the H2 powered Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring race. The
car hit 160 mph with just 30 seconds to refill its 5,076 psi (350 bar) tank.
Most major auto manufacturers have, or have had, some sort of FCV program. These programs have been underway since the late 1990s, and have yet to produce a commercially viable vehicle. A few FCVs are listed below.
Honda Clarity FCV
The Clarity is the result of years of FCV refinements, and the only FCV currently on the market. The Honda vertical flow fuel cell stack is reported to save space, weight, and provide greater stability. In addition, the design includes a Li-Ion battery pack and regenerative braking to capture energy lost in stopping the car.
The hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicle is one type of EV that could be a key in transport future. The fuel cell EV (FCV) offers clean power without the range and weight limitations of the battery electric vehicle or BEV. The big drawback to the FCV is high cost.
The hydrogen fuel cell offers the opportunity to take clean generated hydrogen (wind, solar, or geothermal), and use it for clean vehicles. The reality is that costs continue to elude practical limits. It turns out that just the process of creating the hydrogen from electrolysis or natural gas uses a lot of energy.
New technology may improve that situation, though no telling just when.
Costs for BEV battery packs are forecast to gradually fall. Prices for the FCV are
however forecast to exceed BEV costs for the foreseeable future.
Honda Clarity - $600 per month Lease
The fuel cell stack in the Clarity powers a 100 kW, or 134 hp, electric motor. The Honda Civic Hybrid claims 130 hp for comparison. The Li-Ion battery pack is listed at 288 volts.
Tank pressure is listed at 5,000 psi providing a 240-mile driving range. Weight of the Clarity comes in at 3582 lbs, about 1,000 pounds over the weight of the Hybrid cars.
Aston Martin fields a high performance hydrogen car