Toyota Begs NHTSA For Safety Exemption For Fuel Cell Sedan

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 39

Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan

Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan

Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan

Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan

Toyota is in the process of attempting to get a 2-year safety-related exemption from the NHTSA for its upcoming fuel cell sedan.

Bloomberg details the exemption as follows:

“The rule, called FMVSS No. 305, requires carmakers to isolate high-voltage parts in electric cars in the event of a crash. The company’s new car, which uses hydrogen to generate electricity, doesn’t fully meet this requirement because a mechanism for protecting against electrical shocks in lower-speed crashes would render its vehicle inoperable, Toyota said in a petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted by the regulator this month.”

Toyota would rather handle protecting occupants and first responders from shock risk in this way:

“…by insulating high-voltage cables and surrounding components such as the fuel-cell stack, motor and battery with metal barriers.”

We’re not sure if Toyota’s method is safe enough to be approved for use on public roads in the U.S.  The NHTSA will decide that.

If Toyota is not granted the exemption, then it’s back to the drawing board for the U.S. market Toyota fuel cell sedan.

Source: Bloomberg

Tags: , ,

39 responses to "Toyota Begs NHTSA For Safety Exemption For Fuel Cell Sedan"

  1. SIvad says:

    It’s not like Toyota was blindsided by this.

    “On June 14, 2010, NHTSA issued a final rule which amended the electrical shock protection requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 305, “Electric-powered vehicles; electrolyte spillage and electrical shock protection,” to facilitate the development and introduction of fuel cell vehicles, a type of electric-powered vehicle, and the next generation of hybrid and battery electric powered vehicles.”

    “This rule also provided greater flexibility by allowing manufacturers to meet the requirements of FMVSS No. 305 by designing their electrically powered vehicles so that, in the event of a crash, the electric energy storage, conversion, and propulsion systems are either electrically isolated from the vehicle’s chassis or their voltage is below specified levels considered safe from electric shock hazards.”

    If the other EV makers have complied why is this such a show stopper for Toyota. They didn’t delay the RAV 4 EV because of this, they complied with it. Sounds like they are stalling for some reason.

    http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2011-0107-0001

  2. DaveMart says:

    ‘it’s worth noting that this particular practice isn’t unusual in the automotive industry for limited-production or small-production run cars.

    Tesla, for example, has petitioned NHTSA on multiple occasions for exemption from various FMVSS, including once to exempt its limited-production two-seat Roadster from FMVSS 208, a safety standard requiring two-stage airbags, and to exempt it from FMVSS 126, a safety standard requiring electronic stability control.

    It is expected that Volkswagen will need to apply for FMVSS exemption in order to sell its XL1 plug-in hybrid car in the U.S., since rear view cameras in place of rear view mirrors are not allowed under existing FMVSS.

    Usually, exemptions are only given on either a temporary basis, or to limited production or low-volume vehicles, reinforcing what we already knew: Toyota’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will be available in limited numbers.’

    http://transportevolved.com/2014/07/01/toyota-asks-nhtsa-safety-exemption-hydrogen-fuel-cell-car/

    1. TomArt says:

      There is no excuse for safety exemptions for any vehicle. Hire competent engineers, hire competent managers that permit the competent engineers to design to safety standards, and then comply with the damn laws.

      1. DaveMart says:

        I would disagree, and I think that there is a very sound case for granting exemptions on some low volume vehicles.

        Sensible regulations are not set in stone, but are part of an ongoing dialogue to attain an optimal balance of cost and safety.

        Since the technology and ways of harnessing it changes, so must the regulatory environment and low volume exemptions are a good way of further proving different approaches.

        Do you really want to stick with rear view mirrors forever, when it seems certain that smart cameras will be able to do a far more effective job without blindspots?

        That is the sort of advance in the illustrated VW XLI which you are trying to rule out a priori.

        1. Alonso Perez says:

          I agree, so long as we are talking about low volume, meaning less than 1,000 or so cars per year.

          Also, the exemption requests must be reasonable and manufacturers should accept rejections of these requests.

          The story here is that this is further proof that Toyota will not make this car in high, or even mid, volume. It’s just a compliance/publicity car. The whole thing is energy theater.

          1. DaveMart says:

            Something of a chain of non sequiturs.

            As far as I can see the 1,000 limit is arbitrarily chose because it is lower than Toyota is making for this vehicle and you don’t much fancy the technology.

            On the contrary it would make considerable sense to use different quantity limits to test to different degrees technologies at various stages of development prior to full normal authorisation.

            Toyota will not produce this particular car in high volume.
            That does not prove it is ‘just’ a compliance car, as Toyota could have done the same job far cheaper by simply stuffing some batteries in any old body.

            They chose instead to develop fuel cell car because they happen to think that is the way to go, however much you may disagree with them.

            However they will produce a more refined version for larger scale production, in the same way as GM has done with the Volt, where the Volt I has never gone into large scale production.

            You don’t believe in fuel cell cars.
            We understand that.
            Toyota do however, and their actions confirm their words.

            1. Over three years, there are 900,000 oil burner Toyota cars sold in California according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

              The current 0.79% credits rule of CARB Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) sales means that 7110 credits must be earned over three model years. Each Rav4 EV earns 3 credits each, so 2370 battery electric cars solve that over the three model years 2012 – 2014. They will build 2600. Perfect, problem solved, and they really didn’t even advertise it, nor get their hands dirty designing it (Tesla built the entire drivetrain).

              But, the 9 credit Toyota hydrogen car needs only 790 individual sales over three model years TOTAL, or 263 average per each model year during 2015 – 2017 to meet that 0.79% threshold of ZEV credits.

              By 2025, however if the 9 credits for hydrogen are retained (they are scheduled to disappear in 2018), then Toyota would only have to sell 5,333 hydrogen cars per year IN CALIFORNIA ONLY (none in the several other CARB-ZEV states) without any battery electric cars sold, even at 16% of total credits in model year 2025!!!!

              Hydrogen is WIN – WIN for Toyota and others in the hydrogen camp that really don’t wish to be in the ZEV game.

              Soichiro Okudaira, chief officer of Toyota’s research and development group, told Automotive News Europe said that fuel cell vehicles won’t be priced to compete with battery electrics before 2030.

              Model year —- ZEV Credit % of total annual sales

              2012 ———— 0.79%
              2018 ———— 2.00%
              2019 ———— 4.00%
              2020 ———— 6.00%
              2021 ———— 8.00%
              2022 ———– 10.00%
              2023 ———– 12.00%
              2024 ———– 14.00%
              2025 ———– 16.00%

        2. You make a good point. Rules should be flexible enough to enable the deployment of innovative technologies, especially at small scale.

          1. DaveMart says:

            It makes sense not to be rigid at this stage in the particular issue of how best to manage high voltages safely.

            We have only relatively recently started using them, so flexibility whilst we try different methods would appear to be the only sensible course, or we could miss very good approaches by being pre-emptive before we have a lot of experience.

        3. Mike says:

          NO. Take it Back to the Lab, and Fix it First.

          1. DaveMart says:

            Would you mind being specific about the respects in which Toyota engineers have made the wrong decisions on this?

            BTW since AFAIK neither Hyundai nor Honda have asked for the same exemption, it does not appear to be something inherent in fuel cell vehicles, but the result of specific choices they have made as they feel this to be a superior approach?

            Unless of course your comment does not originate from a specific engineering reason why this exemption should not be granted, or a general principle that no car whether fuel cell, ICE or any other should ever be granted any exemptions whatsoever and that present regulations are perfect and not susceptible to further improvement, but from an objection to fuel cell cars in principle so that you are keen to put any obstacle that you can find in their way?

            1. Anton Wahlman says:

              These are very good points that you are making.

  3. JRMW says:

    After the recent anti-EV ads that Lexus put out, I admit to shadenfreude.

    I’d love to see Nissan and Tesla put out an ad showing an FCV owner getting electrocuted after a minor tap on the bumper if Toyota gets the exemption and releases the FCV

  4. offib says:

    “Pfft!” was my reaction when I saw the title.

  5. Andrew says:

    Oh man this is getting good! What a cluster.

    Hey, Toyota, lots of homes have electricity now. It’s a very convenient way to power an automobile. Try it.

  6. Ryan says:

    BOOOOOOM!!!! I can just see it now!

  7. Alaa says:

    And to think that the NHTSA was after Tesla for a couple of fires; good God.

    1. big solarm says:

      Speaking of fires, how many gas car fires have we had in the us this year? Just wondering.

      1. big solar says:

        Crap, just got this tablet and already spelled my name wrong.

  8. DonC says:

    I think NHTSA should allow this only in Texas, which is where Toyota is moving to.

  9. Chris O says:

    Shocking! Well, potentially anyway…

    If I were Toyota and wanted people to believe that hydrogen is the future somehow I would make very sure the first cars I put in the hands of the public were as safe as they could possibly be.

    Unless of course it has reason to be believe that not every incident with HFCVs will result into the sort of media frenzy Tesla has to put up with.

  10. Foo says:

    The front of this car looks like a catfish.

    1. SIvad says:

      That’s because they need to scoop all that oxygen in there for the fuel cell stack in the front. They need a lot of oxygen for that fuel cell to power their massive 135 hp output.

      Just imagine how much surface area they would need to feed a fuel cell stack that could provide 400 horses like the Tesla. They would need a hood scoop and an electric hybrid turbocharger. That’s why you won’t see any big hp numbers on a FCV for quite some time. Doesn’t do much for your cd numbers either.

      1. SIvad says:

        Here’s a case study of a high power FCV that has to carry the oxygen on board in high pressure tanks because it can’t provide enough ambient incoming air to the fuel cell.

        http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/4220281

        “It carries two huge, high-pressure hydrogen tanks and a third tank for a 60/40 mixture of helium and oxygen. These gases are mixed and fed into a gigantic fuel cell mounted under the Fusion’s body. The pressurized helium/oxygen mixture allows the fuel cells to generate more power than ambient air because of its higher oxygen content, and high-pressure storage eliminates the need for an air compressor. “

  11. Omar Sultan says:

    Perhaps the most interesting part of the Bloomberg article says they will limit deliveries to 2,500 units a year–was not clear if that was US-only or combined worldwide, but either way, its screams compliance car and that volume is not going to do anything to drive infrastructure build-out, unless its on the taxpayer’s dime.

  12. Priusmaniac says:

    One would have expected a buffer battery to allow enough power to keep the car operable without the fuel cell working. After a crash you won’t use lots of electricity anyway since you just need to reach the sideway at most.

  13. Jouni Valkonen says:

    I just wonder why Toyota is interested on US markets and especially Californian car markets?

    Why not try to sell them e.g. in India where there are lots of rich per square km and annual 35 000 luxury car markets?

  14. pete g says:

    How I see it, when someone does get electrocuted they could always blame sloppy Americans dumping coffee and french fries into the mechanism. Oh wait they already used that excuse my bad.

  15. ydnas7 says:

    For an experimental vehicle, this exemption should be OK.

    For a hybrid, this exemption would not be OK.

    Basically, they don’t want the system to ‘fail to safe’ as that could make development difficult.

    All cars that go to end users should ‘fail to safe’ so this is an exemption suitable for a car that is not driven by end users, but is driven by company testers.

  16. GeorgeS says:

    I’m sorry but you guys sound like the anti EV crowds before we got EV’s going.

    Get real. Hydrogen is going to happen. It is a matter of energy density. You can’t fly an airliner on batteries….ooh I mean a space shuttle.

    Germany will start the infrastructure. They have to have it in order to make their grid work with all their renewables.

    Fuel Cells may not be that good for a small app like a passenger car but it has to start some where.

    And the CO2 is Zero cuz the Germans are making all the H2 with unused wind

    Get over it!

    1. I think fuel cells are great for electrical grid uses, all kept away from residential and school areas, locked behind gates like any nuclear plant, oil refinery, etc.

      Same for shipping and rail, and MAYBE long haul trucking.

      At least until $100 per kWh batteries from the Tesla Gigafactory around 2020. That’s also when Tesla Model S, X, 3, et al, should fully be up to speed and the Supercharger network built out.

      Good luck personal hydrogen car makers; I’m sure the governments will take great care of you.

      1. Priusmaniac says:

        Perhaps also for long range boats or high capacity cargo dirigibles and energy storage during the 14 days night on the moon, but for cars it is not convenient, not cheap and not safe.

    2. Taser54 says:

      Many of EV crowd needs to face the fact that Japan is embracing the hydrogen economy. With Japan’s focus on decentralized energy storage via hydrogen, it simply makes sense that they will offer fuel cell vehicles (which no one is forced to buy).

      Much like electricity generation, Hydrogen generation can arise from renewables and non-renewables. EV advocates constantly point to natural gas reformation for hydrogen production is as disingenuous as anti-EV advocates pointing to electricity produced by coal.

      It’s time for you to step back. Hydrogen production may be inefficient now, but it is the ONLY way to achieve the national scale of energy storage for renewables. Germany knows this, Japan knows this, and you(general term) should know this.

  17. jmac says:

    Are Diesel locomotives really electric trains ??

    The traction motors that actually turn the locomotive’s wheels are electric motors. but no one calls diesel trains “Electric Trains” That would be stupid, right ?

    By the same token Hydrogen vehicles that run
    exclusively on H2 are not truly electric cars even though the traction motors in both diesel trains and fuel cell vehicles are electric motors.

    In the case of Diesel trains, they must have diesel fuel to run.

    In the case of H2 vehicles, they absolutely must have hydrogen to run.

    Hydrogen cars are exactly that — cars that run exclusively on hydrogen, just as diesel trains run on diesel fuel exclusively.

    Diesel trains are not true electric trains and hydrogen fuel cell cars are not true electric cars for that simple reason.

    Get over it !

    1. Lad says:

      I’ve gotten over it. it was easy. Loose all the hydrogen crap; install a large battery where the hydrogen tank(bomb) was and you have an excellent BEV that looks like a cat fish.

    2. Jesse Gurr says:

      They are called diesel-electric trains. I guess then these cars should be called hydrogen-electric cars. Is that “politically correct” enough for you?

  18. vdiv says:

    How much energy is required to boil water to 800°C for steam reformation of natural gas to produce hydrogen gas?
    How much energy is required to provide the water?
    How much energy is required to sequester the resulting carbon dioxide?

    Can we use all of this energy for charging battery EVs instead?