Toyota Admits It’ll Take Until 2030 to Make Fuel Cell Vehicles Cost Competitive With EVs

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 25

Toyota FCEV Concept

Toyota FCEV Concept

Recently, Soichiro Okudaira, chief officer of Toyota’s research and development group, told Automotive News Europe that fuel cell vehicles will be priced to compete with battery electrics before 2030.

By 2030, an FCEV Might Finally Be Costs Competitive With An EV - Our Advice? Don't Hold Your Breath

By 2030, an FCEV Might Finally Be Cost Competitive With An EV – Our Advice? That’s 17 Years Away…Just Go Buy an EV

As we see it, that’s way too late for fuel cell vehicle to stand a fighting chance against plug-ins.

Quoting Okudaira:

“Beyond 2020 …. fuel cell cars will be considered just one alternative of the eco cars.”

Toyota says it expects to sell 5,000 to 10,000 units of its first production fuel cell vehicle when it launches in early 2015.  This sales figure is a right-out-of-the-gate number, meaning that Toyota expects annual sales of its FCEV to be between 5,000 and 10,000 units from 2015 on.

The problem is that Toyota’s FCEV is still far too expensive for the automaker to hit the volume of sales it desire.  It’s believed Toyota will price its FCEV at ~$75,000 to $100,000.  Few buyers will line up at that absurd price.  It’s certain to us that there’s no possibility Toyota will hit 10,000 or even 5,000 units sold at the price, especially when the refueling infrastructure is basically non-existent.

Come 2030 or so, when FCEVs reach EV price parity, EVs will have advanced so far and become so mainstream that FCEVs won’t compete in the passenger vehicle segment.  At least that’s how we see it.

Source: Automotive News Europe

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25 responses to "Toyota Admits It’ll Take Until 2030 to Make Fuel Cell Vehicles Cost Competitive With EVs"

  1. nwdiver says:

    Yeah, in 2030 FCEVs cars will be where EVs are…. TODAY. Where do you think EVs will be in 15 years?

  2. Nick Prudent says:

    Totally agree with the author. The auto industry knows fuel cell vehicles are not coming. In the movie “Who Killed The Electric Car?” one exec just admitted that hydrogen will always be “in the future” and it is clear that they are counting on the oil companies to build the infrastructures.

    Only Tesla is willing to put its money where its mouth is and invest in EV infrastructure. They will be handsomely rewarded for that in the future as other manufacturers seek to use the existing Tesla charging network to support other EV cars.

    The thing is, oil companies have no reason to invest in hydrogen infrastructure as long they are making huge profits from simpler, cheaper oil refineries. Beside, it takes a huge amount of electricity to create the hydrogen fuel to begin with — why not use that electricity to power cars and trucks directly using batteries? Hydrogen power has great application in space/satellite propulsion but will not be competitive with battery cars for a long time. 2030 is actually quite optimistic.

    Also, fuel cell cars (those not using hydrogen tanks) are basically electric cars with a different type of battery. So it is entirely possible that one day we’ll see specialized electric cars with fuel cell batteries as “range extenders”.

    Thank goodness, we’re already living in the EV future… 🙂

    1. David Murray says:

      Indeed.. I see the future of the FCEV as being primarily a battery powered car, but having a fuel cell stack for a range extender. I’m also willing to bet that pure hydrogen will not be popular due to the size and pressure requirements of the tank, and thus something liquid like methanol will wind up being more popular.

    2. Spec9 says:

      Actually, the oil companies would LOVE IT if people bought lots of FCVs. They have more natural gas than they know what to do with and it can easily be steam-reformed into H2 (it does not require a lot of electricity). But the problem is FCVs are damned expensive. They’ve built some H2 fueling stations though but not many.

      Another issue is that gas stations are now mostly locally owned instead of owned by the IOCs. And local gas stations have no reason to install H2 dispensers.

  3. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    H2 fuel cell vehicles are almost entirely a nonstarter, unless it can be efficiently reformulated from gasoline/diesel/natural gas. ANY fuel cell vehicle is a nonstarter unless and until fuel cell prices go down to 6-10 cents per Watt.

    A solid-oxide fuel cell that can get 20kW out of a gallon of gas and be 100kW at a price of $6000-$10000 would be a game changer.

    1. Bob A says:

      While the cell phone and computer industries are driving battery technologies faster than EVs, really, the driver for fuel cells includes emergency backup (think hospitals, data centers, military installations, cell towers, etc.), residential use (especially where solar is limited or co-generation – electric power and hot water or heating – is needed), and mainline generation (power plants, or at least that used to be so). These things will continue to drive the tech till they succeed or until something better comes along.

      I would not count them out. And I don’t see why it needs to be an ‘us-or-them’ proposition. If you need to bring lots of electrical power to various locations for recharging electric cars, you need to install a lot of expensive wiring. Or you could maybe do local generation (and get heat and/or hot water to boot), utilizing existing natural gas infrastructure. Share the load. Multiple sources of power would add reliability to the system and reduce overload potential. (What would the electrical loads on the distribution look like if 80% of the cars in L. A. traffic were electric?)

      I guess I am just looking to minimize carbon. I like electric vehicles (and yearn for the day when they make one that will comfortably hold my 6’4″ frame.) Anything that makes it unprofitable to produce oil is ok by me.

      1. muchski says:

        The issue is that the hydrogen economy as it now produces more carbon than even fossil fuels. Using solar or renewables for making hydrogen is way less efficient than even todays ev tech. Hydrogen is a non starter other than for rockets until there is a better alternative.

        What we need are compelling renewables and hydrogen r and d seems like a waste when we could further our progress on battery tech, smart grids, and even fusion power! Mind you they are building a $20 billion demonstration ITER fusion reactor in Europe so if all goes well it should generate more power than it consumes by the 2020s.

        1. Bob A says:

          I was unaware of that. Could you please cite a reference that I can read?


        2. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

          If an affordably-priced SOFC system could get 20+ kWh worth of electricity out of a gallon of gas, that in and of itself would be worth pursuing as it would reduce gas use pretty dramatically. An SUV or luxury sedan would get at least 40mpg, and a compact car would get 80+mpg. Again, that would require a gas/diesel/NG-compatible SOFC costing between 6 and 10 cents per Watt, vs current costs of $1 or more.

      2. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

        25kW for $25k _could_ work for residential, though IMO if you’ve got natural gas service to your house especially in colder regions a NG-powered CHP engine is probably a better choice.

        NG-based SOFC installations like the Bloom Box also rely on NG-power pricing being both stable and lower (or at least comparable to) utility-delivered electricity, though there’s a certain amount of utility in being able to generate your own power and not being subject to brownouts or ToU/tiering.

        But for a decently-performing vehicle with 100kW, $100,000 for just the “engine” is ridiculous. For a (sub)compact with a 50kW “engine”, $50,000 is almost more so.

        If Bloom Boxes and other SOFC applications can drive prices per Watt down by an order of magnitude in a relatively short period of time, more power to them (no pun intended). Between patents, miniaturization and materials I just don’t see it happening anytime soon.

  4. Ocean Railroader says:

    What could be going on with the hydrogen car is that it could be like the Stanly Steamers the steam powered cars where they made a few thousand of them but they slowly died out. The reason why the steamers died out was that they where hard to fuel up on the road and had a lot of complex parts that broke down. The EV’s at the time where able to gain a foot hold over them do to them being able to go faster and do it safer and cleaner. In that the steam powered cars where known to be dangerous and slow to start up. I find it kind of wild that the EV was able to fight something like this over a 110 years ago and now it’s going up angst something that may sound futuristic but it’s more like the steam cars.

    1. Jesse Gurr says:

      Gas cars were also dangerous and slow to start up, until the electric starter came into play. But I think steam cars were probably easier to fuel than gas cars at the time because all you needed was water and some source for fire or heat. Fuel was usually kerosene since that was the most widely available fuel at the time, since it was used for everything including in-home heating and lighting. They could also be used with gasoline or diesel. Heck, you could even use coal if it was built that way, just like a steam locomotive.
      Reading up on it a little, steam cars share some traits with electric cars. Namely only needing a single gear transmission for the same reason that electric cars do, high torque at 0 RPM. Maybe steam should make a comeback using propane or even renewable ethanol. Ah, nice dreams. 😀

  5. Lou Grinzo says:

    Hydrogen… oy.

    I look at this situation in terms of barriers to mainstream acceptance.

    To achieve that lofty goal, what do EVs need? Cheaper batteries. Period. Make batteries cheap enough so that a $25K, 200 mile car is a reality, and ICE, hydrogen FC, and everything else will disappear so fast it will give you whiplash. And we’re getting much closer to that level of price/performance than most people realize (except people on sites like this one, obviously).

    What’s standing between hydrogen FCs and mainstream acceptance? Vastly cheaper fuel cells (starting much higher than current EV drivetrain prices), and a massive infrastructure build out, starting from virtually zero.

    This is not to say that hydrogen has zero chance. But the combination of needed technological advancement plus that massively expensive, all-new infrastructure makes it a very, very long shot.

    As for plug-in cars and their mainstream gains, consider all the EVs and PHEVs that will be on the market by the end of 2015 in the US. By 2030 EVs will be the accepted, “normal” vehicle technology that many drivers literally grew up with, and anything else, including liquid fueled vehicles, will be “weird”.

  6. Marc Guindon says:

    If hydrogen can be eventually produced using excess energy from Home solar arrays (or wind) it may stand a chance, as long as H2 can be pressurized. For this to happen, FIT programmes will likely have to collapse (not impossible) due to eventual excess afternoon solar power production.

    Toyota must have developed something we can’t see yet. I’m pretty sure this is a calculated risk; they’re not known to take such reckless risks.

    1. Spec9 says:

      Or . . . people can just efficiently charge their EVs while parked at work with that excess energy.

  7. MrEnergyCzar says:

    Toyota sunk billions into regular hybrids and doesn’t want to have to make serious plug-in hybrids….or pure EV’s…


    1. The good news for Toyota, is they just need to swap out the fuel cell box and the pressurized hydrogen tank with a battery pack of similar, or lower cost. 😉

      A fuel cell vehicle already has a small battery pack, motor and all the electronics found in a BEV. It just needs enough added battery capacity to meet daily driving needs from the battery pack alone.

      Nothing bad about making the fuel cell an option for these wanting a hydrogen-powered range-extender for long trips. Choices of options for a ~$10,000 battery pack with less range vs. $60,000+ for a range-extending fuel cell? A third option could be a gas-powered ICE range extender like the i3 … burning hydrogen, NG, or liquid fossel fuel at lower cost point (and using existing infrastructure).

  8. Volt says:

    it will take 2,030 years

  9. Surya says:

    I don’t see FCEVs taking off any time soon. There’s no infrastructure. At least you can charge a BEV at home without much investment.

    1. Jouni Valkonen says:

      Toyota just said that it will take at least to year 2030. And this is as far as possible to removed from “any time soon”.

  10. Jouni Valkonen says:

    In other words, Toyota’s fuel cell vehicle is an expensive golf cart that sole existence is purposed to extract government subsidies at niche markets and ensure that ICE dominance will remain at least for 2030.

  11. Spec9 says:

    C’mon. Anytime anyone says something like “but in 15 years . . . . ” what they are really saying is that “We don’t know how to do it but we are hoping we can figure it out in the next couple decades.”

    That is not an engineering project, that is a science research project.

    1. Jouni Valkonen says:

      No, it is not Science Research project, but it is ICE marketing ploy and feeble attempt to try to greenwash their industry.

  12. Dan Frederiksen says:

    So… you’re saying HFC cars are 15 years away?
    Sounds oddly familiar, toyota retards.

  13. Ben says:

    I hope it bankrupts Toyota, that means less horrible looking cars in the future.