Toyota Mirai Chief Engineer Says Musk’s Right About Electric Cars

5 days ago by Steven Loveday 83


Toyota Mirai

Toyota renews its push for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, despite some fairly anemic sales and being keen on the fact that — as Tesla’s Elon Musk asserts — the technology is “incredibly dumb”.

Yes, the chief engineer of the Toyota Mirai FCV, Yoshikazu Tanaka, openly admitted (via Reuters):

“Elon Musk is right – it’s better to charge the electric car directly by plugging in.”

Toyota has sold ~2,400 Mirais in the U.S. since it arrived on our shores in October of 2015. Globally, sales sit at about 4,300. More Tesla Model S’ were sold in the U.S. in September than Mirais across the globe in over two years (make that two consecutive Septembers, actually). Compare the Mirai’s sales figures to that of the Toyota Prius, which has sold about 4 million copies globally thus far. The Prius Prime (PHEV), which is a global leader for EV sales, hit 16,682 copies sold in the U.S. as of this October.

Tesla Model 3

To say that Elon Musk’s Model 3 is exponentially more popular than the Mirai would be an egregious understatement, but Tesla still struggles to produce it in quantity

Nonetheless, Toyota is standing behind fuel-cell technology. The automaker believes that even though EVs are better, there’s still a place in the market for FCVs.

Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told Reuters:

“We don’t really see an adversary ‘zero-sum’ relationship between the EV (electric vehicle) and the hydrogen car. We’re not about to give up on hydrogen electric fuel-cell technology at all.”

The automaker believes that in order to phase out ICE cars, both future technologies are needed. Uchiyamada again made it clear that Toyota is not against EVs and is investing in both platforms, as well as moving forward with solid-state lithium-ion batteries.

The only advantage of FCVs over plug-ins is charging time. However, without any refueling infrastructure outside of a few areas, this hardly helps. Automakers are working on technology to assure that EVs will enjoy much faster charging times in the near future, which will leave the FCV platform without a single advantage over EVs* (at least to consumers). Not to mention the fact the Mirai dials at some ~$60,000, compared to the Prius Prime’s ~$27,000 starting price. Although Toyota is trying to entice buyers with generous lease offers.

In terms of range, the current Mirai gets 350-400 km (190-250 miles). Reuters points out:

“A fuel cell car’s practical range usually dips to 65-70 percent of its “sticker” range – 650 km for the Mirai – because drivers often use air-conditioning and accelerate with abandon.”

Tanaka explained that the goal is to raise the car’s “practical range” to about 500 km (310 miles) due to the lack of charging infrastructure. As part of a joint effort with Nissan in Japan, the companies have built a network of 91 total hydrogen refueling stations, which is hardly enough to make the vehicles practical, regardless of range.

Editor’s Note:  Because the obvious backstory is not being brought forward by Toyota, we’d like to take a moment to comment on the other and likely main reason the Toyota Mirai is still a “thing” in the US over a fully-electric option from the company.

A 300 mile FCV nets NINE California ZEV credits per sale – worth up to $5,000 a pop (~45k total) in avoided compliance charges, or these credit can be sold for cash to other non compliant OEMS.  Not only that, these credits can “travel” outside of California to be used in other “CARB states”, avoiding the need to make zero emission sales outside of the state…which is unlike ~200+ miles EVs, that for 2018 on, only net 4 credits, and credits can’t be transferred to other states.

Additionally, the development of fuel cell technology and its production is still well incentivized in Toyota’s domestic market.  Then part of that end local result, in the form of the Japan-build Mirai, is then exported to the US to pick up the additional compliance bonus.


The Toyota Prius Prime (PHEV) is as electric as it gets for the automaker for the time being and it’s selling quite well. It’s proof that EVs would be a much better direction for Toyota. Oh well …

Toyota is also focusing its FCV efforts on China. According to Reuters:

“Last month, Shanghai announced plans to promote development of fuel-cell vehicles by adding hydrogen refueling stations, subsidizing companies developing fuel-cell technologies and setting up R&D facilities. The city’s goal is to put 20,000 hydrogen fuel-cell passenger vehicles and 10,000 commercial vehicles on the road by 2025.”

Added to all of this, Toyota is attempting to get other automakers on board with hydrogen fuel-cell technology. The company started the Hydrogen Council with the help of Air Liquide. The group already has representation from 27 companies, including the likes of Audi, BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, Shell, and Total. The council asserts (via Reuters):

“electricity supplies can be limited and unstable in high demand. That’s because power grids have small buffers as electricity cannot be stored easily and transported. Large-scale adoption of hydrogen can solve that issue, said Toyota’s Uchiyamada, who is also co-chair of the Hydrogen Council.

Electricity generated during the night, which usually goes to waste when unused, and electricity generated by solar and windmills can be stored and easily transported as liquid hydrogen, much like gasoline.”

No matter how you look at it — and even Toyota agrees — EVs are the better way to go by leaps and bounds, and people are actually buying them! However, the automaker is compelled to push forward with FCVs due to early investments (and ZEV credits). We can only hope that whatever investments it’s making into EVs and battery technology pays off, and produce results in the near future, as well.

Source: Reuters

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83 responses to "Toyota Mirai Chief Engineer Says Musk’s Right About Electric Cars"

  1. mx says:

    Because hydrogen is no solution to global warming, and you’re talking to the California market? where drought and wildfires are epidemic symptoms of global warming, that doesn’t make sense.

    As long as hydrogen takes more energy to formulate and you formulate it from methane it will be no solution to climate change and not cheaper than gas.

    So, if the CEO is not in line with the chief engineer then there’s a management problem at Toyota.

    It doesn’t matter if somehow the US voted for Trump, as global warming gets worse and worse the Republican party will soon feel the literal heat to either change or lose more elections.

    The Arctic continues to melt down more rapidly then the scientific consensus of the Paris Climate Accord predicts.

    The Arctic is in meltdown visually now, in real time. You don’t need no climate satellite to see the deviation any more.
    You make America Great Again by getting Corporations OUT of Politics, or we Die as a Nation.

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      And yet, CARB is heavily incentivizing Toyota to build the Mirai thanks to nine credits for every sale.

      If I lived in California I’d be calling CARB weekly to complain and insist that particular piece of legislation be changed.

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        The head of CARB currently drives a Mirai.

        Toyota got CARB spins around its fingers.

        1. Mint says:

          Guys, the Mirai sells in far too low volume to worry about FCV favoritism.

          I actually think it’s a good thing, because even with FCVs being worth more CARB credits, the Mirai is a flop.

    2. EVer says:

      Well said; sad that the voters keep believing the lies of the well-constructed Republican PR campaigns and voting against their own best interests. Educating the voters with truth is a job the Democrats are losing.

  2. Eco says:

    If an FCV can ‘reform’ Hydrogen from conventional fuels, the resulting pollution is much less than burning the fuel in an ICE.

    Nissan is testing an SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell) ‘reforming’ Hydrogen from Bio-Ethanol in Brazil.

    PowerCell Sweden has developed a Fuel Cell that uses Hydrogen ‘reformed’ from any Hydrocarbon fuel including Diesel.

    1. mx says:

      AKA: Solutions that don’t scale, and will never be cheaper the solar and wind.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Never mind solar and wind; it won’t be cheaper than gasoline while offering no advantage to the end user. Why would anyone pay more to have worse experience?

        1. SJC says:

          Wind and solar can make hydrogen, bio methane can be reformed into hydrogen.

          1. ClarksonCote says:

            It’s less efficient to make hydrogen from wind and solar than it is to just charge a battery. Like 4 times less efficient.

          2. skierpage says:

            Wind and solar *could* provide electricity to make hydrogen but nobody does this (demonstration programs and Nikola Motors’ pipedream don’t count. The electricity is generally useful for other things, and if there is little demand then the price drops so intermittent users load up, e.g. everyone recharges their batteries. The window wherein there’s heaps of electricity and no one using it so you can waste efficiency making hydrogen may *never* open.

            1. David Cary says:

              I agree with you except that solar has a significant seasonal variation and that doesn’t correlate well with usage. Generation is highest in April in my area when usage is the lowest. I can’t come up with any way to use more electricity in April that makes sense. Vacations so people drive only decreases commercial use.

              So April could be hydrogen generating month to pay for summer road trips. We have a long long way to go

          3. SparkEV says:

            “Wind and solar can make hydrogen”

            Yes, and I can take Wind and Solar to power a nuclear reaction to turn lead into gold. There’s a reason why no one does that outside of labs. Same is true why H makes no sense, definitely not for cars.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Nissan is testing an SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell) ‘reforming’ Hydrogen from Bio-Ethanol in Brazil.”

      Well that would certainly make FCEVs far less polluting and far less wasteful of energy. It would actually make them better for Planet Earth than gasmobiles, instead of worse as they currently are. In short, they would no longer be “fool cell” cars.

      But it would still leave them as an absurd and money-wasting attempt to put a science fair experiment into mass production. By the time such tech could be improved sufficiently to be economically competitive with gasmobiles, BEVs will already have made gasmobiles obsolete.

      1. Paul Smith says:

        How much energy and and fossil fuels are used to grow and process the biomass to produce the biofuels?

    3. scott franco says:

      “PowerCell Sweden has developed a Fuel Cell that uses Hydrogen ‘reformed’ from any Hydrocarbon fuel including Diesel.”

      Look at any Popular Science mag since 1980s. The promise of “fuel cells feeding from reformed regular gas” was the holy grail of FCV research for decades. FCVs didn’t come out because that happened. They came out because they gave up on the technology and went with reforming NG at a central location.

      Please do some reading and stop beating dead horses.

  3. mx says:

    It’s long past due that California CARB STOP funding this hoax.

    1. scott franco says:

      Watch “who killed the electric car”. CARB is a rotating gallery of special political interests that has done more odd things than Bill Clinton alone in a Miami strip club.

      If you have cash, perhaps you, too, can have your way with them.

      1. scott says:

        Roy Moore, Donald Trump,and Jeffrey Epstein walk into a Junior High School. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

  4. Assaf says:

    Hahaha, as the times change, so does the music…

    “We don’t really see an adversary ‘zero-sum’ relationship between the EV (electric vehicle) and the hydrogen car.”

    Which is apparently why your leadership (till <1 year ago?) kept dissing the EV and shut down the Rav4EV despite demand far outsripping production…

    …and also why your advertising dept. produced many ads directly making fun of the very concept of BEVs.

    Well, apparently you've lost the war, so now you're preaching a truce. Sounds good to me, except for the accountability and owning up part. *And* the actually making BEVs again part.

    ps: I agree that FC technology is part of the solution, specifically with FC-PHEVs that can also plug in (and which Toyota *still* does't make AFAIK). But it's very unlikely many will be needed in the ordinary passenger-car segments. Trucks/vans are a different story.

    1. SparkEV says:

      I’m not sure if it’s changing the tune. Any engineer could run simple calculations to show that H makes no sense compared to gassers as it’s currently being done, never mind the plug-ins. I suspect he always knew, but couldn’t voice it until now for whatever reason, probably the Japanese corporate culture of conformity.

    2. wavelet says:

      No, FCEVs (whether plug-in or not) aren’t and can never be part of the solution, because of basic physics and basic economics, PERIOD.

      1) Hydrogen is not present in free form on planet Earth.

      2) Any method of obtaining hydrogen requires breaking down some molecule with H atoms. Most common one is water.
      Any process to free the H atoms takes more energy than can be stored in the H afterwards, theoretically by 30% or more (in practice, more).

      3) Some people think, “but if at some point we’ll achieve free/very cheap (renewable) energy, wasting some won’t matter”
      WRONG. No matter how cheap it’ll get, it’ll _always_ be cheaper by those 30% (at least) to use that energy directly to place it in a battery (or even for pumped hydro storage).
      Oh, and today it’s not 30%: It’s 3x-5x the energy.

      Let’s forget the energy physics for now.
      4) Safety: H molecules are tiny (smallest possible molecule), so they diffuse through virtually anything. H ignites easily (fires are completely colorless), and then explodes (remember the Hindenburg). It needs far higher pressures to transport in any volume-efficient manner than any fuel currently used.

      There isn’t an existing production or transportation network for H (existing industrial/science uses are miniscule).

      5) If production is centralized, you need solutions to transport it. That means either pipelines, tankers (road and/or ship) or a combo.
      There is no distribution network on the planet for any material remotely like hydrogen, within orders of magnitude of the scale that would be needed for transportation.
      Noone knows how long it would take to develop the design for it, if it’s at all feasible, or how much the R&D would cost.
      It could easily take decades and many 10$Bs — just for the design, not implementation.

      The actual risks are unknown — if doing this by road tanker, what would those tankers need to look like? Existing natural-gas or oil pipelines wouldn’t work, for many reasons.
      What about accidents? Either tankers or pipelines, good luck handling the NIMBY.

      It’s anyone’s guess what the ultimate cost of actually building this out would be (I suspect trillions), or how long. I can easily see it taking 50+ years to achieve as widespread a network as gasoline has (which is far less than electricity, BTW), and I am not being hyperbolic.
      In contrast, the design for the “refueling” infrastructure for EVs is not only fully understood & designed, it’s actually mostly already implemented: Most miles driven overall are for daily local trips.
      In the USA, for that, either an existing residential outlet, or a $500 EVSE, which would provide 80mi’s worth of driving over 4 hours, are enough.
      The not-yet-fully-implemented part is destination charging and DC charging for LD trips: The design & risks are fully understood, the costs, risks and safety issues are known (and reasonable), and actual implementation is under way (and at least in the developed world, looks to be mostly done in ~7-10 years).

      6) If H production is not centralized, every refilling station will need its own, quite expensive capital equipment.
      Say you wanted to recharge your car at a vacation cabin.
      What would a solution for that look like for a FCEV?
      The Mirai reportedly does ~60mi on a kg of hydrogen (let’s sat that’s the distance from a cabin in boonies to nearest H station).
      1kG is ~12 cubic meters, so you’d need to run one of these LM-20000 units ( for 10 hours. Using up 120 litres of water and 100kWh of electricity. And the unit costs $85K.
      Sure, it’ll go down in time… The water usage won’t, and compare even the price of current solar/wind panels for the cabin (which can also be used for general-purpose electricity in the cabin, with a little storage), which will go down in time.

      5) FCEV cars aren’t yet in real production (no matter what Toyota calls the handbuilt Mirai), and noone’s working on actual commercializing (as opposed to pilot concepts or compliance vehicles). Even if multi-$B production car development projects were to start tomorrow, they would bear fruit in, say, 10 years, and still be 20 years behind BEV development.

      6) The single advantage of H for cars is refueling speed. People will get used to charging BEVs nightly… Like they did for smartphones vs. previous feature phones the battery of which lasted a week. And for 200-250mi BEVs, breaking the trip every 3-4 hours won’t be a big deal. Most families already do it anyway.

      7) All that said, there might be specific niche cases where H makes sense. But not as a general solution.

      So why is anyone supporting FCEVs? Pretty much, they’re either completely ignorant or scammers.

      As for Toyota and the Japanese government, So why is Toyota doing this?
      The only explanation I can think of is that they are indeed committing Sepukku for cultural reasons, just like the WW-2 Kamikaze pilots (when the project started, it was absolutely clear that Japan would be invaded & lose the war, so it would have no strategic advantage).

      An ignorant government committee identified FCEVs area as a research field foreign companies were not actively pursuing, and directed R&D budgets to commercialize the area. Everyone else is being loyal.

      1. Counterpoint says:

        That may be the best response I’ve ever read on this website. Very well reasoned and conclusive argument!

        1. orinoco says:

          I wrote a similar one more than a year ago

          unfortunately in German 😉

          Another important reason for Toyota et al pursuing FCVs: they keep the customer dependent on the manufacturer and the gas stations. Try to refill a FCV at home! FCVs need much costly service.

      2. sola says:

        Very good points. I have no idea why Toyota is sticking with this nonsense.

        I have already decided that my next car will not be a Toyota after the Prius. I will not support a company that is a laggard with EVs and spews nonsensical bulls*** about EVs and FCVs.

      3. TJ Samuels says:

        quote:”So why is anyone supporting FCEVs? Pretty much, they’re either completely ignorant or scammers.”

        So you’re calling Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes ignorant or scammers. LMAO

        Yet you have the time to bang away on a keyboard to post on a somewhat obscure website. What do you do for a living, besides imagining you know something about transport? Toyota spent almost $9 BILLION (with a B) dollars on Research and Development alone in 2016. Think about that.

        The hate for electric vehicles powered by fuel cells is irrational and ignorant and you’ll see that is true as time goes on.

        Newsflash: SAIC in China has just begun to produce a fuel cell vehicle and Shanghai has just been designated as the Chinese National Center for Hydrogen Fuel Cell development. China also has just begun mass production of fuel cells, destroying the talking point that they will never be mass produced.

        H2 is the future and no one can stop it, not even clowns pretending to be smart on the net.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          TJ Samuels said:
          “Yet you have the time to bang away on a keyboard to post on a somewhat obscure website. What do you do…”

          4,832,528 unique readers (not clicks/PVs), largest site dedicated to just global plug-in news on the internet (no hybrid, eco-engine nonsense)

          /just saying

          1. Get Real says:

            Another shill for H2 I would imagine.

            Look, I have nothing against UNSUBSIDIZED H2 as a way to store energy from RE and for stationary power sources and maybe even ships it might make sense but it has no hope competing against BEVs or PHEVs for light-medium duty vehicles unless its heavily subsidized which is what is going on.

            All automotive companies (that want to survive) either are (or will) start to pivot resources away from fool cells to BEV/PHEV research and platforms.

            If the oil companies want to start building out unsubsidized by the taxpayers H2 infrastructure I would applaud that as it will hasten their bankruptcies based on stranded assets.

            I think it is very telling that they are NOT really putting their own money into H2 infrastructure

        2. Mil says:

          H2 is a non-starter. Just look at Toyota’s view on it. First they said they’re only interested in H2. Then they changed to say they need to look at battery as well as H2. Now their own chief engineer is agreeing with Musk and saying it’s better to charge a car by plugging in. Toyota will burn through a ton more cash but they’ll soon learn that it’s just not viable. You can’t argue with physics. It’s a shame that a multi-billion dollar company can’t see this when even school kids can.

          Just because a company has revenue of billions (“with a B”), does not mean they are right. Plenty of companies worth just as much had made mistakes and are no longer relevant. Nokia, Polaroid, Xerox, Palm…these were all titan companies in their respective fields and dominated those areas, but they are now irrelevant or near irrelevant as they failed to make smart decisions.

          The same is true for car manufacturers who do not progress on battery technology fast enough. Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Fiat. They will all become irrelevant unless they make drastic changes to their strategy. The sad thing is, Toyota had an almost 15 year head start with their hybrid technology but they’ve wasted this all away pursuing H2 nonsense. Competition has now overtaken them and they will soon realise their mistake.

          1. It would seem that Toyota is maybe wishing they never sold the NUMI Facility in Fremont to Tesla, which helped Tesla get the Spaced and facility needed to start the Model S!

            Toyota could have continued to work with Tesla, expanded on the RAV4 EV, and opened it to other markets, and added another Variant – a Prius BEV! But – No! They Dropped the RAV4 EV, Sold out their investment in Tesla (for quite a Profit, I understand) and chased the Hydrogen Horse with all their might!

            Seems like they have begun to realize that horse is not the only one, if not the wrong one!

        3. mx says:

          H2 is a scam in that it promises an environmental benefit and doesn’t deliver, because it’s just a methane energy source with no benefit to Global Warming.

          And yes, this minuscule pilot project that, shock, isn’t getting off the ground, will be used to “prove” there’s NO MARKET for Green Cars. Like they’ve done before, many many times.

        4. wavelet says:

          Lets split that out, shall we?
          1) Honda is partially doing it for the same Japanese-cultural reasons Toyota is, but if you look closely, they’re not like Toyota. They’ve spent a lot less money on it overall. They aren’t doing, and haven’t announced, any production-like effort. The Clarity is a US compliance play (like the (BEV/PHEV Clarity). Ditto for a GM cooperative research venture.

          2) Hyundai has only done FCEV conversions so far (Tucson FCEV, “selling” 500 units over 3 years, (available only for lease)), and has some prototypes in development. Again, no actual production effort. Compare to their considerable investment in PHEVs and BEVs (together with sister company Kia) intended for production.

          3) Daimler have been very careful, doing only concepts & pilots so far, again, no actual production cars.

          4) The Chinese government mandates are ignorant government committees. They figure if Japan & California do it, it must be right.

          I stand behind everything I’ve written

      4. zzzzzzzzzz says:


        It is just the same old talking points from last decade, either hopelessly obsolete or that never were true, like no hydrogen pipelines.

        The main point that changed in recent years is the cost of energy. Intermittent energy from PV or wind is in 2-4 cents/kWh range depending on location, and is going down. It invalidates all the talk about “precious” energy and last efficiency percent you must squeeze out no matter what. Your battery may cost much more then the energy it will ever be able to store in its useful lifetime if you use it in wrong way.

        1. SparkEV says:

          2-4 cents, eh? Then some enterprising company will advertise “if you plug in when we want you to plug in, we will bill you only 6 cents per kWh”. Knowing people drive half way across town to get $0.01/gal cheaper gas, this will effectively solve excess cheap electricity “problem”.

          Despite what you think, entropy will find ways to use that excess solar much more effectively than throwing away over 50% of it via H in cars.

        2. Djoni says:

          Cost for energy is going down and it does provide more and more opportunity.

          But to say that because it’s cheaper, provider, wholeseller and consumer wouldn’t care to pay 30% more for the same convenience don’t make sense.

          Basic economic.

          BTW, I’m not saying that fuel cell technology won’t find it’s use somewhere but it won’t be in small or relatively small EV.

          Better use it for far away storage.

      5. Carsonight says:

        Excellent response, thoughtful and well-reasoned. I can only join in the applause for that, and book-mark it.

      6. Ejo says:

        Thank you for that comment, fascinating!

    3. Per: “Which is apparently why your leadership (till <1 year ago?) kept dissing the EV and shut down the RAV4 EV despite demand far outstripping production…" And – I might Add, REFUSED to sell them in Ontario, Canada, Where they were Finally Assembled, with the Tesla Drivetrain Shipped up from California!

      Toyota Canada, had two of them, I guess for testing, and my Toyota Rep got them to let him bring one to Exhibit at EV Fest 2012, along with the Prius PHV, but when people found they could only buy the ~11 Mile Range Prius PHV, but NOT the 100 Mile+ RAV4 EV, they were all over him, angry!

      He was quite upset, and said to me, that "Your Guests were Angry at me!" as if having at EV at an EV Show that People Would Never be Able to Buy, was going to be an easy thing to explain! Unfortunately, given his position, he was between a Rock and a Hard Place!

  5. mx says:

    Here’s CARB’s contact page:

    I can’t pick out which would be the best contact about getting CARB to drop Hydrogen/Methane.

    Possibly the Office of Communications?

    1. William says:

      CARB with drop the FC Hydrogen/Methane ball, when Chevron starts holding onto it, while looking to throw downfield for an open receiver.

      Until then, it is pretty much business as usual, with the good money following after the bad scenario, playing it’s dire Corporate Oil melodies.

  6. Euro point of view says:

    The figures are not so bad for the Mirai , with a so poor number of hydrogen stations . 200 units sold in October .

  7. George says:

    Wake me up when these guys come up with energy/efficiency/packaging/geometry/propulsion which actually makes sense and the car is not ugly like hell… until then I’m not spending even a penny…

  8. Bill Howland says:

    I will most likely never buy a hydrogen fueled vehicle (If I can help it), but I’m not as negative as this guy. Perhaps this guy can help throttle back GM’s H2 plans, if not his own Toyota’s.

    If H2 is so horrible, why did the Great State of California incentivize it at MORE THAN TWICE the rate of pure evs?

    The economics of hydrogen could have been improved by the building of more Gen 3+ Nuclear Stations, but since there is a big question as to safety and cost with those things, I’m not heavily encouraging that for a solution to free hydrogen.

    The biggest problem currently with H2 as I see it is the Dispensing Stations require over 600 hp for compression for a small station. Then add the refrigeration horsepower required.

    If you started out with nothing, a case may have been made for H2, – but these H2 cars will compete with existing Ev’s and Ice’s. I don’t see how, in the states at least, the fuel, dispensing, and maintenance costs (which are considerable of the 15,000 psi dispensing station not to mention the EXPLOSION risk).

    I’m not saying H2 per se is dangerous (probably analogus to gasoline), but the high pressures the dispensing apparatus works at will make equipment explosions a very dangerous thing.

    So I see H2 as a solution for those locales with extremely limited spare electricity, and/or where factories manufacture H2 as an unusable byproduct which could be easily pipelined to an H2 station.

    I DON’T see it as being practical in the vast majority of the states, nor price competitive with our 2 existing fuels : gas/diesel and BEV’s.

    1. Ambulator says:

      If H2 is so horrible, why did the Great State of California incentivize it at MORE THAN TWICE the rate of pure evs?

      At the time, hydrogen was considered at a lower state of development, so additional incentives were needed to get it started. It wasn’t yet clear that BEVs would work out, so keeping another technology viable made some sense, at least to politicians.

      Of course, that was the past. It’s long past the time to shutter hydrogen.

    2. sola says:

      I think handling H2 is way-way more dangerous than gasoline.

      The flame of H2 is invisible while burning gasoline is completely detectable by humans.

      Gasoline leaks can be easily detected via smelling and seeing the spilled gasoline while H2 leaks are impossible to detect by human senses.

      Gasoline is not very corrosive so we have cheap and long-lasting materials to handle it. H2 embrittles metals and requires special materials and huge pressures to be contained.

      1. TJ Samuels says:

        quote:”I think handling H2 is way-way more dangerous than gasoline.”

        You clearly haven’t done any actual research into the matter. Did you just pull this out of thin air or did someone tell you this?

        If you had done any independent research you might have come across this article: Hydrogen Car Fire Surprise

        Video documents results of hydrogen and gasoline car fires. As the photos below clearly demonstrate, consumer fears about hydrogen as a transportation fuel would seem to be pretty much unfounded…more

        1. Carsonight says:

          The gasoline car had a 1/16 inch hole in a fuel line, while the hydrogen car had a “leaky connector”. How are the two remotely the same? What if we were to create a 1/16 inch hole in the hydrogen tank and a leaky connector in the gasoline car?

      2. mx says:

        Yes, an invisible leak is extremely dangerous, especially for your smoking mechanics.

        This is a one mistake and you’re done, along with the city block the hydrogen station is located at.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Bill Howland asked:

      “If H2 is so horrible, why did the Great State of California incentivize it at MORE THAN TWICE the rate of pure evs?”

      Because Big Oil propaganda and lobbying have been very successful at making “useful idiots” out of “green” activists and California politicians sympathetic to the “green” agenda.

      Just look at all the greenwashing propaganda coming from the California Fuel Cell partnership, which is funded at least in part by Big Oil & Gas companies! That propaganda is often cited by “fuel cell” fanboys posting comments to InsideEVs.

      1. Don Zenga says:


        The whole reason Big Oil supports Hydrogen is not to promote FCVs, but just enough to distract BEVs and once BEVs die, they will kill the FCVs as well.

        But they are on the losing side. Last month, 91000 plugins were sold in China and which is nearly 13000 more than the 78000 plugins sold in the month prior.

        Still we cannot presume that ICEs will die as Aramco prepares for $100 IPO which will help them buy many refineries the World over and sell the motor fuels directly to the motorists. So there is a long road ahead.

        1. William says:

          Aramco has an upcoming IPO offering of only 5% of their proven oil/gas reserves. The Monarchy and Kingdom will be holding onto the other 95% for their own sovereign “WELL” being.

  9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Watching someone at Toyota try to defend the company’s decision to keep making fool cell cars is a study in fine gradations of mendacity.

    Reality check: The only reason Toyota (and Honda) are making and selling fool cell cars, even on the small scale they are, is the insanely high level of subsidies provided by the Japanese national and prefecture governments; reportedly, up to nearly $20,000.

    1. TJ Samuels says:

      Any guess as to why Mercedes has just released a plug in fuel cell vehicle and says that fuel cells are an integral part of their future?

      Who cares what you think anyway, you’ve convinced yourself that you are actually some kind of automotive genius. It’s hilarious.

      1. William says:

        The Dalimer/Mercedes fuel cell-plug in vehicle, that appears to be the future of transport, may be warranted. However, Pushi among others, has many Fool Cell arguments that are relevant and based on real hard facts, that make a pure battery EV, an environmentally conscious “automotive genius” first choice.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “Who cares what you think anyway, you’ve convinced yourself that you are actually some kind of automotive genius. It’s hilarious.”

        😆 😆 😆

        It’s amusing how predictably shills and trolls get all flustered and threatened by someone who actually understands the fundamentals of science, and is able to point out the numerous errors and fallacies (both of logic and of science) in posts by fool cell fanboys and other shills for Big Oil.

        I don’t need to be either a genius, nor an expert in the subject, to understand that basic physics and thermodynamics, as well as the physical properties of the hydrogen molecule, will forever prevent compressed hydrogen from being a practical fuel for transportation. I just need to know enough to see through your lies and FUD, which isn’t all that hard.

        And not even an infinite number of insults from an obnoxious Big Oil shilling troll like you is going to change the reality of physics or thermodynamics, or change the reality that dispensing compressed hydrogen as fuel will always be too expensive to compete with gasoline or any other practical fuel, even if that fuel is one day fully synthetic and carbon-neutral.

      3. skierpage says:

        Ah yes, “With our GLC F-Cell preproduction model we present a world first in which a fuel-cell-operated electric car uses a lithium-ion battery as an additional energy source that can be externally charged by means of plug-in technology.”
        Note 1, “pre-production”, we’ll see if it ever goes on sale. Note 2, it’s a plug-in hybrid. In theory that makes sense, combining the virtues of full cheap battery charging for daily driving and the fast refuel of H2 on long trips. But it decimates the market for H2 refuelling, and there are very few rich environmentalists who would buy this over a conventional plug-in hybrid that you can refuel at tens of thousands of gas stations.

    2. Don Zenga says:

      How about a FCV with battery for 30 mile range. So every day, someone will drive 30 miles every day on battery power and then for the long range drive, they can use Hydrogen.

      Both Electric and Hydrogen wins. After all, motor and the power train are common for both energy sources.

      1. William says:

        Mercedes 2019 GLC F-Cell is what you are referring to. 30 mile battery only range is a start, if your commute is on the short side, and you can’t charge at your destination.

        1. Carsonight says:

          That car will likely be limited to Europe, where I understand the government is actually supporting fuel cells. I see very limited utility for it in the United States outside of California.

  10. Get Real says:

    Also telling is how Toyota employee (probably in their fool cell program) and long-time serial anti-Tesla troll and fool cell shill here zzzzz is silent on this thread.

    Maybe is busy applying to another division at Toyota?

    1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      Get Real, you sound like a sick person with nothing good in your life left.

      1. Get Real says:

        Not at all troll, i just call them like I see them.

        I’m happily married with 3 wonderful children and retired (with my mind and body still intact) from 30 years in the US Army Infantry and looking forward to our future where are warriors no longer having to die protecting fossil fuels and all our children not being exposed to pollution from such.

        Nowadays I spend some of my time helping my Army buddies, friends and neighbors self-install their own solar pv systems after having done my own.

  11. Fearnsy says:

    If I had a Mirai I would have to drive 49 miles to fuel it.

    1. mx says:

      And that’s a 2 way trip, along with a 10 minute refuel stop.
      So: 50 + 10 + 50: 110 minutes to refuel.
      Along with the range you lose just driving home.

  12. Craig M says:

    Hydrogen as a fuel is very important to our future. Once we have many humans operating in space, this will be the main energy source. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. I don’t believe that Toyota is against electric and only for hydrogen. I think the do subsidized hydrogen research and sell hybrid and phev at a profit. Hydrogen can be generated and stored at home with renewables. Most developed nations are spending government money on hydrogen research. New dollars are released each year.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe.”

      Yeah, too bad it’s so reactive with so many other elements that it’s almost nonexistent outside of compounds here on earth; so low in energy per cubic foot/meter; so hard to store without significant leakage; and so hard to handle when it’s compressed sufficiently to be useful as a fuel. All that makes it very expensive by the time it’s dispensed into a fool cell car.

      It’s also why storing and dispensing it is so expensive, between the necessary high-pressure pumps, special seals, and the need to replace all metal tanks and pipes used to store or carry it, every decade or so.

      Trying to collect and store it in outer space wouldn’t be easy or cheap, either… at least not without near-magical technology.

    2. mx says:

      It might be useful on a planet with a lot of water.
      You could use solar energy to split water and create an oxygen supply along with a hydrogen fuel. I’m not sure the moon or mars have so much excess water you’d want to do that at scale.

  13. Don Zenga says:

    The primary objective of an electric vehicle is to charge it slowly over a 8-12 hour period in our home without putting any stress on the grid and also ensuring that power plants utilization is steady.

    As for fast charging, you don’t need to charge it to 100% and sometimes 10 minute fast charge will give us 100 mile range which is good enough to reach the destination.

    BTW, Tesla has covered the entire USA and southern Canada with charging network and soon Europe and Japan will be covered.

    And while all the talk is about Tesla, soon the Leaf (#1 in sales) will have its sales increase rapidly with a much higher range newer model which will make more highway drives.

    1. William says:

      The Leaf as the #1 in the overall sales leadership position, may be eclipsed by the Tesla Model 3 in late 2018, in North America. It’s a big “IF”, if Tesla can do what it has set out to accomplish, with its ramp up to volume production.

      2018 should be a roller coaster ride, to see if Nissan can remain the low price-EV volume leader in N.A.

  14. Thomas Hager says:

    Very interesting discussion here. I’m a science historian with a side interest in the future of electricity, and I happily drive a PHEV. I also believe that hydrogen is going to be an increasingly important part of our energy future.

    This is a much bigger issue that FCEVs alone. It has to do with our entire electrical grid.

    Decarbonizing our energy system requires successful integration of intermittent renewables — so that, for instance, excess solar energy produced at noon, instead of being wasted or throwing off the supply/demand balance, is available after dark. To do that we’d need either a worldwide “super-grid” to move electricity immediately from the light side of the world to the dark, or a way to efficiently harvest excess noontime energy and store it for a few hours or a few months (seasonal changes). Hydrogen lends itself to this sort of LARGE-SCALE storage; batteries don’t. Hydrogen can be shipped from places where renewable energy is most efficiently gathered (say a desert in South America) to cities that have less land to devote to solar panels (say, Tokyo). Yes, there is an energy penalty for turning solar or wind electricity into hydrogen, but it’s worth it when those sources are producing too much to use at the moment. Hydrogen production via electrolysis not only helps even out grid supply/demand, but is really, really clean. I hope hydrogen skeptics study what Japan is doing to shift the nation over to hydrogen power — including improved systems for large-scale storage and transport — to understand why Toyota is doing what it’s doing — the company is playing the long game.

    1. Carsonight says:

      Here is an article from Forbes about a different means for industrial/grid-level storage of electricity, that’s available now, relatively inexpensive , and apparently does not have the downsides of hydrogen:

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “I’m a science historian with a side interest in the future of electricity…”

      Then you probably would enjoy reading articles written by the scientifically literate explaining why you and I will never drive a FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle). And our kids and grandkids won’t, either.

      1. Thomas Hager says:

        Thanks. These articles are both about a decade old. Today’s much lower solar generation costs are pushing the equation toward hydrogen production. Again, this is about something bigger than FCEVs alone. The impetus for a hydrogen infrastructure will come from the need for grid stability and decarbonization. If I have time tomorrow I’ll add some more recent links for you.

        1. Ambulator says:

          Yes, hydrogen is one way to get through the winter months on solar. I think that nuclear is a much better option, but here is not the place to discuss it.

        2. skierpage says:

          “Much lower solar generation costs” push the adoption of EVs by lowering their cost to recharge. HFCV remains the higher cost, less appealing option. There are many more places to recharge then to refuel.

        3. BenG says:

          There might come a day where electrolyzing water to hydrogen becomes a cost effective means of using intermittent renewable electricity that would otherwise go to waste, but I’m skeptical. I think there will most alway be other more efficient ways to use the electricity.

          If most cars and short-distance trucks are battery powered, it’s easy to imagine a big demand response to either abundant or scarce electrical supply. I.e. if electricity is usually 20 cents per kilowatt, but the sun is shining and the wind is blowing hard so there’s excess power, maybe the retail price drops to 10 cents per kilowatt and that causes a surge in demand to match supply.

          Likewise if electricity is scarce, many people could delay filling their cars for another day, or only do a partial fill-up.

          There are lots of other ways to use excess electricity, or to flexibly curtail demand, without having to waste so much energy with the round-trip to hydrogen.

    3. SparkEV says:

      “Hydrogen lends itself to this sort of LARGE-SCALE storage”

      You do realize that making, storing, transporting H loses over 50% of the energy. Then the FCEV loses over 50% of that, making the total to be less than 25%.

      Batteries are better, but expensive. Second option might be to put all the old lead acid batteries in electric train, and have it climb the Rocky mountains with excess solar. Then when the demand is high, train comes down the track and generate electricity via regen braking. This solves lead problem and electricity storage problem.

  15. Markh21518 says:

    The Bolt is here now with the same amount of range and half the cost so where is the advantage? If too many users use H2 the stations can’t keep up and then the fill ups are like 20-30 min. Same as DCFC plus you can’t leave the car!

    1. SparkEV says:

      H won’t take off, so there’s no worry of it taking 25-30 min. In a hypothetical world where H is the only option (no ICE, BEV), they would put in more stations to meet the demand, so they would never have such long waits.

  16. Martin T. says:

    At last Toyota see’s the light (Sort of)… It’s hard to put the big White ELEPHANT of FCV back into the closet when your company has invested too many $$$ into a inefficient cumbersome and complicated technology. Lets hope is on the right track this time with some class leading batteries to save themselves from the FCV “Embarrassment”
    I believe they can do it with good direction from some of their leaders! They would also do well to hire class leading designers from the West as Japanese buyers do find the “European” look very desirable. The cars would then be pleasing to the eye world wide. One other thing they need to back off a tad on the under steer steering setup – see Mazda partner for help – or bench mark class leaders as well for a more enjoyable fun drive.

  17. Dave86 says:

    I seriously wonder how many of the pro fuel cell crowd has actually engineered a product and seen it to production.

    Big difference between thinking you know the laws of physics and actually making a living from your knowledge of the laws of physics.

  18. PHEVfan says:

    FCEV – The new “compliance car”. Sheesh!

  19. Brave Lil' Toaster says:

    “The automaker believes that even though EVs are better, there’s still a place in the market for FCVs.”

    This is called “denial”. As in, “we spent so much on developing this thing! It’s *gotta* work!”

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