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Toyota to Set Up Facility to Mass Produce Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Stacks

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【Summary】Toyota Motor Corp said it plans to set up a facility to mass produce hydrogen fuel cell stacks, a key component of fuel cell vehicles, as it seeks to ramp up production of zero-emission, hydrogen-powered cars.

Jacky Ho    May 24, 2018 1:53 PM PT
Toyota to Set Up Facility to Mass Produce Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Stacks

TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp said it plans to set up a facility to mass produce hydrogen fuel cell stacks, a key component of fuel cell vehicles, as it seeks to ramp up production of zero-emission, hydrogen-powered cars.

The new facility will be set up at Toyota's Honsha plant in Toyota City near the automaker's global headquarters, the company said in a statement. It is also constructing a dedicated line at the nearby Shimoyama plant to produce the tanks used for storing the high-pressure hydrogen gas inside vehicles.

Mass manufacturing of the two components - hydrogen fuel cell stacks and hydrogen tanks - will enable Toyota to lower the price of FCEVs, and expand its fuel cell technology.

Fuel cell vehicles are a zero-emissions alternative to gasoline powered vehicles. The vehicles use hydrogen gas instead of a battery to power an electric motor. Hydrogen and oxygen are used to produce the electricity. The hydrogen is stored in tanks mounted under the vehicle's floor or trunk space.

Apart from zero-emissions and longer range, one of the main benefits to fuel-cell technology is faster recharging compared to battery-powered vehicles, which can take up to eight hours to fully recharge. Fuel-cell vehicles can be recharged in less than ten minutes.

Toyota declined to give details about their latest investment in this technology, but said mass production of components will begin around 2020, enabling the company to meet its target for global annual fuel cell vehicle sales of more than 30,000 units, including passenger cars and buses.

"As a technology, fuel cells are mature and ready to scale up," Toyota said in a statement. "In order to encourage more widespread use of hydrogen-powered zero-emission vehicles, popularization needs to start by the 2020s."

Toyota already sells the Mirai sedan, the world's first mass-market fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), in Japan, in the United States and also some European countries. The model starts at about 7.2 million yen ($65,807.51) in the Japan market.

Due to its high cost and complexity of building its components, the Mirai is production is limited. About 5,300 units have been sold since its 2014 launch, a fraction of regular production models.

Toyota is not alone in its endeavor. Honda and Hyundai also manufacture fuel cell vehicles. The Honda Clarity fuel cell vehicle is currently available to lease in California. The 2019 Hyundai Nexo dedicated fuel-cell SUV is expected to be available for lease by drivers in limited regions of California by the end of this year.

The state of California is working with industry partners on hydrogen refueling stations. The California Fuel Cell Partnership is an industry & government collaboration aimed at expanding the market for fuel cell electric vehicles powered by hydrogen. California now has 34 hydrogen filling stations open in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, with many more planned.

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