Toyota Establishes a New Hydrogen Fuel Cell Joint Venture with Chinese Auto Firms
【Summary】Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp is doubling down on its commitment to the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The automakers announced a new venture on Friday with Chinese automakers FAW Group, Dongfeng Motor, Beijing Automotive, GAC and hydrogen fuel cell developer Beijing SinoHytec. The joint venture will primarily focus on the development of fuel cell systems for commercial vehicles in China.
Japan's Toyota Motor Corp is doubling down on its commitment to the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The automakers announced a new venture on Friday with Chinese automakers FAW Group, Dongfeng Motor, Beijing Automotive, GAC and hydrogen fuel cell developer Beijing SinoHytec.
The joint venture is named United Fuel Cell System R&D (Beijing) Co., Ltd. (FCRD). FCRD's primary business will be the development of fuel cell systems for commercial vehicles in China.
Each company, including Toyota Motor Corporation and Beijing SinoHytec Co., Ltd. will invest in the joint venture. The joint venue will focus on the development of low-cost, competitive fuel cell systems and related components required for the widespread adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) for commercial applications.
The total investment from Toyota will be about 5.02 billion yen ($46 million). The company said in a statement that it will hold a 65% share of the new joint venture.
"FCRD is a company that holds tremendous significance for Toyota's global fuel cell strategies. There is no other automobile market with such a sense of speed, and I am extremely confident that we will gain partners we can work with toward the shared target of expanding the use of FCEVs in China," said Shigeki Terashi, Operating Officer of Toyota.
Instead of relying on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack to power electric motors, FCEVs combine hydrogen in a fuel cell to produce electricity. The hydrogen travels to the fuel cell stack where it goes through a chemical reaction with oxygen in the air, creating electricity.
The electricity produced in the fuel cell is used to power the vehicle's electric motor(s). Hydrogen-powered vehicles produce zero emissions—the only byproduct of the process is water.
In accordance with the 2016 Technology Roadmap for Energy-Saving and New Energy Vehicles announced by China, the government wants to register 50,000 new FCEVs for public transit by 2025 and up to 1 million FCEVs for public transit, commercial transportation and private use by 2030.
"FAW seeks to advance fuel cell technologies and collaborate with partners that share its vision to create win-win relationships with all stakeholders in accordance with the principle of making maximum efforts to preserve the global environment," said Vice President of FAW, Wang Guoqiang.
The FCEV market in China, primarily for commercial vehicles, is growing at a pace not seen anywhere else in the world, Toyota said.
As most global automakers focus on electrification of their model lineups, Toyota has never fully abandoned its fuel cell plans for passenger vehicles. The company has been working on fuel cell technology since the 1990s. Toyota's hydrogen-powered Mirai was released in 2014.
South Koren automaker Hyundai also introduced a fuel cell vehicle called the NEXO which went on sale in 2019, Hyundai said its the world's first fuel cell SUV. Toyota rival Honda Motor Co also offers a fuel cell version of its Clarity sedan.
In January, Toyota unveiled the second generation Mirai sedan, which includes technical design improvements. The redesigned Mirai was first shown as a concept vehicle at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.
With the launch of the redesigned Mirai, Toyota is also supporting the development of hydrogen fuel infrastructure in major metropolitan areas worldwide, so drivers can refill their FCEVs just as easily as drivers of gas-powered vehicles.
However, there are not many places for drivers of passenger vehicles to fill up with hydrogen currently, with the exception of California, where hydrogen filling stations are slowly being added to existing gas stations. Honda leases the Clarity fuel cell sedan only to drivers living near hydrogen filling stations.
Many industry analysts believe that FCEVs are better suited for commercial vehicles such as long-haul trucks, as the larger vehicles can store more hydrogen onboard and the hydrogen fill stations can be more easily installed along busy highway corridors.
Last Summer, China opened the world's largest hydrogen filling station in Shanghai. The station is the largest hydrogen fueling station in the world with enough capacity to refill 600 fuel cell cars per day.
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