Toyota’s answer to Tesla

The Toyota Mirai. (Photo: Toyota)
Elon Musk's Tesla dominates more than half of the electric car market in America, that being said, EV sales only represent 2 percent of the entire US auto market.اضافة اعلان

People in America, and indeed in the rest of the world, are not yet fully switching to electric cars, mainly due to the long time it takes to charge, not to mention the higher cost compared to a fuel-powered car.  

To put things into perspective. At a Tesla supercharging station, the average battery powered car takes about 15 minutes to charge to 30 to 50 percent capacity, and it takes more than an hour to fully charge. 

Other mainstream auto makers, like Toyota offer a more practical and time effective alternative, which is also equally environmentally: hydrogen. 

 In contrast, a hydrogen car tank can be refilled at a hydrogen station in just under five minutes, just like at a regular gas station.  The reason for this is that this type of car does not store electrical energy like a battery, but rather creates it on demand to start the engine. 

 As for range, hydrogen-powered cars once again take the lead. Of the three fuel cell cars on the market today, they have a range of 500, 550, and 600km, while most electric cars have a range of less than 400km.  Although some Tesla models offer ranges in excess of 500km, their prices often exceed the reach of most car buyers. 

Range and refueling are very important, which prompts a majority of automobile companies, in addition to Toyota, to believe that hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles will represent a paradigm shift in mobility using electric power, (Mercedes-Benz is one of them). 

But hydrogen-powered cars still have a long way to go before being considered a viable alternative to battery-powered cars. 

The higher cost of hydrogen cars is a major obstacle, the price of a hydrogen car today is about $60,000, which exceeds the price of the average electric vehicle by about $20,000. Also, the production volume of hydrogen cars is very limited and does not exceed a few thousand each year.

This is expected to change, as car manufacturers are looking to increase production of hydrogen cars. 

Toyota, a leader in hydrogen cars, has increased its production capacity tenfold, which ultimately reduced the cost of the Mirai, its first hydrogen-powered model sold in Japan and America, (mainly in the green state of California). 

The real challenge for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is the lack of adequate infrastructure.  In the United States, most hydrogen stations are located in California, with about 40 stations for hydrogen car owners. The lack of a wider network of hydrogen stations hinders the growth of hydrogen cars’ popularity in other states. 

In contrast, battery-powered cars are limited by the law of diminishing productivity, as increasing the range requires a larger battery, which will represent additional vehicle weight.

More hydrogen stations means more hydrogen cars that will be available at affordable prices.  Currently, the only obstacle for these cars is infrastructure, once this hurdle is overcome, Tesla and Co. will lose their place as the zero-emissions market leader.

Read more Drive Stories.