Toyota Investing Heavily in Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

Toyota has announced that it will build 12 new hydrogen refueling stations across the Northeast U.S. to support the release of its much-anticipated Mirai fuel cell vehicle.

The automaker plans to begin selling the Mirai in Europe and California beginning in early 2015.  The Mirai can reportedly travel up to 300 miles on a full tank of hydrogen, and refueling takes between three to five minutes.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda calls the impending launch of the Mirai “a turning point in automotive history. . . where people will embrace a new, environmentally friendly car that is a pleasure to drive.”

Toyota has already helped finance the construction a number of U.S. hydrogen refueling stations; primarily in Southern California, and now plans to partner with France’s Air Liquide on the construction of a dozen new facilities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

In a statement, Toyota Motor North America president Jim Lentz said, “Toyota’s vision of a hydrogen society is not just about building a great car, but ensuring accessible, reliable and convenient refueling for our customers. I am happy to announce that this vision will expand beyond the borders of California and give customers the opportunity to join the fuel cell movement.”

Advocates have long argued the environmental benefits of hydrogen fuel cells, and a number of automakers are exploring the feasibility of the technology, but the cost involved with building the needed infrastructure has hampered progress.

Last May Toyota announced plans to lend FirstElement Fuel Inc. $7.3 million for the construction of 19 hydrogen fuel cell refueling stations in California. The company also received $27.6 million in grant money from the California Energy Commission for the project.  The 19 stations are scheduled to be operational within the next year.

Toyoda says, “Our fuel cell vehicle runs on hydrogen that can be made from virtually anything, even garbage, It has a fuel cell that creates enough electricity to power a house for about a week. This is a car that lets you have it all with no compromises.”

Additional information about the Mirai’s pricing and projected sales volumes are scheduled to be released early this week.

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