Toyota Motor Corp. announced recently its plans to introduce its first hydrogen-powered car, saying it now would begin selling a sedan in less than a year at a price of about $70,000.

Toyota had previously said it would roll out the car in 2015 at a price of up to $100,000.

On June 25, the automaker also announced that sales in Japan would begin by March 2015 as the Japanese government seeks to boost the economy through the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

14 June Toyota Unveils First Fuel Cell Vehicle

Toyota staged their new fuel cell vehicle North American debut at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June 2014. Credit: Toyota Motor Corp.

Two days later, Toyota staged the car’s North American debut at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival. It will be available for sale to customers in California in the summer of 2015.

Toyota executives acknowledge that significant hurdles need to be cleared before fuel cell vehicles become a viable option for mass-market consumers.

For now, there are only a handful of refueling stations, in places like Japan and California. But Toyota hopes that by making a strong statement of support for the fledgling technology it can help stimulate development.

To try to speed up the introduction of fuel cell cars, the Japanese government has pledged about $70 million in subsidies for the installation of 100 hydrogen refueling stations across Japan by the end of next year. California has a similar subsidy program to build hydrogen fueling stations.

Without easier access to hydrogen, consumers are unlikely to buy such vehicles, officials acknowledge. But knowing that the cars are coming could create support for building the refueling stations, they add.

“It’s not a question of the chicken or the egg first,” said Chihiro Tobe, director of the hydrogen and fuel cell promotion office of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. “They both have to move in tandem.”

Share this: