Toyota has managed to cut the cost of making a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by 90% in the past five years. “Our target is, we don’t lose money with introduction of the vehicle,” said Yoshihiko Masuda, Toyota’s managing director for advanced autos. In result the automaker plans to offer a $50,000 hydrogen-powered vehicle by 2015.

The hydrogen announcement from Toyota, which has had a nearly singular focus on hybrids, is the latest move in a high-stakes chess game regarding green auto technology.

Toyota  has cut hydrogen fuel cell costs by reducing platinum use to about one-third the previous level and finding cheaper ways to produce the thin film used in the fuel cells and the carbon-fiber hydrogen fuel tanks.

Some experts point to range and efficiency advantages that fuel cell cars have over gasoline or battery-powered vehicles. Nonetheless, high costs and lack of hydrogen refueling infrastructure remain major obstacles to affordable and practical fuel cell cars.

The battle for dominance regarding whiz-bang energy-efficient auto technology is getting more complicated everyday. At this point—at least while gasoline is still relatively cheap—it’s less about selling a lot of cars or profitability, and more about public perception.