Toyota announced at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday January 10, 2011 that it plans to begin public sales of an “affordable,” highly fuel-efficient hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle in the United States by 2015 – or sooner, if refueling infrastructure becomes available.

“We plan to come to market in 2015, or earlier, with a vehicle that will be reliable and durable, with exceptional fuel economy and zero emissions, at an affordable price,” said Irv Miller, Toyota North America spokesman, at a press conference at the North American International Auto Show.

Toyota’s development of a fuel-cell vehicle has outpaced the means to refuel it, Mr. Miller added, “and building an extensive hydrogen refueling infrastructure is the critical next step.” Toyota previously announced plans, with the California Fuel Cell Partnership, to develop a network of at least 46 public refueling stations in four southern California communities in hopes of forming the nucleus of a refueling infrastructure.

American Honda is also a partner in the program. Since 2008, its FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle has been available in limited numbers for lease in the Los Angeles area, where about 16 refueling stations operate.

Toyota also announced Monday that it is starting a pilot program in California and New York to place in service “more than 100” Toyota fuel-cell hybrids, called the FCHV-advanced. The vehicles will find homes at universities, government agencies and private companies that are also working to advance fuel-cell technology and use.

Already, Toyota has 20 of its first-generation FCHVs, for which development began in 2002, in a similar program in California. The second-generation FCHV-adv was introduced in 2008. Toyota has reported rapid advancement in the car’s capabilities and says models in testing achieve fuel economy equivalent to 68 miles per gallon, and a range of 431 miles, on a single fill of compressed hydrogen gas.

Source:  New York Times