Toyota Motor Corporation have announced the successful completion of a 560 kilometre journey by an improved version of their FCHV Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle â€“ all on less than one tank of Hydrogen. It just goes to show that while they appear obsessed with petrol-electric hybrids Toyota have plans afoot to make the current Prius and itâ€™s ilk obsolete.
The trip from Osaka to Tokyo on a single fuelling of hydrogen started in front of the Osaka Prefectural Government Office in central Osaka City. The vehicle travelled via the Meishin Expressway, Tomei Expressway and Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway to Tokyo.
The trip concluded at the Mega Web automobile-themed amusement facility in Tokyo's waterfront area and was completed with the air-conditioner on and with no need to stop for refuelling.
The Toyota FCHV used in the trip is 25 per cent more fuel efficient than earlier versions largely due to improvements in the Toyota developed, high-performance â€˜Toyota FCâ€™ Stack fuel cell and to improvements in the control system for managing fuel cell output and battery charging/discharging.
It also features Toyota developed 70Mpa high-pressure hydrogen tanks capable of storing approximately twice the amount of hydrogen as the Toyota FCHV's previous 35Mpa high-pressure hydrogen tanks. Toyota claim that these improvements are enough to make it possible to achieve a single-fuelling cruising distance of approximately 750km.
One of the larger issues confronting the use of hydrogen is availability, storage and the associated infrastructure. Toyota claim that they are actively working toward making fuel cell vehicles widespread by cooperating with the Japanese government, energy companies and other concerned entities.
In other words, itâ€™s a while off yet and while the research into alternative fuels continues donâ€™t be racing (I use the term lightly) down to the local Toyota dealer to trade in the Prius.