After hybrid success, Toyota gambles on fuel cell
Rocket science long dismissed as too impractical and expensive for everyday cars is getting a push into the mainstream by Toyota, the world's top-selling automaker.
Buoyed by its success with electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles, Toyota is betting that drivers will embrace hydrogen fuel cells, an even cleaner technology that runs on the energy created by an electrochemical reaction when oxygen in the air combines with hydrogen stored as fuel.
Unlike internal combustion engines which power most vehicles on roads today, a pure hydrogen fuel cell emits no exhaust, only some heat and a trickle of pure water.
Toyota's fuel cell car will go on sale before April next year.
For the auto industry in particular, there have been significant hurdles to commercialization including the prohibitive expense. On top of that, fueling stations are almost nonexistent. Doubters also quibble about the green credentials of fuel cells because hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels.
The planned commercial model will sell for about 7 million yen ($70,000) in Japan. Overseas prices have not yet been announced.
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