As demonstrated by California, the first state to undertake development of a hydrogen fueling network, this infrastructure has been very slow to emerge. Although former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger set a goal to build 100 new hydrogen stations up and down the length of California, Carter noted that by 2015 there will be only 20, and just twice that many by 2016.
However, Carter added that, working with the University of California, Toyota has identified strategic locations throughout the state for hydrogen fueling sites; regardless of sheer numbers, every driver would be no more than six miles from a fill-up. "Using this model, if every vehicle in California were on hydrogen, we could meet their re-fueling needs with 15% of the current number of gas stations...
"Stay tuned, because this infrastructure thing is going to happen."
A key to the development of the Toyota fuel-cell technology was an advanced boost converter that improved battery efficiency in Toyota's popular hybrid Prius.
This improvement reduced weight, space, and "considerable cost," noted Carter. This evolution contributed to Toyota's fuel-cell research. The fuel cell will be housed beneath driver and passenger seats and will be capable of 100 kilowatts of output, "enough to power a house for a week in an emergency."
The car "will be as quiet as a Lexus hybrid," according to Carter. And it will be capable, he added proudly, of speeds up to 100 miles per hour.
"This is a regular car," said Carter, "with a truly brand-new exotic power-train." Best of all, its exhaust, if all this comes true, will consist of a hydrogen-oxygen by-product called water -- and nothing else.
— David Benjamin is a freelance writer for EE Times.