Tag: hydrogen fuel cell
By now most people have heard of hydrogen fuel cells being used in vehicles like the Toyota Mirai to move them around the road without utilizing fossil fuels to do the job. This technology is pretty cool, and it works surprisingly well, but so far it isn’t’ all that practical on a wide-scale. That’s because hydrogen isn’t widely available just yet, and it could be quite a while before there are enough hydrogen refueling facilities to keep cars running all over the world. That’s one of the reasons that Toyota has been toying with the idea of a natural gas fuel cell instead.
A Natural Gas Fuel Cell
Just like the hydrogen fuel cell, a natural gas fuel cell would be used to generate electricity to drive a vehicle down the road. The main difference is that it will use natural gas rather than pure hydrogen. The natural gas would be split into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and both substances would be used to generate electricity for the vehicle. The fuel cell stack on its own will generate electricity at around 53 percent efficiency, but by putting a heat reclaimer in the system Toyota is able to reach efficiency levels around 65 percent, which is better than its current hydrogen fuel cell.
Not as Helpful to Climate change
One of the major criticisms of this new technology is that burning natural gas is not as good for the environment as hydrogen fuel could be if it was produced using renewable resources, and that’s absolutely true. AT the moment hydrogen isn’t being produced with renewable resources though, and it’s being created with fossil fuels. In other words, relying on a natural gas fuel cell over a hydrogen fuel cell could actually be better for the environment currently. That’s because natural gas contributes less to climate change than gas or diesel fuel does. Making the switch to another fossil fuel might not seem like the right move to help mitigate climate change, but at the moment it’s a step that actually makes quite a bit of sense.
Maybe Not for Vehicle Use
While Toyota is experimenting with this new technology, at the moment it only seems like it’s destined for businesses and residential use to generate power for local energy needs. It isn’t being tested for vehicle use just yet, and it’s possible that the tech will never be used in vehicles. Even still, it’s interesting to look at different technologies and ways of doing things.
The new Mirai hydrogen-powered car from Toyota isn’t the only way that the automaker is making use of hydrogen to benefit the earth and make a shift from fossil fuels. Apparantely the Toyota also plans on using hydrogen in its Miyata plant to power forklifts. This is a technique that could shift to additional tasks and applications in the industrial world, and it’s something that is reducing carbon dioxide emissions noticeably.
How is the System Greener?
Toyota is currently using all-electric forklifts throughout its plant, which seems green on the surface, but in reality most of that power is produced by burning fossil fuels. Switching to hydrogen-powered units is greener when you consider Toyota’s plan to use excess solar energy to create that hydrogen. That means that the hydrogen used by the forklifts will be mostly clean energy that didn’t require the release of any CO2 emissions into the air.
Future Plans for Hydrogen
Toyota isn’t just planning to use hydrogen in its forklifts. The automaker is also looking for other areas where the fuel source could be applied for even more green improvements. There are serious opportunities in heating and cooling applications within the facility, where 60 percent of the energy is currently going.
Hydrogen is an exciting alternative fuel because it’s easy to produce from solar energy and it can be effectively stored until used. Sure it’s a bit less efficient than using electricity for the direct application right after it’s produced by the panel, but that’s not the point. A huge amount of solar energy can be harnessed at the right spots on earth, and that energy could be used all over the place if it was stored properly for when it’s actually needed, and also so that it can be transferred to locations away from where the power is being produced.
Toyota is leading the way for hydrogen fuel adoption with the Mirai, and perhaps in the future more people will rely on hydrogen as a fuel source because of the work that Toyota did.
Toyota has been working hard to push forward hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and recently started selling the Mirai vehicle. About 57 Mirai’s have been sold to date and the owners of those vehicles in Southern Cali are running into a bit of trouble when trying to refuel them. That’s because some of the expected refueling stations around the area are lagging behind schedule. This could make owning the vehicle into a stressful experience with just four refueling stations open currently, but Toyota’s quick thinking is keeping the experience a positive own for all the early adopters. The automaker found a way to make six additional refueling spots available to give the owner’s more flexibility than they would have with the actual stations currently open.
Portable Refueling Stations
Toyota set up six portable refueling stations right at six of the eight dealerships that sold the Mirai vehicles to those customers. That means most Mirai buyers can simply head back to their local dealership to refuel the vehicle anytime that it needs to be topped up, free of charge of course. This just shows that Toyota really wants the Mirai to succeed and even though things don’t always go according to plan the automaker can work through problems to make the tech work.
Why the Lag?
California has ambitious plans to open up dozens of refueling stations, but the government has had some trouble getting them up and running according to schedule. It’s unclear if it’s a construction issue, or something to do with regulations. Private companies are involved in the plan as well and they could be leading to the holdup as well. Either way, while Mirai customers wait for the other refueling stations to open up they can rely on Toyota to provide all the fuel that they need. Thankfully the Mirai has a range of around 300 miles and shouldn’t need to be refueled that regularly except for the very heavy drivers.
If you’re a customer waiting on the Mirai and you’re starting to freak out thinking that you won’t have a place to refuel the vehicle relax and know that Toyota has your back. The automaker wants the tech to succeed because it knows fuel cells have a strong future, sure there will be some growing pains along the way, but that’s nothing that Toyota can’t handle.
Forbes recently spoke with Toyota about some of Tesla’s offerings as well as the upcoming launch of the Toyota Mirai. The Mirai is a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle that runs on compress hydrogen as its fuel source. Toyota doesn’t see electric vehicles as being a realistic green source of transportation at the moment, and according to the automaker a time when electric vehicles are a good reliable way to get around over long distances is a long way off in the future.
Electric Cars Have Some Difficult Challenges to Overcome
When it comes to increasing the range of electric vehicles, Scott, a Toyota Executive says that there are some difficult Physics and chemistry problems that have to be solved still. He explains that to increase the range of an electric vehicle you have to add a heavy electric battery. He goes on to say that each additional battery improves the range of the vehicle by a marginal amount and that all the added weight that you add from the battery further decreases the range that you’ll get from that battery.
According to Scott electric vehicles are an ideal solution for short-distance travel because they are highly efficient at what they do. He goes on to state that they aren’t yet suitable for long distance travel and that a new material with a higher energy density has to be developed to change that.
The Charging Dilemma
Another issue that Scott sees with electric vehicles is that they can’t be charged too quickly. Charging an electric vehicle quickly can damage the battery components and it requires a massive amount of power. With an increase in energy capacity it would become more and more difficult to get all the necessary power into the batteries in a timely manner. This isn’t an issue with vehicles like the Mirai or standard gasoline or diesel vehicles, because they rely on a fuel source that can be pumped into the vehicle relatively efficiently. The fuel source has a higher energy density than batteries do, and that makes them into a more effective tool for long-distance travelling.
Hydrogen Vehicles Don’t Face the Same Hurdles
Unlike electric vehicles that are still waiting for key technology enhancements, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles aren’t waiting for those enhancements. According to Toyota the vehicles are already ready for long distance travel, and with a range of over 300 miles on a fill up that takes less than 10 minutes it’s easy to see that they’re on to something. The Mirai only really faces two specific challenges still. The first is lowering the cost of the technology to make cars that are around similar prices to standard new vehicles sold today. Toyota says that goal is a realistic one and that they are already making improvements to lower the cost of the technology further. The second is getting hydrogen refueling stations around the country so that owners can actually enjoy long-distance travel. This issue won’t be that difficult to solve once enough drivers adopt the fuel cell technology. As demand increases for the new fuel source more stations will pop up around the country, and there is already a significant level of support for the stations with infrastructure being improved around the country already.
The hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle isn’t perfect yet, but it’s much closer to being the best suitable option for long-distance travel than the electric vehicle is, and that’s exactly what Toyota had to say about electric vehicles versus the Toyota Mirai.
Automotive News and Transport Evolved recently interviewed LAcarGuy owner Mike Sullivan about the Toyota Mirai and about how his Toyota dealership in Santa Monica California is one of just eight dealerships in the country releasing the product early on.
The Mirai is One Car Sullivan Isn’t Selling
Don’t get me wrong, the Toyota Mirai will be available for order at Toyota of Santa Monica, and it will be available there earlier than most other places in the world. While the car’s going to be in stock, Mike Sullivan explains that getting the cars to customers is more of a matchmaking process than it is a numbers game like most vehicles are. This is because he wants to make sure that each and every one of the early adopters truly loves the car.
If a buyer comes into the dealership and requests the vehicle the dealership will look them over and decide if the car is a good fit for their lifestyle. If it isn’t they will actually turn customers down and redirect them to a more suitable vehicle. This isn’t to be mean, or to be overly exclusive. It’s just to make sure that customers aren’t unhappy with their purchase.
This is what Sullivan had to say about the challenge of selling the Mirai.“With everything else on my lot, I’m selling something. It’s what I do,” “This car is the exact opposite. It’s the reverse of selling. We’re going to turn people down if this isn’t the car for you.”
Challenges with the Mirai
The Toyota Mirai isn’t a bargain car with a starting price of $58,325 and initially it won’t be the easiest to refuel with just a handful of hydrogen refueling stations around California. For these two reasons the vehicle simply isn’t going to be a good fit for everyone. If you don’t live close enough to refueling stations it will be a burden fueling up the car. If you’re looking for a bargain car this one’s likely too expensive.
Choosing the Original Mirai Dealerships
The first eight stores stocked with the Mirai were all chosen for a list of specific reasons. They are all located near planned hydrogen fueling stations. They are all high-volume electric and hybrid selling locations and they have the finances to handle any upgrades necessary to make the sales possible.
Giving Customers an Early Look at the Mirai
Mike Sullivan has been working hard to promote the Mirai and everything the vehicle stands for. He even hopped on the live streaming program Periscope to give dozens of interested people a walk around look at the Mirai in real time.
Introducing the Mirai Champion
Many of the eight Toyota dealerships to start off selling the Mirai before any others in the country plan on assigning a single employee to serve as the Mirai expert. This Mirai Champion will talk with every customer interested in buying the hydrogen fuel-cell car. The hope with assigning a single person to the task is that they become an expert on the matter and provide a more reliable and consistent buying experience for each of the Mirai shoppers. A similar strategy was employed by Nissan when the company began selling the LEAF to customers.
Toyota of Santa Monica Upgrades
To get the Toyota dealership ready to sell the Mirai a number of improvements have to be made to it. The first is an upgrade to the repair center so that repairs and services can be performed on the Mirai after it starts selling to customers. That way customers have a place they can take the vehicle if any work needs to be performed. Sullivan is also planning to add a personal hydrogen refueling station so that dealership customers can refuel their vehicles after making the purchase. This will cost around $150,000 for the dealership to do, but it’s a small price to make the dealership more accessible and it’s a real perk for customers that live in the area.
The Toyota Mirai is arguably an even more revolutionary technology than the Prius was when it was first released all those years ago. If you’re at all curious about the new technology and you want to see the vehicle first hand now’s your opportunity! This SBC Member Mentor session is all about introducing the Toyota Mirai and learning what it can do for the environment. It’s an exciting new piece of technology and could be a major turning point for the automotive industry. Not only is the session good to learn about the new technology, but it will serve as a valuable networking opportunity to get you in touch with other members of the SBC as well.
Where and When
The event is scheduled to take place on Thursday July 23rd. It will start at 12:00PM and conclude at 1:30PM. It’s going to be located at Lexus Santa Monica at 1501 Santa Monica Blvd.
Get To Know New Professionals
If you’re interested in getting to know other sustainable business owners and associates in your area the presentation is a good opportunity to do some serious networking. The first 15 minutes of the event will be spent networking with the other members attending. This gives you a chance to meet up with new people and ask any questions that you have. Expand your current network and get in touch with other professionals who can help your business grow and develop.
Get an Introduction to the Mirai
A quick 20 minute presentation from Alisha Auringer, the Manager of the Environment at LAcarGUY will help you understand more about the Toyota Mirai and how it works. You’ll get a look at the tech that drives this unique vehicle and soon you’ll have a much better understanding of how a car can drive around with nothing but hydrogen in the tank.
Build Your Understanding
After you learn all the new information abut the Mira you’re likely to have some questions. That’s why there is another 20 minute sessions for questions and comments after the initial presentation. You can ask more about the car, or learn more from the questions that other people ask.
Get Your First Look at the Mirai
If you’ve been waiting to get an up-close look at the new Mirai now’s your chance. The last half hour of the Mentor session will be spent taking a closer look at an actual Mirai and possibly giving out test drives as well. Get a look at the technology that is powering this revolutionary new vehicle and you can start to develop some new ideas around introducing this vehicle to customers.
If you’re interested in attending this mentoring event you can easily RSVP for it here. The event is scheduled to take place on Thursday, July 23rd. Sign up now to make sure you have a spot.
If you are considering attending the event and you aren’t a SBC (Sustainable Business Council of Los Angeles) member yet, you can learn more about it and join up here. It’s a great opportunity and will give you a chance to connect with other like-minded business owners in the area.
LAcarGUY has lead the revolution when it comes to offering environmentally friendly vehicles for sale to the public, more people come to the LAcarGUY family of dealers for EV’s Hybrids and Clean Diesels that just about anyone else in the country. Our leadership on that front continues as Toyota Santa Monica has been named one of eight exclusive stores to sell the Toyota Mirai, the next step in the revolution of environmentally responsible vehicles from Toyota.
The Toyota Mirai is a four-door, mid-size sedan with performance that fully competes with traditional internal combustion engines – but it uses no gasoline and emits nothing but water vapor. The groundbreaking fuel cell electric vehicle is powered by hydrogen, re-fuels in about five minutes, and travels up to 300 miles on a full tank.
In its basic operation, a fuel cell vehicle works much like a battery electric vehicle. But instead of the large drive battery, Mirai’s fuel cell stack combines hydrogen gas from tanks with oxygen to produce electricity that powers the electric motor.
Beginning in summer, you can request a Mirai by visiting www.toyota.com/mirai. Production of the Mirai is limited to approximately 3000 units through 2017 , and vehicles will be placed with select, eligible customers. Therefore, we encourage you to make your requests early to save a potential parking spot in transportation history. You can visit www.toyota.com/mirai today to sign up for more information and notification of exact order request launch timing in the coming months, also make sure to stop in at Toyota Santa Monica to talk to us about the Mirai, and watch for more news coming on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Since the release of the Mirai many from the US have been worried about the high price of the vehicle. Sure it’s new technology, and the price is bound to dip down with time, but for most people it’s hard to imagine such space-age technology ever being as affordable as a budget gasoline vehicle that you can pick up today, and Toyota concedes that it probably won’t be, although it might be close.
Getting Prices in Line with Diesels
Since before Toyota made the announcement they were producing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles they have been pushing engineers to figure out how to reduce the cost to produce the vehicle by any means possible. Toyota knows that the lower the price of the car is, the more likely it is to be adopted and sell in larger numbers. According to Toyota and their team of engineers it should be possible to get the vehicle’s price down to around what a diesel sedan of the same size sells for today. That’s certainly not as affordable as some of the gas sedans that you can get in this country, but it’s much cheaper than the $57,500 asking price the Mirai is going for at the moment.
Building a Hydrogen Infrastructure
Toyota has been having troubles getting a refueling infrastructure up and running too, and this is largely because there aren’t too many people interested in backing the technology today. It’s still a gamble, and despite a pretty high demand for the vehicle, now that it’s in production, there is no telling whether people are going to really commit to fuel-cell technology or not yet.
Fuel Cell Vehicles Versus Electric
While Tesla believes that electric cars are the transportation of the future, the executives at Toyota are convinced that buyers will feel more comfortable with the way that fuel-cell vehicles work, and stick with that technology for the higher range and greater level of familiarity. Unfortunately fuel-cell technology is more expensive. Battery prices keep coming down and electric charging stations are much more affordable to construct than hydrogen refueling stations are.
It’s hard to say which technology is going to prevail, and it’s possible they will simply coexist in the future, but if Toyota can make good on its claim to create the more affordable fuel-cell vehicle and there is no public timeline on that goal yet, there is a good chance more people will back the technology and we’ll see a market shift in that direction.
So far luxury car owners have been somewhat overlooked by the emerging hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Sure the Toyota Mirai has some luxury features, but at the end of the day it’s not a luxury vehicle and that leaves a market gap wide open. Audi is planning on filling in that gap with their hydrogen fuel-cell concept that they debuted at the 2014 LA Auto Show. A7 h-tron concept offers an impressive level of performance for such a new technology, and packs it all into a great looking body that many elite drivers would love to move around in.
While the concept car doesn’t deliver world-class performance, it does come packed with enough power to be fun to drive around. It travels from 0 to 62 in just 7.9 seconds, which isn’t amazing by any means, but it’s quick enough to push you back in your seat. The h-tron manages this feat by utilizing the 228 HP motor that provides 398 lb.-ft. of torque to all four tires of the vehicle. The concept offers a top speed of 112 MPH, which is more than enough to travel on the highway comfortably.
While an Audi is expected to perform well many sporty cars aren’t known for their efficiency. That’s not the case with this concept car however, and it manages an equivalent of 62 miles per gallon, and travels a total of around 310 miles when all four of its tanks are full. The tanks take only around three minutes to fill completely and they hold a total of 11 pounds of hydrogen. The vehicle manages to save weight in the exhaust system by utilizing plastic to vent the water vapor rather than a traditional metal exhaust.
The A7 h-tron comes with a recycling system that recirculates any unused hydrogen to try and use it all up effectively. It also comes packed with a massive 8.8 kWh battery that can drive the vehicle on for an additional 31 miles when fully charged. The battery charges from regenerative braking during driving, or it can be charged using a power cord at home or at the office if plugs are available. It takes four hours with a 230 volt source and just two hours if you have a 360 volt fast charger available.
Although the car isn’t yet in production and Audi didn’t release any pricing information it’s essentially finished. At the show the automaker offered test drives, and explained that the vehicle would look essentially the same once sold to the public. They haven’t released any information about when it will start being sold, but it looks like Toyota and Honda have some competition, albeit in a different market sector than them.