Toyota Explains the Benefits of Hydrogen Versus Full Electric
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.