Electric car fanboys have yet another reason to mock Toyota. The Japanese automaker says it will soon mass-make fuel-cell vehicles and leverage economy of scale to drop costs dramatically, per Reuters.
This plan will include passenger cars like the Mirai as well as SUVs, but buses and heavy-duty trucks will be a key component. The fuel cells going into these vehicles will be improved over what the current-gen Mirai uses, Toyota said.
There’s no shortage of critics for fuel cells, but Toyota isn’t letting that deter the efforts at all. It’s similar to all the hatred toward hybrids int the early 2000s. History repeats itself, or that’s a possibility here.
This new fuel-cell manufacturing push will start in the early 2020s, so Toyota has some time to get its ducks in a row. The second-generation Mirai will head up the effort, with other fuel-cell models rolling out starting around 2025. Both SUVs and pickup trucks are supposed to be in the mix. Supposedly, the new Mirai will have a range of somewhere around 460 miles.
Toyota management did tell Reuters the plan calls for sharing as many components with current models as possible, all in the interest of shaving down costs. The bet is that rare materials needed of electric car batteries will be that technology’s undoing before it hits mainstream. Is Toyota taking a risk? Absolutely, and only time will tell if it’s a good one or not.