Only two cars were on display at the show: Hyundai’s updated ix35 which is on public roads already, and Toyota’s FCEV concept. Honda decided not to bring their prototype for some reason – their entire booth was surprisingly void of anything electric or “sustainable”. You have to wonder why they decided to do that.
If you follow my articles on KITCO News you will know that I had the privilege of driving the ix35 fuel cell car in Germany last year. So I was happy to get confirmation of their plan to release 1,000 fuel cell cars in California during 2014. The roll-out is about to begin, and the terms are very attractive: $499 monthly lease, which includes “all you can use” hydrogen for the duration of the term. There aren’t many refueling stations yet which is a downside, but California just pledged to build 200 of them, and the ix35 has a range of over 300 miles, similar to a Tesla, so it shouldn’t be too big of an issue unless you want to travel town-to-town.
Toyota, on the other hand, assured me that the prototype on display will be very close to the final product. The rear view cameras will be exchanged with conventional mirrors, of course, and crash test requirements will surely take a toll, too. I hope the sparkly headlight LEDs will stay; they look really cool (pic below). According to statements made by Toyota the company was able to reduce the cost of building the power train by over 90%, and they are planning to sell the cars below cost at a price comparable to a battery electric vehicle (typically $30-40k). Here is a link to a Toyota press release giving more information on their plans, and a link to a Reuters article on pricing.
If 2014 is the American year of the electric car, I have little doubt that 2015 will be the American year of the hydrogen car.
(Pictures: Felix Albrecht)