Who is right? Toyota or Tesla? Toyota believes: Hydrogen Fuel Cells will win over Battery Powered EVs.

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The Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Powered EV:

Courtesy: Bloomberg

The Mirai has two tanks of high pressure hydrogen, a fuel cell and an electric motor.  It sells for $100,000 in Germany, has a range of 343 miles and refueling time is approximately 5 minutes.  There are 4 hydrogen stations in the Hamburg area today (see one below):

Courtesy, Autocar Pro News Desk, October 14, 2015

Toyota’s Overall Goal:

Eliminate gasoline and diesel powered vehicles by 2050.

What is Toyota’s track record in hybrids and EVs?

Toyota introduced the Prius, a mid sized, hybrid vehicle in 1997.  It has sold 8 million vehicles since.

What’s driving Toyota?:

According to Andy Sherman at FT in his article, “Toyota bets the future car will be fueled by hydrogen”, published October 25, 2015, VW’s “dieselgate” has increased the sense of urgency at Toyota.

Who else is betting on hydrogen powered Fuel Cells?:

  • The Hyundai ix35 FCEV went into production in 2013 and sells for $81,000 in the UK.  Hyundai states the range is 369 miles.  The cost to fill up in the UK is about $30 but there are only 20 hydrogen filling stations in the UK
Courtesy, Hyundai website
  • Honda, collaborating with GM, expects to release a hydrogen FCEV in 2016.
  • Nissan, collaborating with Mercedes and Ford, expects to launch a hydrogen FCEV in 2017
  • Shell, in a joint venture with Air Liquide and Linde, operates 3 hydrogen filling stations in Germany and expects to open more in early 2016.  The overall goal is have 400 stations operating by 2023
Courtesy, Shell website
Courtesy, Shell Global
  • Total, partnering with Mercedes and Linde, has a goal of operating 50 hydrogen filling stations in Germany by the end of 2016 (Total article published October 1, 2015)
Courtesy, Total website

Hydrogen_Total_Press_Release_151025What is their Argument?:

Battery electric cars have shorter range and take hours to recharge.

They appear to ignore the investment to construct a hydrogen filling station which Goldman Sachs analysts estimate is in the range of $3.2 to $4 million, compared to a cost of $800 thousand for a gas station (Refer to Andy Sharman’s FT article).

ARK invest on September 20, 2015 estimated Tesla’s cost to construct a Supercharger station is $270,000 and that the average utilization rate today is just 3.3%.

Do you buy into the arguments for a vibrant hydrogen FCEV future?:

Let’s take a look Tesla Motors’ established track record to date (with approximately 100,000 vehicles in use) and recognize the purchase price for the S Sedan ranges from $80,000 to $120,000.  The Model 3, expected to launch in 2018, is expected to have a range of 200 miles and selling price of $35,000.  Tesla and Panasonic forecast Model 3 unit sales will be 400,000 in 2020.

Number of Tesla Supercharger stations in 2016:

It looks as though Tesla Motors is far ahead of the hydrogen proponents when it comes to stations where you can refill (with hydrogen) or recharge your battery in Europe and the US.

Courtesy, Tesla Motors website
Courtesy, Tesla Motors website
Courtesy, Tesla Motors website

Tesla Motors data on recharge rates for the Tesla S:

It does not take hours to recharge battery powered EVs.

Courtesy, Tesla Motors website
Courtesy, Tesla Motors website

Tesla Motors published specifications on Range for three different S Sedans:

Vehicle range is 240 (the 70D) to 275 (the 85D) miles.  We agree this is not the 343 mile range of the Toyota Mirai, but do EV and FCEV buyers really care?

Courtesy, Tesla Motors website

Has Toyota got it Right?  Are FCEVs the future? Or are battery powered EVs the future?

What do you think?

We think this would be a wonderful case for a Value Innovation study.  There are many things to be considered from vehicle, fuel cell and battery performance to recharge and refill times to costs to build a hydrogen infrastructure compared to generating electricity at the levels required to support a global battery powered EV fleet.

Want to Learn More?:

Andy Sharman’s FT article

Shell’s plans for hydrogen filling stations in Germany

Total’s plans for hydrogen filling stations in Germany

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2 Responses

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