Dead-end, or the fast lane into the future? Opinion is divided over whether there will ever be a market for cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
Well, Toyota is about to go some way to giving an answer.
The Japanese giant announced at the Paris Motor Show that it will be putting fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) on sale in Europe next year.
Following announcements that Toyota’s fuel cell sedan car will go on sale in Japan and California in 2015, the company has added the UK, Germany and Denmark to the list.
However, no one is expecting consumers to make a mad dash to their local car dealer for the four-door mid-size car.
Toyota’s FCV (“fool cell vehicle” say critics) is powered by electricity created by the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, leaving water vapour as the only tailpipe emission.
Trouble is, the cars need re-filling with hydrogen, and infrastructure to do this is virtually non-existent. So why put them on sale?
Satoshi Ogiso, managing officer at Toyota Motor Corporation and a key executive behind the FCV, admits that next year’s launches are baby steps. “But Toyota plays the long game,” he told the BBC.