Toyota gears up for more fuel-cell vehicles, will add stations

The FCV concept, which was unveiled at the Tokyo auto show in October, goes on sale in early 2015.
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LAS VEGAS -- Toyota's engineers have been so successful reducing the cost of the company's new fuel-cell powered FCV sedan that the U.S. operation has asked headquarters to boost their initial allotment.

The only problem is Toyota U.S.A. isn't ready to say how many vehicles it actually wants.

Bob Carter, senior vice president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., says he is optimistic that fuel-cell powered vehicles will catch on more quickly than anyone expects. During a Monday press conference at the CES show in Las Vegas, Carter predicted strong demand for fuel-cell vehicles in California.

"Hydrogen-powered vehicles will be in our future much faster than many people believe, and in much greater numbers," he said.

The FCV concept, which was unveiled at the Tokyo auto show in October, goes on sale in early 2015.

Soichiro Okudaira, chief of Toyota's r&d group, told Automotive News Europe last month that the company expected to sell 5,000 to 10,000 units globally. But Toyota has not announced sales goals for individual regions.

Carter noted that California has earmarked $200 million to build 100 hydrogen fuel stations. Ten already exist, and there are plans to build 20 stations in 2015, plus 20 more stations in 2016.

According to Carter, a recent study concluded that 68 stations placed in key locations in Silicon Valley, San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California could support a community of 10,000 fuel-cell powered vehicles.

"We don't need a station on every corner," Carter said.

You can reach David Sedgwick at dsedgwick@crain.com.


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