Can Toyota's Fuel Cell Technology Save the Electric Car?
Soon there will be an electric car on the market that, believe it or not, works like a normal car. It will have a range of 600 kilometers (375 miles). Recharging it will take minutes, not hours. In fact, it won't even require an electrical outlet, because its fuel is hydrogen and it makes its own electricity. And, just as surprising, this car isn't the product of some bold startup company trying to secure venture capital -- but of the world's largest automaker.
At this year's Tokyo Motor Show in late November, Toyota will unveil a sedan that -- despite the company's traditionally mediocre design and the car's moderate total output of about 100 kilowatts -- is likely to attract attention. It will be the world's first series-produced fuel-cell car to be sold on the market. Toyota has announced that it will be available for purchase starting in 2015.
The car is powered by a fuel cell -- a sort of power plant on wheels which combines hydrogen and oxygen in a controlled manner, producing electricity in the process. Although fuel cells have been around for a long time, they lost their allure when battery technology advanced, making fuel cells, in comparison, too expensive, too complicated and too inefficient. The battery seemed to have won the race.
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