Are hydrogen-powered cars the more effective alternative than electric vehicles?
Toyota thinks so. And the automaker continues to spur along other automakers to follow its blueprint for a "hydrogen society."
After releasing upwards of 5,600 patents for fuel-cell technology last year, Toyota continues to mash the dash in imploring other automakers to be open to hydrogen.
"Toyota firmly believes the benefits of a hydrogen society are enormous for a healthy global environment," Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada said in comments, as reported by USA Today. "That is why we are playing a leading role in bringing together automakers, energy companies, government agencies and others to help build the required refueling infrastructure."
He added: "We want to encourage others to participate in creating the hydrogen society. By engaging our collective brain power, these possibilities can become reality."
According to USA Today, in this year so far, Toyota has sold 100 Mirai cars, which is its first mainstream hydrogen-powered vehicle.
But just as Tesla and General Motors — two leading companies advancing electric vehicles — are experiencing, Toyota believes that not having an adequate amount of refueling stations is keeping the fuel-cell technology from flourishing in the United States. And it's an issue that needs to be resolved, working with state regulators for further adoption.
"The big problem is not enough hydrogen refueling stations," Uchiyamada added. "If we want fuel cell vehicles to become popular, we have to build infrastructure from the ground up. And that is no easy task."
Hey, but if there's one automaker equipped to help change that, it's seemingly Toyota. Having introduced the Prius in the U.S. back in 1999, the company had to knock down doors to prove its worth as an environmentally-friendly vehicle. Of course, its [current] 44/40/42 miles per gallon for city/highway/combined, respectively, helps.
To date, Toyota has sold north of eight million Priuses in the states.
Toyota showed off its FCV Plus hydrogen-based concept vehicle last fall to oohs and ahhs from the automotive community, so there seems to be real interest there. If automakers take Toyota up on its offer to use its patents and develop their own hydrogen-based vehicles, we could see a real movement and even leaning towards the technology.
Last month, reports surfaced about Honda being in talks with GM to collaborate on fuel-cell technology ... so maybe the hydrogen-society movement has already started.