It is anticipated that Toyota’s global sales of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) will escalate significantly post 2020, from today’s production of 3,000 units to an estimated minimum of 30,000. In preparation for this growth, Toyota has unveiled new plans for two new large-scale production facilities in Japan.
The Honsha plant will accommodate the expansion of fuel cell stack production, while the Shimoyama factory will gain a new line to manufacture high-pressure hydrogen tanks. The fuel cell stack in an FCEV generates electricity from a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen and then powering the car with zero harmful emissions. The hydrogen fuel required is contained in onboard high-pressure tanks. Manufacturing these tanks at an appropriate scale is crucial to reducing system costs, making FCEVs more widely available to the populous.
Expansion of production facilities
Increasing fuel cell stack output, Toyota shall be moving production to a new high-tech, eight-floor facility within its Honsha plant close by to the company’s original car factory. The nearby Shimoyama plant will handle the production of the high-pressure hydrogen tanks from a new dedicated manufacturing line, soon to be added. Previously, tanks were assembled on a smaller scale at Honsha.
Tanks are made of extraordinarily thick carbon fibre, built to withstand major impacts. These new facilities are expected to help reduce carbon emissions during production. An initiative supporting the Plant Zero CO2 Emissions Challenge in the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, announced in October 2015.
Construction is now underway at Shimoyama, the exterior of the new building at Honsha has also been completed, ready for its interior.
Expansion of FCEV sales
Now a mature technology Hydrogen fuel cells are ready for wider distribution. Toyota led the market whilst introducing the Mirai fuel cell saloon in December 2014. Since its launch annual sales have increased each year, from around 700 vehicles in 2015 to about 2,000 in 2016 and approximately 3,000 in 2017.
Toyota aims to encourage widespread use of hydrogen-powered, zero emission vehicles. Increasing their production goals for 2020 will support availability and popularity. Toyota aims to sell 30,000 FCEVs annually from around that time.
Currently, Mirai is sold in 11 countries: Japan, the USA and a further nine European countries, including the UK. To promote a developing environment that allows FCEVs to be sold in additional future markets, demonstration tests of Mirai are underway in Australia, Canada and the United Arab Emirates. Examining this demand for FCEVs, Toyota is able to continue to support and engage others in their initiative to promote hydrogen infrastructure development.
Toyota aims to reach sales of at least 1,000 FCEVs per month in Japan and extend this to more than 10,000 annually from around 2020. Within the country, sales regions will be expanded further, from the current four major metropolitan areas make the FCEVs accessible to more customers nationally. Commercially, Toyota introduced fuel cell buses to the Tokyo city authority in February 2017 and a final version of its model, the Sora this year. Aiming to sell at least 100 fuel cell buses ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Looking forward, Toyota plans to expand its FCEV product range to strengthen product appeal and bring vehicle costs down further. Continuing its work with the Toyota Group and other companies to develop a hydrogen supply infrastructure and build a low-carbon hydrogen supply chain. With a view to bringing about a hydrogen-based society.