Funny, but it doesn’t look like a regular car
Well, yes that’s why Toyota is persisting with the ‘concept’ tag until its ready to show a more sensibly styled car. Still, you can glean enough from this model to work out roughly what the real world product will be like.
Those air intakes aren’t for show, as the car really does need to suck in a fair quantity to keep its various systems cool. Plus, it’ll likely end up closer in size to an Avensis than the more compact Prius, which means it’ll be a genuine mid-size saloon.
So this is the future of motoring, then?
Not quite, but like so many car makers, Toyota is keen not to have all its eggs in one basket. The firm is understandably continuing with its petrol-electric hybrid technology, although it’s sensibly got one eye on the future.
After a few years of uncertainty, if you believe the industry watchers, hydrogen could soon be back in fashion. It’s not the easiest of technologies to harness thanks to the complex way energy it’s generated onboard a car.
However, the potential to fuel your car at home and refuel it in the time it currently takes to fill a petrol car could put pure electric cars in the shade. Oh, and the range per fill up should be comparable to current petrol-powered models too.
What’s it like to drive?
Very good, but you’d expect that from a prototype this close to production spec. The experience is akin to that of driving an electric car, which is hardly surprising as the hydrogen tech onboard the FCV converts the energy into electricity to power the car’s motor.
The result is a very Prius-like experience, with the FCV displaying a decent turn of speed. Acceleration is brisk, although it’s clear that top speed isn’t currently a priority as the FCV prefers to settle down to a law-abiding cruise rather than chase the horizon at a rate of knots.
What is most noticeable though is the hushed manner in which the FCV goes about its business. Save for some distant electric motor and compressor whine, the experience from inside the cabin is just like that of a pure electric car. All in all, a good effort.
When can I buy one?
Don’t get too excited – it’s going to be mid decade before anything resembling a production car hits the roads. There’s the small issue of the car’s exterior design to finalise, plus it’s not going to be rolled out to all the corners of the globe at once.
Rough, unconfirmed estimates put the asking price in the region of £50,000-£60,000, so you’ll need to start saving now. Furthermore, you’ll need somewhere to fill it up.
The refueling side of the business isn’t something car makers have total control over, so they’re relying on related companies to get their act together. And progress has been faster in some countries than others.
Bottom line for UK motorists: don’t expect to pull up at your local filling station to find a hydrogen pump next to the mucky diesel one. Not for a few years anyway. Still, when it does arrive, hopefully Toyota’s FCV will have been worth the wait.