It hasn’t been even a year since the Toyota Mirai, the world’s first mass-market fuel cell vehicle, went on sale, and Toyota is already toying with new ideas for its next fuel cell vehicles. As future goes hydrogen, we may see a fuel cell Toyota SUV and sports car, indicates a report from Motoring.com.au.
Speaking to the Australian publication, Yoshikazu Tanaka, Toyota Motor Corporation’s Deputy Chief Engineer and Toyota Mirai’s chief engineer, revealed that a hydrogen fuel cell SUV from Toyota is possible.
“I’m not ruling out the possibly of SUV but we’ll have to pace out the design evolution of FCV together with the design of the core technology,” Mr. Tanaka said. “I mean, at the point we believe the SUV would be very attractive as an FCV, we will do that,” he added.
It’s all about design and structure, about what Toyota wants and what is possible technically. Mr. Tanaka said that the company started introduced a sedan first to the mass-market FCV segment because it can be made incredibly aerodynamic – something that’s not impossible but tough when it comes to SUVs. Asked if the fuel cell SUV, if made, will be front-wheel driven like the Mirai, Mr. Tanaka said that there are other options.
“So we can place two hydrogen tanks to the rear of the vehicle, between the axles. But if we can come up with a different layout of the stack, motor and tank, we could have rear drive (too).”
Association of the crossover/SUV segment with fuel cell technology isn’t anything new for Toyota. In fact, the first-ever Toyota fuel cell concept car was the Toyota FCEV-1. Unveiled in 1996, the concept was based on the first generation Toyota RAV-4. It was followed by the Toyota FCEV-2 concept in 1997. Later on, the first generation Toyota Highlander spawned the Toyota FCHV-3, Toyota FCHV-4, Toyota FCHV-5 and Toyota FCHV-adv concepts.
Mr. Tanaka said that a coupe was “an option as well”, for the future fuel cell vehicles, but when asked about the Toyota 86 being that such one, he denied the possibility because of the large cylindrical tanks required to be fitted in.
“For the time being we have to live with the very fat cylindrical tanks,” he said. “And right now we cannot install a fuel stack into the 86.”