Toyota Continues to Run Away From Electric Vehicles

Toyota has a decisive strategy in place in terms of alternative power trains. Rather than focusing on all-electric vehicles, the company continues to focus on hydrogen fuel cells.

At the Los Angeles auto show, Toyota executives planned to elaborate on the company’s deepening investments in fuel-cell vehicles, after a weekend announcement that it would begin selling next year a model called “Mirai” — Japanese for “future” — that will travel 300 miles on a hydrogen tank and can be refilled in less than five minutes. The car, Toyota has said previously, will go on sale in Japan in April for about $60,000 and be introduced in the U.S. and Europe a few months later.

The company’s embrace of fuel cells reminds some observers of other significant moments of commitment for Toyota over the decades, including in 1989 when it launched the Lexus luxury brand in the United States and in 1997, when it started selling Prius gasoline-electric hybrids. Both moves redefined the American auto industry in different ways.Toyota-Fuel-Cell-Vehicle-edited

Now Toyota is bidding again to set the pace with fuel cells. Honda is right there with its Japanese rival, just now unveiling a near-production concept of a fuel-cell vehicle with space for five passengers, instead of four as in Honda’s previous-generation fuel-cell car. Honda plans to launch it in Europe, the U.S. and Japan in 2016, Automotive News reported. Other automakers including General Motors GM +0.45% have demonstration fuel cells too. Meanwhile, leading global powertrain supplier Bosch has predicted that falling costs will make fuel-cell technology commercially viable for mass-car production by 2025.

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