Expect the first 300 horsepower model to hit dealerships in 2020.
While the majority of the auto market is looking towards batteries and electric motors to carry them into a gasoline-free future, Toyota is doing things a bit differently. The Japanese automaker seems to feel that battery technology will never evolve to the point where it can charge fast enough to be as convenient as a gasoline vehicle, so instead Toyota is dumping its R&D budget into the hydrogen fuel cell. According to Auto Express, Lexus, Toyota’s luxury offshoot, will be following the same route.
In a recent interview with the head of Lexus Europe Alain Uyttenhoven, Auto Express learned that the automaker is well on its way towards infusing the first element on the periodic table into its luxury SUVs and sedans. Apparently the company is very close to succeeding but has a handful of hurdles to clear. “The problem is packaging the technology into a normal sized car," said Uyttenhoven. "It will fit into an SUV. We just need to get the right level of performance for a premium car.” The roadblocks for Lexus aren’t expected to take too long to clear. By 2020, the automaker expects to bring the technology to market despite an overall lack of a hydrogen infrastructure in the US and EU. Still, that doesn’t mean that Toyota hasn’t had success before.
The Toyota Mirai is one of the first available hydrogen cars and is sold in the US, Germany, Belgium, Norway, the UK, and Denmark. While Toyota has proven that it can package a hydrogen fuel cell and electric motors into a sedan-size package with the Mirai, the car comes with a host of compromises that render it unappetizing for the average car buyer including a lack of power and a fueling infrastructure. The Lexus RX450h will be the benchmark for future Lexus hydrogen vehicles meaning that 300 horsepower will be the sought after power delivery, nearly double what the Toyota Mirai can deliver. This is a huge gamble but also one that most other automakers aren’t making, so if Toyota gets it right, the payoff could be huge.