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Lexus plans for fuel cell car

By raccars Published

Toyota Mirai

Lexus follows Toyota and will reveal its own premium fuel cell car in the next four years.

The head of Lexus Europe has revealed that the brand is planning a luxury hydrogen fuel cell car which should be available to buy within the next four years. The model, which is on course for a launch by 2020, would follow on from the Toyota Mirai which became one of the planet’s first fuel cell cars to enter the market.

Alain Uyttenhoven said that Lexus is working on the adaptation of hydrogen-fuelled technology which was developed by Toyota, the brand’s parent company. He added that there are now just a small number of hurdles to overcome before the firm’s plans of offering a luxurious, high performance fuel cell car worthy of the Lexus badge become a reality.

Lexus levels of performance

Uyttenhoven said that the company is working on packaging the technology to fit into a normal car. This can be achieved with an SUV, he said, but the challenge is to ensure that the company can produce a performance level that is fitting for a premium vehicle.

This detail suggests that Lexus is looking to deliver a significant boost in power compared with the Mirai. The Toyota’s electric motors can produce 152bhp and the car can achieve a maximum speed of 111mph and a zero to 62mph sprint in 9.6 seconds.

It is not clear as to what level of performance Lexus is hoping to achieve from its hydrogen fuel cell car but, if its latest RX450h is used as a benchmark, it is likely to need to be close to the 300bhp mark. The Lexus RX450h produces 308bhp, has a top speed of 124mph and can go from a standing start to 62mph in 7.7 seconds.

Uyttenhoven believes that Lexus will reach its fleet CO2 emissions targets using hydrogen fuel cell and other technology. He said that by 2021 the company would reach its 95g/km target without plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Understanding hydrogen fuel cell technology

Fuel cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy, heat and water and in most of today’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, a high-power cell is combined with a motor to replace the traditional internal combustion engine.

Like electric vehicles, FCEVs, or fuel cell electric vehicles, are said to be ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) as the exhausts emit nothing but water vapour.

Most FCEVs have a battery to store energy temporarily, making them similar to PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles). In the former, however, the fuel cell replaces the small combustion unit found in PHEVs.

The Toyota Mirai

The word Mirai means ‘future’ in Japanese and it was certainly seen as a glimpse of the future when it was originally unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2014. It was first sold in Japan on December 15, 2014.

The Toyota Mirai evolved from the Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) concept that was shown off at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2013. This concept car was memorably bright blue and shaped to look like a water droplet to symbolise the fact that water is the only substance to be emitted from hydrogen-powered cars.

A world first

The first ever commercially-available, mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell car was the Hyundai ix35 FCEV, which went on sale in the UK last year for a starting price of £53,105 with a government incentive of £15,000.

The Government’s ‘HyFive’ incentive was aimed at getting 110 hydrogen vehicles onto European roads. The HyFive project was also behind the plan to provide three more refuelling stations in London, creating a total of five for public use.

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