Toyota has revealed the final design for its new Fuel Cell Sedan. It's a 'Ronseal', does-what-it-says-on-the-tin choice of name for the car: it is, indeed, Toyota's hydrogen fuel-cell-powered saloon - and this one is coming to a showroom near you sooner than you think.
The H2 car may blend concept car cues with Japanese global design blandness, but the Fuel Cell Sedan is significant as much for the numbers involved as the futuristic look.
Toyota today confirmed this car will be launched by April 2015 in Japan, and in summer 2015 in Europe and the US. That's next summer. A full, hyrdogen-powered production car.
Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan: the lowdown
The company announced indicative domestic pricing of around seven million yen; call it around £40,450 at today's exchange rates. That's the likely Japanese price - the cost in Europe and North America will be confirmed at a later date.
The Fuel Cell Sedan was first shown as a concept car at the 2013 Tokyo motor show and today's announcement is further proof, were it needed, of Toyota's ambition to launch a commercially viable fuel-cell product at scale before its rivals.
We may scoff at the dire provision of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure today, but it's hard not to recall Toyota's bold commitment to hybrid cars back in the 1990s - and look where that trend has gone today.
It's telling that Toyota will initially launch the Fuel Cell Sedan only in areas of Japan which support H2 refuelling. Today, there's only a single public hydrogen refuelling centre in the UK near London's Heathrow airport. And that's not much good if you live in Aberdeen or Exeter.
Toyota's environmental mission
One line stands out in today's announcement. 'Toyota’s commitment to developing vehicles that are kinder to the environment is based on three principles: embracing diverse energy sources; securing low vehicle emissions; and driving positive environmental change by making these vehicles popular with customers.' There, in a nutshell, is the mission statement for Toyota's disparate green technologies.
The Fuel Cell Sedan uses a Toyota hydrogen stack, developed in the real world through a Japan and US trial of the FCHV crossover since 2002.
Refuelling now takes three minutes, says Toyota, and it claims performance and driving characteristics comparable to a petrol-engined saloon of the same size.
Karl Schlicht, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Europe, said: 'There are many challenges ahead, such as the availability of fuelling infrastructure and customer awareness. But our history with hybrid gives us all the experience we need to bring a new technology to the market.
'In Europe we will be taking it step by step, gradually introducing the car in selected markets. But we are confident that hydrogen will become increasingly popular as a way of powering vehicles.'
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