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The future is hydrogen: how the big guns are shaping the fuel cells of tomorrow


Toyota FCV

Toyota FCV

Toyota FCV

IT'S all about fuel cells this week as far as three big names are concerned. Toyota, BMW and Honda each have developments on that front.

Toyota will call their new hydrogen car the Mirai (which means 'future' in Japanese).

And the automotive giant claims the hydrogen can be "made from virtually anything, even garbage".

Officially unveiled yesterday, it is claimed to have the cruising range of an ordinary saloon (480km), can be refuelled in under five minutes and emits only water vapour.

They reckon the fuel cell creates enough electricity to power a house for about a week.

They also claim that it is a drynamic driver -something that hasn't been been a notable attribute of other fuel cells I've driven.

Mirai has been tested over 'millions of miles' and for 10 years in extremes of cold and heat, Toyota says.

Meanwhile BMW is to use a special version of Toyota's FCV hydrogen-electric fuel cell system in an i-brand model.

That would be the first step of a BMW-Toyota joint venture designed to cut development costs. Another part of the deal is a rear-wheel drive sports-car platform which is understood to be well up and running.

BMW see having a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car as important in terms of its profile and wants it to compete with the likes of Mercedes which is planning one for 2017.

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Meanwhile Honda has reworked its next-generation fuel cell vehicle concept - it is expected to go on sale in Japan but will come to Europe at a later date.

Fuel cell technology combines hydrogen with oxygen in the air to generate electricity.

Water vapour and heat are the only emissions. However, progress until recently had been hampered by high costs and lack of infrastructure.

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