How to buy a classic motorcycle in SA?

'There are a few things you need to consider,’ writes bike guru Dries Van der Walt.

Top family cars in SA

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post has gone from a 'SpeedQueen' to a supermom. Check out her list of top family cars.

Toyota: Top 10 fuel cell myths busted

2014-08-07 09:56

TOYOTA FCV VS. TESLA MODEL S: According to Toyota, its FCV has the Tesla Model S beat both in terms of range (482km to 334km) and recharge time (3mins compared to 1 hour). Image: Toyota

In July 2014, Wheels24 reported that Toyota will sell its first fuel-cell powered vehicle (the FCV), Japan from March 2015 for the equivalent of R745 000, less than analysts’ expectations of R1-million.

The sedans will also be sold in USA and Europe.

Toyota said: "Hydrogen is a particularly promising alternative fuel since it can be produced using a wide variety of primary energy sources, including solar and wind."


The FCV sedan will pioneer its new technology. Its 700 Bar hydrogen tank holds 156 litres for a potential range of 830km.

Ahead of its official launch, Toyota decided to tackle what it calls "myths" about it fuel-cell powered vehicles.

The automaker released its top 10 fuel cell myths below:

Myth 1: Fuel Cell vehicles burn hydrogen

Toyota reports: "Fuel cells don't burn hydrogen - they use an electrochemical process to convert hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen into electricity and water. They have no moving parts and no open flames."

Myth 2: Fuel Cell vehicles are expensive

Early FCV concepts cost more than the equivalent of R10-million to create, how has Toyota reduced production costs to make its FCV viable?

Toyota responds: "This used to be true; a prototype 2007 Toyota FCV reportedly cost more than R10-million to build. Advances in fuel cell manufacturing and catalyst performance have led to a dramatic cost decrease. According to the US Department of Energy, fuel cells will cost R321-R536/kw-hr of output by 2017, depending on production volume.

"To put this number in perspective, Tesla battery packs are estimated to cost over R2145 per kw-hr of output  and may fall to R1502-R1877 per kw-hr by 2017. In all likelihood, fuel cell vehicles will cost less than battery electric vehicles by the end of the decade (barring some major decrease in battery costs, of course)."

Myth 3: Hydrogen is too expensive compared to petrol/diesel

What are the claimed costs of using hydrogen in comparison to battery and fossil-fuel powered vehicles?

"A gallon (the equivalent of 3.7 litres) of petrol costs about R37.55, and that will take a new Prius about 80km, resulting in a fuel cost the equivalent of R0.75 per 1.6km." A kilogram of hydrogen gas generated via wind powered electrolysis will cost R53- R64, according to research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

"Upcoming fuel cell vehicles from Toyota and Hyundai will be able to travel more than 112km per kilogram of hydrogen. That's a fuel cost of R0.7 - R0.9 per 1.6km and that's for "green" hydrogen produced from renewable power. Hydrogen reformed from natural gas will cost half this amount.

"So, while "green" hydrogen is more expensive than petrol the difference is pretty small. What's more, petrol production and delivery is an established technology. There's every reason to believe green hydrogen production costs will fall as FCVs become more common (and, we'll have affordable hydrogen from reformed natural gas in the short term)."

Myth 4: Hydrogen storage tanks are dangerous

"Some people believe that the high pressure hydrogen fuel tanks used in FCVs are too dangerous for everyday use. Vehicles with high pressure gas storage tanks are nothing new.

Most vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) have them. What's more, Toyota's new FCV will feature a carbon-fibred hydrogen storage tank that can withstand a shot from a .50 calibre military sniper rifle."

Myth 5 Fuel Cell Vehicles use liquefied hydrogen

"None of the upcoming fuel cell vehicles (or existing hydrogen fueling stations) use liquified hydrogen. If fuel cell vehicles used liquid hydrogen, it would be very wasteful, as cooling hydrogen down to liquid form would require a great deal of energy but that doesn't apply here."

Myth 6: Hydrogen Fueling systems are dangerous

Toyota claims: "Some believe hydrogen fueling systems are dangerous and/or unproven technology. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"The technology used to refill hydrogen-powered vehicles is essentially the same as technology that's used to refill vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG).

"Currently, there are more than 16 million vehicles worldwide powered by CNG using pressurised systems without incident."

Myth 7: Hydrogen fuel stations are too expensive to build

Toyota said: "The estimated cost of building a hydrogen filling station can range from R32-million to R53-million, according to a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Toyota comments: "While that's definitely a lot of money, a standard filling station costs about R21-million to construct (according to the same NREL report).

"Hydrogen filling stations are definitely more costly but the cost difference isn't prohibitive. What's more, a consortium of public entities and private companies are providing gas station owners with funds to help defray these costs."

Myth 8: Hydrogen can only be produced by reforming natural gas

Toyota said: "Steam reformation is the most common method used to produce hydrogen today, but it isn't the only viable method of hydrogen production.

"The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has a functioning wind-powered hydrogen filling station in Boulder, Colorado that uses wind power to create hydrogen via electrolysis. German energy giant Linde will begin producing hydrogen at commercial scale via wind power by 2015.

"There are also solar panels in the research and testing phase that can break water down into hydrogen and oxygen via photoelectric synthesis and do so at extraordinary efficiency levels."

"While existing renewable alternatives to steam reformed hydrogen are more costly, and new methods of creating hydrogen from solar power require more research to become commercially viable, it's not reasonable to say that hydrogen can only come from natural gas."

Myth 9: Battery cars are better than FCVs

Battery electric vehicles have a low operating cost in comparison to fossil-fuel powered vehicles and they plug-in to an existing energy grid. How will FCVs compete?

Toyota said: "These are big positives however, EVs can't be refueled in three minutes and (as of now) can't go 300km between refuels. EVs aren't really feasible for use in bakkies and SUVs, at least not without serious compromises in tow and payload capacities and/or driving range.

"FCVs have long range, fast refueling, and could easily be used in trucks or SUVs without sacrificing payload or tow capacity. While battery electric vehicles have a lot of positives, it's a mistake to assume that they're obviously better than fuel cell vehicles. It's simply too early to declare a 'winner' in the battery vs fuel cell debate.

Myth 10: Fuel Cells are 'BS'

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said: "There are lots of people who say electric cars are never going to happen, and that we should just burn hydrocarbons forever. "And then they'll say certain technologies like fuel cell, and it's like, oh god, fuel cell is so b******t."

"They don't really believe it. It's like a marketing thing."

Is there any truth to Musk's quip that fuel cells are 'so BS'?

Toyota responds: "Considering Musk's reputation as an innovator and his success with Tesla, many people have taken this comment at face value.

"However, in light of FCV range and refueling ease, and Musk's personal investment in battery electric vehicle technology, it would be a mistake to accept his criticism of fuel cells without skepticism."

Read more on:    toyota  |  technology

Inside Wheels24

Opel Astra 1.4T Enjoy auto – understated and smart new hatch

When it comes to the mid-size hatchback choice, there are a few default choices, a few bland ones… and some often overlooked cars. The Opel Astra hatch is an example of the latter, writes David Swanepoel. - Sponsored

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.