Toyota Says Fuel-Cell Hybrid a Success

John Davis

Toyota Highlander Fuel Cell HybridThe trek from Fairbanks to Vancouver along the Alaska Highway is more than 2,300 miles long. Toyota says its Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle not only logged all those miles in seven days, but it averaged well-above 300 miles per tank.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A, Inc., revealed a significant achievement in its ongoing hydrogen-hybrid fuel cell development program at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show. A recent 2,300 mile trek in a Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV) from Fairbanks, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia along the Alaska-Canadian (ALCAN) highway confirmed substantial progress in reliability and durability, cold-weather operation and extended range capability of Toyota’s hybrid fuel cell system.

“Beyond the single-tank range capability, this new system was developed to deal with two major challenges to the refinement of fuel-cell power-trains. That is, starting and operating in cold temperatures and standing up to the vibration and harshness of rough road conditions … over a long distance … over a long time,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager.

“Equally important, was to show how the development of Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell powertrains continue to move forward and mature at an impressive pace, far in advance of an infrastructure that will be necessary to support them,” Carter said.

To add a sense of risk and adventure, Toyota engineers planned to accomplish the feat with no practice runs and no pre-trip evaluations. Just get in the Highlander FCHV and drive. If they made it to Vancouver, great; if not, it would be chalked up to research and development.

Toyota adds that the company just began shipping the second-generation Highlander Hybrid mid-size SUV to dealerships, nationwide. The new Highlander Hybrid will the latest addition to Toyota´s hybrid line-up, which includes the Camry Hybrid and Prius Hybrid. Toyota says its hybrid products account for more than a quarter million hybrid sales for 2007 and more than 275,000 total hybrid sales for Calendar 2008.

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