PHOTO CAPTION: Toyota's Highlander FCEV-adv similar to that driven by the author.

I Get to Drive Toyota's Highlander Fuel Cell SUV

Washington Post's Brian Fung takes Toyota's Highlander FCEV for drive around the DC area and reports what the experience was like.

Published: 25-Jan-2014

The first thing you notice about Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell SUV is that you hardly feel like you're driving. It's more like you're floating. When the engine kicks in, you don't get the jolt that you do with a car that runs on gasoline. It's not even like a typical hybrid, which starts you off on battery power before handing you off to the fossil-fuel engine.

Instead, the converted Highlander I drove to my dentist Friday morning was a hybrid of a different kind. A nickel-metal hydride battery still got the car moving from a standstill, but where an ordinary engine would sit under the hood, burning up dead dinosaurs, was an electric motor hooked up to four tanks holding 5 kilos of hydrogen gas.

Unlike with ordinary cars, the fuel isn't burned. It's passed through a membrane that turns the hydrogen gas into water — a process that draws on outside air to create electricity for the engine. Fuel cell technology sounds like science fiction. But it's coming very soon to the mass market: Hyundai has plans to introduce a commercial fuel cell vehicle as early as this year, and Toyota will debut its hydrogen-powered car in 2015.


Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell fuel cell sedan production will now be delayed until 2017.

Speculation is that delay decision based on lack of hydrogen refueling infrastructure, though system costs are likely an equally important justification.

Ford Motor Co. 999 fuel cell sets speed record at Wendover, Utah of 207.279 mph.

The collaboration expected to lead the launch of world’s first affordable, mass market fuel cell electric vehicles as early as 2017.

Chevrolet Equinox, one of 100 powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Bob Lutz predicts that 'unless something close to magic happens,' fuel-cells vehicles will forever be expensive 'wall flowers.'


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