Big in Japan: Highlights from the Tokyo Motor Show

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Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride Concept
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Image via Toyota4/10

Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride Concept

Here’s a concept that’s less about the package and more about what it contains. The hydrogen powertrain is something Toyota’s leading on, with the Mirai sedan that’s been on sale in the U.S. for a few years. True, there aren’t a lot of them on roads yet, but you could’ve said the same thing about the Prius a few decades ago, and with Mercedes-Benz now pushing hydrogen with its F-Cell that showed in Tokyo (and prior to that, in Frankfurt in September), carmakers are seriously considering the potential of hydrogen at least as part of their future fuels mix. 

As with electric cars, the key with hydrogen is all about packaging. So the Fine-Comfort concept is shown as a six-passenger pod with its fuel cells in the floor and the wheels and nose and tail pushed right to the edge of the car, because you don’t need to make as much room for an electric drivetrain powered by hydrogen (here, the motors are incorporated into all four wheels). 

Toyota also says a hydrogen drivetrain at this scale would have 600 miles of range and could be refueled in just three minutes. The rub: Hydrogen fueling stations aren’t broadly distributed enough yet, and as we saw with fast electric chargers, creating the infrastructure is very much a chicken-or-egg.

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