Toyota bets on the success of hydrogen fuel cellsMay 19, 2014
Toyota to allow deal with Tesla Motors to expire this year
It is no secret that Toyota has a vested interest in fuel cell technology. The Japanese automaker has plans to commercially launch its first fuel cell vehicle next year and has been investing in the development of a working hydrogen fuel infrastructure in many parts of the world. For years, however, Toyota has had a deal with Tesla Motors. Toyota had invested $50 million in Tesla in 2010 and had signed a $100 million joint-development agreement with the company in 2011. The deal had to do with the development of the RAV 4 electric vehicle, which sold poorly throughout the world.
Toyota to put more focus on fuel cells
Toyota has announced that it will let its deal with Tesla Motors expire this year. The Japanese automaker will focus more heavily on fuel cells, suggesting that Toyota has more hope in fuel cell vehicles than battery electric vehicles. Toyota has stated that it wants to re-evaluate the future of the RAV 4 and determine whether or not this vehicle can be salvaged from its poor market performance. Toyota may opt to revive the vehicle as a fuel cell model at some point in the future.
Tesla continues to show strong faith in battery technology
The expiration of the deal with Toyota is not a surprise to Tesla Motors. The company noted that it expected the deal to expire at the end of this year, also noting that Toyota has expressed a strong belief that the future of clean transportation lies in hydrogen fuel cells. Tesla founder Elon Musk has been somewhat vocal with his relative disinterest in fuel cells. Appropriately, Musk believes that clean transportation can be accomplished through the use of battery technology.
Fuel cell vehicles may never find success without infrastructure support
Toyota is only one among several automakers that plans to release a hydrogen-powered vehicle in 2015 and beyond. Currently, fuel cell technology is not necessarily a problematic issue when it comes to clean transportation. The real problem is the lack of a sufficient fuel infrastructure that is able to support the commercialization of these vehicles. If the infrastructure issue is not resolved, fuel cell vehicles may not find much success.