Toyota recently unveiled their new Highlander SUV that is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. The company is well known for its work in making alternative energy a priority, as is evidenced in the ever-popular Prius. Confronted with decisions from competitors to release hydrogen-powered vehicles in 2013, Toyota has made a bold decision to hold off on launching their fuel cell car until 2015. The decision comes from uncertainty surrounding the establishment of a hydrogen fuel infrastructure and whether consumers will take to the notion of using the fuel.
The automaker has been struggling to bring down the cost of their fuel cells for some time. Hydrogen fuel cells are notorious for their expense, as they make use of valuable materials and components. The cost associated with fuel cells is one of the primary reasons they have not yet reached the commercial market, as few consumers would be able to afford vehicles powered by such technology. Toyota has successfully lowered the cost of the SUV twice, with the most recent reduction bringing the cost of the vehicle to $50,000.
In the nine years that Toyota has been developing its fuel cell technology, it would seem that the company has not been able to settle on a single design. Their fuel cells have undergone constant, and sometimes dramatic, changes for the sake of efficiency and affordability. Some changes were worse than others, making the fuel cells less durable or less powerful, but the company seems to have found a balance with their latest unit.