TOYOTA, Japan — At a car factory in this city named after Toyota, the usual robots with their swinging arms are missing. Instead, workers intently fit parts into place by hand with craftsmanship-like care.
The big moment on the assembly line comes when two bulbous yellow tanks of hydrogen are rolled over and delicately fitted into each car’s underside.
While much of the world is going gung-ho for electric vehicles to help get rid of auto emissions and end reliance on fossil fuels, Japan’s top automaker Toyota Motor Corp. is banking on hydrogen.
Toyota sells about 10 million vehicles a year around the world. It has sold only about 4,000 Mirai fuel cell vehicles since late 2014, roughly half of them outside Japan.
The Mirai, which means “future,” is not cheap at $57,500, but Toyota loses money on each one. Still, the company’s goal is to sell 30,000 fuel-cell vehicles a year by about 2020.
Hydrogen fuel cells don’t suffer the EVs’ main drawback of limited range. The Tesla Model S can go about 300 miles (480 kilometers) on a single charge, although that varies depending on driving conditions, and that’s quite a distance for an EV.
Read more here.