Toyota has an undeniable vested interest in seeing its hydrogen sedan succeed when it goes on sale in the US next year, so it's no surprise that the company's North American CEO, Jim Lentz, says that he's got more hope for the car now than ever before. And if we remember ways that others in the company, like Bob Carter, have loudly sung hydrogen's praises, we have to assume that positivity is running awful high in Torrance. In fact, Lentz said that the US side of the company is far more excited by the H2 car than colleagues in Japan.
Speaking at The Wall Street Journal's ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara, CA this week, Lentz said:
Well, we've driven this car, and we still feel that Toyota is placing a big bet on the technology. One important issue is cost, but Lentz would not say exactly how much the car costs to make or what it will be priced at. He did say, though, that the production cost has dropped by 95 percent from the $1 million price tag the car wore ten years ago. That hints at a production cost of around $50,000. Lentz also said he thinks it will take at least a decade for hydrogen vehicles to hit sales of 500,000 per year in the US. Speaking to Bloomberg, he said:
After we've seen the product, understand its range, its driving dynamics, its refueling, we're a lot more bullish than Japan - probably about fivefold more bullish. It's just a question of how many can be produced now.
Their acceptance could get off to a quicker start than the hybrids did. I think you're going to see a lot more marketing of the concept of fuel cell much sooner than you did for hybrids, because basically the whole industry is behind it.