Fuel cell vehicles are the future, and it’s time we all got used to the idea. Hydrogen – abundantly available and increasingly produced using wind and solar power rather than natural gas – goes in, and nothing but water vapor comes out. Clean, green, and a futuristic machine, the 2016 Toyota Mirai is a fuel cell vehicle representing the culmination of 20 years of research, engineering, and testing, and it goes on sale in about a year. Toyota expects to sell 3,000 of them to U.S. customers by the end of 2017.
Employing an appropriate metaphor, that’s barely a drop in the bucket in terms of overall market sales. But it is also more ambitious than what other automakers exploring fuel cell technology have either achieved or have announced (as this is written), and while it is fair to say that a fledgling infrastructure now appears to be the greatest obstacle to broader acceptance and appeal of fuel cell vehicles, price may still represent a significant hurdle, both in terms of development costs to car companies and in terms of what consumers are going to pay to drive a fuel cell vehicle