I’ve never felt comfortable driving a Toyota and I find their flagship Camry to be the boringest car on the market but I’ve never underestimated their engineering or their vision. They were right there with both with the Prius and they have steadily eroded market share from GM until they stand as the largest car company in the world. You don’t do that without guiding the consumer to where the consumer really wants to go but doesn’t know it yet. Toyota is great at this.
So when Toyota starts bringing new technology into the marketplace it is time to sit up and take notice. Fuel cell cars have been talked about for years but almost everyone seems to think that hydrogen is the fuel of the future not of the present. Akio Toyoda thinks different.
Volkswagen (VOW:GR) CEO Martin Winterkorn, Nissan Motor boss Carlos Ghosn, and Tesla Motors (TSLA) founder Elon Musk all question the economic viability, environmental credentials, and safety of Toyota’s fuel cells. One could also ask why Toyota, which does well with its hybrids and plug-in electrics, is bothering with a commercially unproven technology that may undermine a core franchise. Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor’s (TM) president and the scion of the automaker’s founding family, says there’s room for both plug-in electrics and hydrogen cars; he dismisses doubters. “Fifteen years ago they said the same thing about the Prius,” he says. “Since then, if you consider all [our] hybrid brands, we have sold 7 million of them.”
I’m going to be watching this development.