Japan’s Big Three automakers began July with a big announcement — Toyota, Nissan, and Honda will work together to spread hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and charging stations.
Although the automakers compete among themselves, in a joint announcement on July 1 they said they will work together to invest in the necessary infrastructure needed to promote the technology, both in Japan and here in the U.S.
“In addition to partially covering the operating costs of hydrogen stations, the three automakers have also agreed to help infrastructure companies deliver the best possible customer service and create a convenient, hassle-free refueling network for owners of fuel cell vehicles,” the companies wrote in a joint statement.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) use compressed hydrogen gas and oxygen from the air to generate electricity and power an electric motor. The gasses are drawn through an electrolyte, and instead of producing harmful greenhouse gasses, the only emissions FCVs produce is water vapor.
In the U.S., California is leading the way in spreading this new technology; 28 FCV fueling stations are expected to be built in California by 2016. During the July 1 announcement, the executives also announced they would partner with Air Liquide to build stations in the U.S. Northeast, including some in New York State. They also plan to invest in the technology’s spread throughout Japan.
According to the press release, the automakers hope that FCV technology will be available worldwide by 2020. Although falling fuel prices and improved fuel efficiency standards on gasoline vehicles have led to a slowdown in hybrid sales, experts expect the market for green cars to continue to grow. In 2012, 2.1 million hybrid cars were sold to U.S. drivers, while 4.5 million were sold around the world.
In addition to hybrid cars, luxury automakers like Tesla have been improving the technology for electric batteries for cars, and Porsche recently set a speed record using an electric roadster.
Although FCVs are little known in the States, the Japanese government is investing heavily to promote awareness of the technology.