Toyota is betting more and more on hydrogen cars, a position opposed to that of its neighbor Honda.
In the automotive world, whether in competition or in business, a manufacturer’s worst enemy is often its neighbour. A theory that has just been demonstrated by the example of Toyota and Honda, two flourishing Japanese firms, which have a hand in the vehicle market in the country. But the two Japanese giants, historical rivals, have still not reconciled.
During a recent interview, it was Honda boss Toshihiro Mibe who subtly threw a small spade at his neighbor. Indeed, Mibe explained that he did not see how hydrogen cars could come to offer a solution in the next few years, while electric seems to be the ready-made transition to get out of carbon models.
Hydrogen or electricity: what are the differences?
To fully understand why Honda and Toyota are so at odds over how to see the car of tomorrow, it’s important to fully understand how the two systems work. Indeed, a hydrogen car, or more precisely a “fuel cell” car, works with an electric motor.
The main difference is that the latter is not powered by a battery, but by hydrogen. The latter crosses the pile, where it will be decomposed to provide an electric current. Once the power is produced, the car can move forward and it releases water vapor, the result of the consumption of hydrogen and oxygen in the cell.
Although this method is still very experimental, hydrogen has several major advantages. The first is autonomy. The Toyota Mirai is thus capable of covering more than 600 kilometers on a full tank. That’s as much as the best electric cars. But the other advantage comes when you have to refuel. Indeed, recharging an electric car takes time, far too long, and it is a real obstacle for buyers.
With a hydrogen car, the latter is then able to refuel in an instant, like a gasoline car, or even faster.
Hydrogen, not useful for every day?
A vision of the evolution of the market not so surprising, when we know that the vast majority of manufacturers today have chosen to turn to electric, and even legendary companies such as Ford, Porsche or Lamborghini have embraced the blue fairy and its ecological benefits.
But while everyone is turning to electric, Toyota acts as a rebel in the automotive world. The Japanese manufacturer is indeed relying heavily on hydrogen as the next propulsion energy for its cars. An idea that few people openly defend, but which could be a real gamble if this technology were to become more efficient than electricity, as the firm likes to announce.
Electricity: the security solution?
A very risky bet, even too much according to Mibe, which ensures that hydrogen has no use in daily mobility and according to the model of an individual car. Far from rejecting the idea of making hydrogen vehicles, Mibe explains that this energy can be useful, especially for larger vehicles, whose electricity consumption is far too high.
The hydrogen solution is thus very interesting in the world of aeronautics where it is closely studied. It is also possible to see hydrogen vehicles on the road, in several cities in France. This is particularly the case in Pau, where a special bus line crosses the city thanks to a hydrogen fuel cell.