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Toyota: Fuel cells, yes; diesels, no

A Toyota Highlander fuel-cell test in 2008 achieved an estimated range of 431 miles. (Toyota Motor Sales USA photo)
Sept. 6, 2013, 3:50 p.m.

By Jenny King, Special to the Chicago Tribune

DETROIT — A gas-electric hybrid system is essential to Toyota’s future product plans. But the automaker also plans to introduce a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle in 2015, and will continue to explore pure electric power as well.

“Toyota is not giving up on pure electric vehicles,” U.S. operations chief Bob Carver this week told members of the Automotive Press Association. “We believe they do have a role to play in the future as soon as battery and charging technologies significantly improve.”

Carter cites the company’s work with solid-state and lithium-air batteries, as well as chemistry “beyond lithium” employing such elements as magnesium.

Toyota fuel-cell vehicles will be available in select markets in 2015, “or maybe by late 2014,” he said. Infrastructure is also the challenge with hydrogen power: Carter said there are some 38 Los Angeles area sites to serve fuel-cell vehicles.

With 12 Toyota and Lexus nameplates presently on its hybrids roster, Toyota sees gas-electrics as “our core technology.”
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