Toyota is readying its 2015 FCV fuel cell vehicle for an April launch next year in Japan with a price of about $70,000, followed quickly by sales of the hydrogen-fueled electric vehicle in California and Europe by the following summer.

Company officials promised that the 2015 Toyota FCV will have a 300-mile range on a single 5-minute fill up of hydrogen and said the electric-drive, midsize, four-door sedan won't require customers to compromise on safety, price or performance. While no prices for the U.S. version have been announced, the $70,000 Japanese price tag is competitive with the 2014 Tesla Model S battery electric vehicle.

Betting on hydrogen

In addition to unveiling the car in Tokyo, Toyota also displayed the vehicle at the Aspen Ideas Festival held annually at this Colorado ski resort. "Our society is on the cusp of a revolution of personal mobility," said Osamu Nagata, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing, who was at the festival. 

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Toyota, which recently ended its relationship with Tesla in producing battery electric RAV4 models, is backing its significant bet on fuel cell technology by investing in FirstElement Fuels to support the long-term operation and maintenance of 19 new hydrogen fueling facilities in California. 

Advanced design

Production FCV styling is similar to that of the concept, with flowing character lines that designers say mimic the flowing nature of water, which is the only emission from fuel cell technology. In addition to gaping inlets flanking a low grille, the hood has the appearance of floating about the front fenders. Darkly tinted flush glass that wraps around the rear of the greenhouse also adds to the look of the roof hovering over the car.

Riding on a new platform dedicated to fuel cell technology, the FCV is equipped with two high pressure hydrogen tanks. Toyota expects global sales of between 5,000 and 10,000 units. The first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to hit the California market is the Hyundai Tucson this summer, while both the FCV and Honda's entry will bow next year. 

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