Toyota Teams Up With Chinese Companies To Develop Fuel Cells

March 18th, 2024 by

Toyota Motor Corporation is partnering with five other companies, all from China, to develop fuel cells which will be placed in commercial vehicles. This step could provide a major boost for Toyota in the alternate energy source market.

The other partners involved in this deal include the following:

  • China FAW Corp
  • Dongfeng Motor Corp
  • Beijing Automobile Group Co
  • Guangzhou Automobile Group Co
  • Beijing SinoHytec Co

Collectively, the group will be known as United Fuel Cell System R&D with Toyota owning 65 percent. The initial investment is worth $46 million.

Toyota has supported fuel cell technology for automakers with the hope that they can become a main source of energy that is equal to or better than batteries. Right now, the focus is on commercial vehicles, like trucks and buses.

The goal for this project is to develop fuel cells that are lower in cost and improve fuel efficiency and performance. All six companies have ties to automakers, such as Honda Motor Company, Guangzhou Auto and Daimler AG.

Even though fuel cells allow vehicles to refuel more quickly and go long distances, they haven’t become popular because of the expense associated with these systems. Hydrogen costs more than other fuels for transport.

The Growth Of Fuel Cells

The Chinese government wants to see at least one million of these vehicles on highways within the next decade. Toyota claims that the market for fuel-cell vehicles is growing faster in China than anywhere else in the world. Even with these plans, the number of vehicles using fuel cells that will be on the road in the next year is expected to be just 5,000 units. This number includes both passenger vehicles and commercial models.

Many companies are planning to invest in fuel cell technology with $17 billion worth of investments announced for development by 2023. One of the biggest investments comes from China National Heavy Duty Truck Group with a plan to manufacture fuel-cell vehicles on the east coast to the tune of $7.5 billion.

Toyota can add a lot to this technology as the leader in efficiency. Toyota hybrid systems are often well ahead of the competition, allowing the company to capture the attention of all kinds of drivers. If the company can make fuel cells more affordable, it can lead the way to more efficient commercial vehicles, which may translate into passenger models in the future.

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