Toyota moves to expand mass-production of fuel-cell stacks and hydrogen tanks
Toyota sees global sales of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) increasing significantly after 2020, to at least 30,000 per year from today's 3000. To prepare for this growth, the company unveiled plans for two major new facilities: a new building near its original automobile factory for expanding fuel-cell (FC) stack mass production and a new line in an existing plant to manufacture high-pressure hydrogen tanks. The FC stack is what generates the on-board electricity from hydrogen and oxygen, which propel FCEVs with zero emissions, and the tanks store the hydrogen fuel. Manufacturing both components at scale is critical to achieving lower system costs and wider availability for further growth and sales of FCEVs.
To increase FC stack output, Toyota will move production from its current location, within one of the existing buildings at its Honsha Plant in Toyota City, to a new, eight-floor high-tech facility on the same premises, near the original site of the company's first automobile factory in 1938.
The production of high-pressure hydrogen tanks will be handled by a new, dedicated line to be added inside the nearby Shimoyama Plant (No. 3) in Miyoshi City (Aichi Prefecture). Previously, the hydrogen tanks were assembled at the Honsha plant on a smaller scale.
Construction of the new hydrogen tank line at Shimoyama is starting now, while the exterior for the new stack production facility is already finished and work will now begin on the interior. Details of the respective facilities will be announced later with a view to start operations around 2020.
Toyota says annual fuel cell production and sales have increased yearly, going from about 700 units in 2015, to around 2000 units in 2016, and, most recently, approximately 3000 units in 2017. However, to encourage more widespread use of hydrogen-powered zero-emission vehicles, popularization needs to start by the 2020s, according to the company. Toyota aims for annual sales of FCEVs to top 30,000 units globally from around that time.