Toyota Mirai Fuel-Cell Vehicle Bows; Honda Counters With FCV Concept

TOKYO Honda and Toyota showcased their commitment to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles by the nearly simultaneous debuts of the Toyota Mirai and the Honda FCV Concept, which previews the next-generation Honda fuel-cell vehicle.

Mirai means "future" in Japan. Toyota said its fuel-cell vehicle, which is set to go on sale in California in 2015, can travel up to 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, refuel in less than five minutes and emits only water vapor.

Honda said the production version of its fuel-cell vehicle is "anticipated to launch in Japan by March of 2016, followed by U.S. and Europe." The Honda concept is the successor to the Honda FCX Clarity. Like the Mirai, the next-generation Honda fuel-cell vehicle is expected to have a 300-mile or more driving range.

The upcoming Honda fuel-cell vehicle has a powertrain that fits completely within the front engine compartment, allowing for more cabin space and the ability to spin off "multiple vehicle models in the future," the automaker said.

"Significant technological advancements to the fuel-cell stack have yielded more than 100kW of power output," Honda noted.

Pricing has not been announced on either vehicle.

The Mirai and Honda fuel-cell vehicle will compete with such offerings as the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle. Ford, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz are also working on fuel-cell vehicles that may be available by 2017.

To speed the development of the hydrogen-station infrastructure in the U.S., Toyota on Sunday announced that it will help finance 12 new hydrogen stations to be built in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Toyota is collaborating with Air Liquide to develop the hydrogen stations in the northeast corridor. Specific details of the collaboration will be announced in the coming months.

"Toyota's vision of a hydrogen society is not just about building a great car, but ensuring accessible, reliable and convenient refueling for our customers," said Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz in a statement.

Honda countered by saying it will make an announcement at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show about its commitment to "help expand and accelerate California's public hydrogen refueling station network."

The Alternative Fuels Data Center of the U.S. Energy Department says there are 13 hydrogen stations in the U.S., excluding private stations.

Edmunds says: Most car shoppers can't get their hands on a hydrogen-powered vehicle at this point. But the future looks bright, especially with these two key announcements from Toyota and Honda.