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2015 Toyota fuel cell hydrogen vehicle prototype

12/12/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Emerging Technologies, Hydrogen, Toyota, AutoblogGreen Exclusive, Tokyo Motor Show, First Drive

Satoshi Ogiso, dubbed "the grandfather of the Prius," said in a recent interview in Tokyo, "Earlier would have been better, but it's taken a long time to get to this point." The point Ogiso was talking about was the arrival of representative prototypes of Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the precursor to the production FCV that the Japanese brand will offer for sale "around 2015."

It is intriguing that the company that broke open the hybrid vehicle segment and is now the go-to brand when car shoppers want to be green is regularly lambasted for its push into hydrogen. If bullying were a concept one could apply to cars, the Prius would be Exhibit A in support of the victim. But Toyota stuck with it, losing money on every one of them for years until, in a role reversal worthy of George McFly and Biff from Back to the Future, now it's, well, the Prius. And that's Prius, sir, to you, thank you.

What drives Toyota's hydrogen push is not an idealistic worldview, but a business case.

Toyota is not walking away from hybrids - in fact, it sees them playing a role for a long time into the future - but the company believes that unless there's a quantum leap in battery technology, hydrogen-powered vehicles will be the greater part of a diverse mix of vehicles used for medium- and long-range applications. What drives that idea is not an idealistic worldview, but a business case.

Said Toyota Technical Center Principle Engineer Matt McClory, "This is always a kind of mythical issue and I really don't know where it comes from. We could never have started - not only Toyota but all the major automakers - we would not have started doing fuel cells back in the '90s if we thought it would not make sense to come to market as an economical and sustainable solution."

We have now had a chance to drive Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell car twice, once earlier this year in California, and once a couple of months ago in Japan. We were repeatedly told in California, "The future is fuel cell." And in Japan, just a few months away from the car's introduction at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, we were told by John Hanson, Toyota's national manager of environmental, safety & quality communications, "The powertrain's been invented, making it a real car."

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First Drive: 2009 Ford F-150, "capability matters"

10/18/2008   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Ford, First Drive

Click above for high-res gallery of the 2009 Ford F-150

It's been said far too often that timing is everything. Sometimes a product comes to market before the market is ready, such as when the Diamond Rio MP3 player debuted a decade ago. Other times, the market moves on before a product arrives. For Ford and Chrysler, the latter rings truer than ever in late 2008. Both companies opened the year with splashy introductions of all-new redesigned full-size pickup trucks at the Detroit Auto Show. Those events were quickly followed by an utter collapse of demand for the entire segment. As U.S. gas prices surged to $4 a gallon and beyond, sales of big trucks dropped by nearly half.

When the last couple of generations of the F-150 launched, Ford spent months building extra trucks on overtime to ensure it had enough stockpiled inventory while it re-tooled factories for the new models. This time around, Ford had so many unsold units of the current F-150 sitting on dealer lots that the Dearborn brand was forced to delay Job 1 for three months while the old stock was cleared out with heavy incentives. That time has now arrived, so Ford invited the media out to its Michigan Proving Ground in Romeo, MI to try out the newest edition of the F-150 that, until last spring, had been the top selling vehicle in America ever since the age of the dinosaurs. Read on to find out if the F-150 is still the leader.

Gallery: First Drive: 2009 Ford F-150

Photos Copyright (C)2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

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