By, Justin GardinerTechnically this Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle made the 560km journey on four tanks of hydrogen, as that's how many high pressure pods are hidden away under the Toyota Kluger's rear seats. But the big news is that this car, and a back up sibling, managed to drive 350 miles from the hydrogen fueling station by the Osaka Prefectural Government Office to Toyota's Mega Web theme park in Toyota without needing to stop for more, err, gas. The car even had 30-percent of its fuel left -- running its A/C the entire time -- which mathematically gives it a 480-mile range. That's double the range of most current fuel-cell vehicles.
Thanks to improvements to the car's fuel cells and the management system that controls the hybrid's charging and discharging, the FCHVs used today are 25% more efficient than their predecessors, which have been roaming Japan's streets since 2001 undergoing testing. New stronger tanks that can hold hydrogen at twice the pressure of the old ones also helped the car reach such an impressive range.
The two cars left Osaka at 5:10 (Japan time) this morning, but still encountered bumper to bumper traffic on their way out of the Kansai region. The cars may not have needed to refuel, but the drivers did, making several stops on the 350-mile trip, but the drivers reckon they managed an average speed of 80km/h while on the road. Both cars arrived in Tokyo in time for a quick wash before their press conference at 3:30pm - though neither driver would admit to having taken the cars to their quoted maximum speed of 155km/h (approx. 90mph) on public roads.
Once the press conference was over, Toyota graciously handed the keys to one of the cars to this Autoblogger for a quick blast around the Mega Web complex. From our short acquaintance we can say that it was very quiet, surprisingly quick off the line thanks to 26.5kg-m of torque, but otherwise drove just like any other compact SUV.
No word when these cars will make it to market, and at what price. But mark our words, they are coming.