Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of Toyota's hydrogen fuel-cell car Mirai, said that battery-powered EVs don’t have a practical future as a long-range alternative to conventional cars, even with fast-charging. Mr Tanaka said that fast-charging would guzzle so much energy at once that it would defeat the purpose of the EV as an ecologically sound form of transportation.
“If you were to charge a car in 12 minutes for a range of 500 km (310 miles), for example, you're probably using up electricity required to power 1,000 houses” Tanaka said. “That totally goes against the need to stabilise electricity use on the grid.”
Cars like the Nissan Leaf require lengthy charging, which reduces their attractiveness for customers planning to drive for long distances frequently. The Leaf requires about eight hours for a full charge, using a 200-volt outlet and giving a listed driving range of around 84 miles in the US.
“Toyota isn’t denying the benefits of EVs” Tanaka added, “But we think the best way to use them is to charge them at night (to avoid peak power consumption hours), and use them for short distances during the day.”
Toyota believes the most promising zero-emission alternative to conventional cars are hydrogen fuel-call vehicles (FCVs) as they have a similar driving range and refuelling time. However, FCVs require massive investment and government subsidies for fuelling stations. According to Tanaka, hydrogen could be extracted from many different sources and has the advantage of being portable and more easily stored than electricity. The southern Japanese city of Fukuoka last month completed a fuelling station that uses hydrogen made from sewage. This could power around 70 Mirai FCVs per day.