Honda, Toyota on track to bring fuel cells to consumer market in 2015

Initial prices expected to be below $97,000 USD equivalent, with approximately 1,000 units annually.

Both Honda and Toyota are reportedly on track to release fuel-cell vehicles on the consumer market next year.

Toyota has already confirmed plans to introduce a new fuel-cell vehicle, based on the FCV concept, in several markets by 2015. A Nikkei report now suggests Honda will enter the consumer segment as a direct competitor around the same time.

Both companies are each expected to slowly ramp up initial production with 1,000 units annually, while prices are expected to be below 10 million yen (~$97,710 USD).

Honda's five-passenger sedan may arrive late in 2015, possibly in November, with a range of approximately 310 miles on a full tank of hydrogen. The company already produced a limited number of its FCX Clarity cars in 2008, however it has remained a research platform due to the high costs of fuel-cell technology.

Despite spending approximately $1 million for each fuel-cell drivetrain built in 2007, Toyota has remained publicly optimistic about the technology. The drivetrain alone in the production vehicle may account for $50,000 or more of the total vehicle cost, however one executive has forecasted that by 2020 the technology will be equivalent to plug-in hybrids and cheaper than all-electric offerings.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is among the most vocal critics of fuel-cell technology, which he argues is simply a marketing gimmick. The electric-car maker suggests that hydrogen-based systems will never approach the affordability of today's lithium-ion batteries even in a best-case scenario.

Toyota is said to be targeting a price drop into the 3-5 million yen (~$29,000 to $49,000 USD) range by 2020.

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