It is not very common that you hear of rivals playing nice together. Most hold their secrets and patents closely, while looking to advance to the next level of the playing field. Automakers are no different. They all want to be at the top of the list when it comes to the latest and greatest technology. Toyota has been very vocal with the announcement of their hydrogen fuel cell car the Mirai. They have also announced that they will be partnering with Honda and Nissan. Hmmm you may say?
No, no, they will not be going into a joint venture to build a supercar. It turns out that the three competitors in Japan want to play nice though for the benefit of each other. They want to join resources to build a hydrogen infrastructure in Japan that will benefit the three car makers. They have agreed upon covering the operation cost of the hydrogen stations, as well as to help infrastructure companies deliver the best customer service, and create a hassle free fueling network for customers.
The three automakers will partially cover (alongside the government of Japan) the operation costs of the hydrogen fuel stations that are incurred by infrastructure companies. Toyota, Honda, and Nissan will also jointly raise awareness about the support measures they are offering to attract businesses into the hydrogen fuel infrastructure business. Financial assistance will be provided through the Research Association of Hydrogen Supply/Utilization Technology (HySUT).
With the move to create a viable hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure, it is highly implied that not only Toyota, but Honda and Nissan as well will be working toward hydrogen fuel celled vehicles in future generation models. With the backing of the Japanese government, it is possible that Japan may be making the move to get away from traditionally fueled vehicles and move to more eco-friendly vehicles going forward.
It is, however, yet to be seen as to whether customers will adapt to this mind set. Hybrid vehicles have been around for many years, and still there are customers that aren’t ready to adapt to this trend. Will hydrogen fueled vehicles be affordable for the masses? Will they be powerful enough for consumers to buy into the hype? It is likely that it will be a successful business model for Japan, but the U.S. is a different story.