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Toyota builds mobile hydrogen refueller to tour Mirai

Fuel for thought: While Toyota’s mobile hydrogen refuelling station will top up the Mirai in 30-40 minutes, commercial hydrogen stations will be able to do it in just three minutes.

$500,000 hydrogen refuelling station to showcase Toyota’s fuel-cell tech around Oz

25 Nov 2016

TO OVERCOME the lack of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in Australia, Toyota has built its own station on the back of a Hino prime mover, allowing the Japanese car-maker to showcase its Mirai fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) to governments and stakeholders around the country.

Revealed at a media event in mid-November, the hydrogen station is capable of refuelling Toyota’s trio of Mirai fuel-cell vehicles in 30-40 minutes and will even work on buses, trucks and forklifts.

Toyota Australia government affairs and trade manager Andrew Willis said the refueller was developed as a means to drum up interest in FCEV technology.

“We’ve only had this unit (mobile refueller) operational for about two weeks now, we’ve only had the vehicles (Mirai) in Australia for a couple of months now,” he said.

“Our starting point was we showcase the vehicle and explain the technology to employees, then from there, we’ve actually been talking to first responders or emergency services, making sure they are familiar with the technologies and what we are doing and we’re showing them our dossier of all of the compliance and how we meet all of the regulations and so forth.

“A lot of these things don’t exist in Australia, so we are starting with a clean slate and that’s partly why we need to work with the governments and a lot of other stakeholders to actually get this road map of a rollout.” Although the mobile station is slower to refuel a Mirai than a larger, stationary commercial refuelling station – which can top up an FCEV in about three minutes – Mr Willis said Toyota opted for a portable solution due to the flexibility it affords.

“For a unit like this, and again, scale wise its much smaller, it’s not made for filling large volumes of vehicles, and the refuel rate is slower, but we deliberately wanted to make sure that it is portable and we can take it anywhere so we’ve compromised a little bit to make sure we can explain this technology out to all the stakeholders,” he said.

“The cost of it, it would be more in excess of half a million dollars.

Mr Willis revealed a commercial station would cost about four times as much, depending on how the station would generate the hydrogen.

“A commercial one, it depends on what you are doing, do you want to generate hydrogen on site and on location, do you want to generate it from a renewable source such as solar or wind?” he said.

“If you want to do those things and you want to have a commercial outlet and you can refuel within the three minutes, then it could be anywhere up to, and I’ m guessing, up to $2 million at the moment.” However, Mr Willis said there are still hurdles to overcome before FCEVs become a viable product in Australia.

“It’s a challenge and we don’t necessarily have all the answers yet, and even with the Mirai, we need to make sure we’ve got the refuelling infrastructure and the consumer demand, it’s great to have the technology, but if the take-up is not there, it’s not going to do much,” he said.

“We need to work with the government and with the stakeholders to make sure it is a viable proposition to roll it out, even for us, we don’t have the right to sell the cars in Australia yet, we need to make sure the infrastructure is there and the demand is there and if I’m a customer, I also want to make sure I can get the cars and the refuelling.

“So it’s like the chicken or the egg. We’re still in the very, very early stages and probably over the next six months we will probably spend a lot of time with the different stakeholders, government, other car companies and so forth to try and start to build up some momentum. We need a whole of industry approach.” Toyota Australia fuel-cell project sponsor and senior executive adviser to the board Bernie O’Connor said the construction of this mobile refueller highlights Toyota’s future fuel cell technology.

“The decision to invest in a mobile refueller demonstrates Toyota’s commitment to maintaining its leading role in developing flexible and personal mobility solutions for the next 100 years,” he said.

“It is the first high-pressure hydrogen refueller in Australia that can completely fill a fuel-cell vehicle. This is a practical and necessary measure to enable people around Australia to learn about and experience first-hand, the game-changing Mirai and its ground-breaking technology.” Aside from Toyota, Hyundai is also testing the local waters with its ix35 FCEV. The Korean car-maker has built a stationary hydrogen refuelling station at its headquarters in Macquarie Park, Sydney and the ACT government has purchased 20 next-gen vehicles.

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