Toyota takes pole position in fuel cell cars

February 18, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
At the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, Toyota plans to highlight its technology leadership in fuel cell drives: At the event, a concept car will showcase a concept car that definitively outlines the potential of this technology for car design. Plus, the vehicle is loaded with lots of electronic refinements.

The LF-CF (Lexus Future Fuel Cell) is positioned as the flagship vehicle of Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus and is intended to hit the showrooms in 2020. The LF-CF comes with a new, high-performance fuel cell and all-wheel drive: Besides an electric motor that drives the rear axle, both front wheels will be equipped with wheel-hub motors.

The configuration of the new fuel cell is based on the existing technology but includes many detail improvements that optimise the driving performance and likewise the driving experience, the company said. One of the major improvements has been achieved in bettering the system efficiency, resulting in a higher driving range.

The all-wheel drive architecture enables exact control of the power distribution between front and rear wheels which translates into dynamic handling properties along with excellent directional stability, Toyota advertises. Provided the LF-CF will go into series production, it will be the first time that a mainstream vehicle will be equipped with wheel hub drives. This kind of motor is difficult to build and to integrate into the wheel because of conflicting requirements like power vs size and tricky cooling. On the other hand, wheel hub drives allow designers to implement torque vectoring, a method to steer vehicles through software for higher agility.

Besides fuel cell drive, the car will boast with advanced features supporting automated driving. The LF-CF uses the Teammate mobility concept, similar to the existing Highway Teammate test vehicle introduced in fall 2015. This electronic chauffeur tracks its environment by means of a stereo camera, five radar sensor and six LIDAR laser scanners. The system enables the driver to autonomously execute all highway driving manoeuvres like merging into the traffic, holding and changing the lane, adjust speed to the traffic and overtake other vehicles.

The dashboard will offer a specific electronic treat hitherto unseen in the automotive world: The head unit will project holograms into the space above the centre console: Three-dimensional