THE LEX COLUMN: Toyota out on its own with hydrogen fuel cells
Japanese car giant has invested heavily in a technology thought worthless by almost everyone else
Hydrogen fuel cells are meant to be Toyota’s secret shame. The Japanese car giant has invested heavily in a technology thought worthless by almost everyone else. Its Mirai saloon costs about $57,000, is tough to refuel and has shifted only 7,000 units. Elon Musk derides “fool cells”. Responses from Toyota executives have sounded apologetic. Yet Toyota continues pushing an initiative as seemingly useless as a Mirai 500km from a refuelling point. Hydrogen vehicles were items one, two and three on a list of steps towards a low-carbon society published with half-year results. No wonder the market focused on earnings from the fuel guzzlers and hybrids customers actually want. Pretax profits rose a quarter to ¥1.5-trillion ($14bn). The group lifted its full-year net profit forecast 8.5% to ¥2.3-trillion to reflect a weakening yen. Shares strengthened. The short-term priority for Toyota is to raise rock-bottom margins in the US, where its sedans are losing ground to sport utility vehicles ...