NAIAS 2014: Toyota’s Fuel Cell Vehicle Reaches Beyond Prius

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The Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle at NAIAS 2014 points to a gasoline-free future.

Long before Al Gore won an Oscar and a Peace Prize for a nonsensical slide show meant to scare people into giving him their money, the automakers were working on cars that burned less gasoline. While Gore and his cultists waited for the sky to fall in the hope they could turn from fragile neurotics into superheroes, designers and engineers went about the very real and level-headed work of re-creating automobiles.

Aside from all the global warming mouth frothing that seems more ridiculous by the day, reducing the use of fossil fuels in cars is an essential function of modern science. If cars can one day move beyond oil and gas, one could argue practically (without the smug, unfounded lecturing of environmental extremists) that global conflicts would lessen and the planet's atmosphere would benefit from reduced exhaust pollution. Most importantly — and most immediately necessary — alternative fuel vehicles could save consumers a future of exorbitant gas prices.

So, we have electric cars that never seem to work as well as we'd like. We have plug-in hybrids that use electricity with a gasoline engine to extend mileage. And, we have the most popular alternative fuel car — gas hybrids like the Prius. Even though the Prius is one of the top selling hatchbacks in the world, it's a car that flourished because of the false panic caused by eco-crusaders who wouldn't know science if they pedaled over it in their ridiculous recumbent bicycles en route to the kale department at Whole Foods.

The Prius works as a hybrid. It provides the MPG it boasts to consumers. It sells well despite being tinny, boring and driving like a wet sponge. Sadly, it was designed deliberately to look as ugly as me in a Speedo. It crept off assembly lines as dull as a beige room to appeal to people who hate cars and resent having to own one. I believe Toyota essentially made a rain forest of money by building a statement car for non-drivers.

I described the dedicated Prius owner as a car hater. They don’t like the internal combustion engine. They have no appreciation for performance. They don’t find cars visually or sensually compelling. Most importantly, they want to call attention to themselves as saviors of the planet. The outward chunkiness of the Prius gave every busy body narcissist free mobile advertising.

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The Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell.

That said, Toyota looks to be shaking off old hybrid thinking with its tremendous introduction of its hydrogen fuel cell technology and the concept FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle). It's not a theory. It's real. It's there to be seen on the floor of the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detriot. It promises to be an on-the-road, consumer reality following NAIAS 2014 within the year (in California, for starters).

This Toyota hydrogen fuel cell car system proves that cheap, clean burning hydrogen is the future of cars — in place of hybrids or plug-in electrics.

Toyota engineers have the right hydrogen containment system and the correct power plant. The fuel cell system is so powerful that Toyota wants it to connect it to your future home to help power your life — car and residence plugging into each other to share hydrogen energy.

The most pleasant surprise? In its concept form, the FCV is a good looking car. It wears a few sporty flares. It would turn heads and looks extremely aggressive for a Toyota design. Basically, it's not ashamed of being a car. There's no clear word yet if that is how the FCV would really look off the assembly line, but it's headed in a strong visual direction.

While the Prius served its purpose for Toyota, the automaker is now genuinely leading the way to a future where cars will be cars — but powered safely and cleanly by the most abundant element in the universe (I mean hydrogen — not fashionable, cause celebre activist stupidity).