Toyota to introduce fuel cell car at Las Vegas electronics show

Toyota, which pioneered in gas-electric hybrids, is now showing its commitment to fuel cell vehicles. Toyota today is presenting its fuel cell concept car at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company says it hopes to put a fuel cell vehicle on sale to the public by 2015.

Fuel cell cars combine hydrogen with air to create water and electricity. The fuel cell directs the electricity to a motor that drives the car. Water is the only emission from this process.

Toyota says the fuel cell car, which is essentially an electric vehicle that does not have to be plugged in, will go 310 miles before needing a refill. That refill with hydrogen should take only about three minutes -- just a bit longer than filling up with gas, and far less time than needed for recharging a battery. The drawback with hydrogen, however, is that so far fueling stations are very scarce.

Toyota may be first to offer a fuel cell vehicle for sale, but Honda already is leasing a small number of its FCX Clarity fuel cell cars to consumers in Southern California, where there are a few hydrogen refueling stations.

Long a showcase for new technology, the CES increasingly is featuring new advances in automotive tech. As scientists move ahead with both connectivity for entertainment and information and features that lead toward the self-driving car, such auto advances are drawing increasing attention. 

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    Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.