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Toyota to build hydrogen station on old factory site

Toyota will re-purpose part of its old local manufacturing site for its hydrogen operations.

Toyota Australia plans to build a $7.4 million dollar 'Hydrogen Centre' and refueling station at the company's former manufacturing digs in Altona, Victoria.

The centre will be Victoria's first hydrogen refueling site, although not the first in Australia following a 2007 hydrogen bus trial in Perth and a sole refueling station at Hyundai's Macquarie Park, NSW headquarters which has been in operation since 2014.

Toyota's 'commercial grade' refueling station will form part of the larger 'Hydrogen Centre' which will be co-funded to the tune of $3.1 million by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The centre will host educational events and live demonstrations relating to Toyota's hydrogen products.

The hydrogen centre is part of Toyota's push into the relatively non-existent Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) market, which began late last year with the brand expanding its Mirai FCEV loan program.

The program seeks to put a handful of FCEV vehicles in the hands of government agencies and commercial organisations. Toyota says this is to "demonstrate hydrogen as a viable fuel source for transport."

The Mirai FCEV is claimed to be "the world's first mass-manufactured FCEV sedan". It generates 113kW/335Nm via an electric motor and has a range of 550 kilometres off a single five kilogram tank of hydrogen. One of the main benefits over plug-and-charge electric cars is that hydrogen vehicles can be refueled in three to five minutes.

The refueling station will support a handful of Mirai FCEVs. The refueling station will support a handful of Mirai FCEVs.

The Mirai is available in Japan, the US and Europe where there is limited infrastructure to support it. Here in Australia it will theoretically compete with Hyundai's upcoming NEXO hydrogen SUV.

There are also only a handful of Hyundai hydrogen vehicles - all of which are in the Korean brand's Australian fleet - but that has not stopped Hyundai from recently committing $9.3 billion to the expansion of its fuel cell R&D globally. Hyundai has partnered with Audi to leverage both brand's research capabilities in the FCEV field.

Toyota plans to have its refueling station open by late 2020. The company has an ambitious target of zero CO2 emissions from all sites and vehicles by 2050 and hopes that one day sites like this will support truck and bus fleets.

Do you think hydrogen fuel cell technology has a future in Australia? Tell us what you think in the comments below.