Autocar has learned that Nissan’s first production fuel cell car is likely to be a sports or luxury model, if the programme gets the go-ahead.
Izuho Hirano, Nissan’s fuel cell laboratory manager, admits that a fuel cell car must have “a point of additional appeal besides a fuel cell” if it is to sell for a target price of around £50,000.
The high price, enforced by the technology’s cost, has lead Nissan to conclude that the car must either be a high performance sports car, a luxury Infiniti or possibly both.
Hirano also confirmed that the decision on whether or not to build a fuel cell model will be made by early next year, necessary for the company to hit a proposed launch date of late 2014.
Nissan is part of a Japanese fuel cell collaborative group, along with Honda and Toyota, with targets to ensure fuel cell models and infrastructure are developed by 2015.
Reducing the cost and the size of the fuel cell system remains the key thrust of Nissan’s development programme and the company recently announced it had successfully doubled its fuel cell stack’s energy density.
Besides Japan, a fuel cell would go on sale in California and possibly parts of Europe if a hydrogen-refuelling network emerges.