Why Toyota should and should not market its fuel cell vehicle as a Camry
Tomorrow Toyota will show the production version of its fuel cell vehicle, which it creatively calls the FCV. The vehicle will make its first production version appearance in Aspen at the Ideas Conference. Just yesterday the company revealed the car in the Japanese market. This mid-size sedan has the approximate dimensions and basic mission of the current Camry. It also has about the same range as a Camry on a tank of “fuel.” Will Toyota eventually market this vehicle as a Camry? There are good reasons why, and why not to do it. Let’s weigh the two options.
Toyota Should Market the FCV as a Camry Fuel Cell Car
If Toyota is serious about not going forward with battery electric vehicles, then making a Camry FC (as in Fuel Cell) would do wonders for the idea of moving fuel cell vehicles forward. Camry is the number one car model in the US, and has always been near first for decades. By adding a Camry FC to the model line (alongside the Camry hybrid and other Camry cars) Toyota would signal that the debate is over and fuel cell cars are now here.
This would require that Camry be modified to accept the fuel cell, or more reasonably, the FCV would be re-skinned to look more like a Camry. The fuel cell and the other drive components would make it hard to simply drop the fuel cell drivetrain into the current Camry. It is absolutely doable for Toyota, they would just have to decide to make it happen.
The main benefit here is that Camry carries a lot of weight in the consumer consciousness. Camry is overwhelmingly a positive word in the car world. If Toyota labeled its Camry an FC it could help the fuel cell cause.