Toyota has announced the results of a recent collaborative fuel cell hybrid vehicle range and fuel economy field evaluation.

The Toyota Highlander Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle Advanced (FCHV-adv) achieved an estimated range of 693 kilometres on a single full tank of compressed hydrogen gas, and an average fuel economy of 109 km/kg (approximate mpg equivalent) during a daylong trip down the southern California coast.

In mid-2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), approached Toyota to participate in a collaborative evaluation of the real world driving range of the FCHV-adv.

On Tuesday, June 30, two fuel cell vehicles, two Toyota Technical Center engineers, an SRNL engineer and a NREL engineer completed a 532 km extended round trip drive between Torrance, California and San Diego.

Driving range data from each vehicle was calculated by SRNL and NREL engineers. The results were averaged for an estimated range of 693 miles, with an average fuel economy of 109 miles/kg.

For comparison, the 2009 Toyota Highland Hybrid achieves an EPA-estimated rating of 11 km/L combined fuel economy and has a full-tank range of approximately 724 km.

With premium grade gasoline currently priced at about $3.25 US, the gasoline-powered V6 Highlander hybrid is estimated to travel approximately 41 miles at a cost of about $3.25.

Currently, hydrogen gas pricing is not fixed, but DOE targets future pricing at $2 to $3 per kilogram. Therefore, the FCHV-adv is estimated to travel approximately 109 miles at a projected cost of about $2.50 — more than double the range of the Highlander Hybrid, at equal or lesser cost, while producing zero emissions.