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Toyota's Fine-Comfort Ride shows new fuel-cell tech

This big burgundy box could be the luxury saloon of the future. Watch out Tesla?

Toyota is absolutely on it with the Tokyo motor show concepts. The latest is this, the Fine-Comfort Ride concept. The initials of Fine-Comfort also, probably not coincidentally, represent its fuel-cell powertrain.

Each wheel packs its own electric motor, while the batteries that power them are fed by hydrogen. So it should drive like an EV but will be filled at a pump, with a claimed range of 600 miles. Try that in a Tesla.

Toyota makes a fuel-cell car now - the Mirai - but this one is quite different. Putting the motors in the wheels has freed up a lot of interior space, and Toyota dubs the Fine-Comfort Ride as a “new form of premium saloon”.

The cabin is wider than usual where the second row of passengers sit, while the FC Ride’s body narrows at the rear to help the body carve through the air. At 4.8 metres, it’s shorter than a Model S, but ought to be significantly roomier inside. The fuel cell stack sits up front, while the hydrogen tank is cylindrical and sits in the floor.

The seats are hugely adjustable to their user’s posture – they appear to be as adjustable as a business class plane seat, with a similarly bold trim – and they all swivel inwards, so autonomous driving has clearly been kept in mind.

The interior as a whole is free of traditional trim and buttons, with displays galore. Even the windows can be used as screens, it seems. The FC Ride’s shape suggests it could be a big seven seater, though the concept only has four proper seats inside, with a cramped looking bench at the rear.

Its fuel-cell tech is said to be a major advancement over the Mirai’s - considerably more efficient, while offering 310kW of power, which equates to over 400bhp. Operating through four-wheel drive, it sounds like it could be rather fun, especially if the individual motors were controlled via a torque-vectoring system. But Toyota has focused on “stress-free acceleration and deceleration”. Smoother and slower than you’re expecting, probably, but then the FC Ride tops two tons.

We suspect a production version is unlikely; this concept is a taster for both fuel-cell tech and the way Toyota wants its cabins to advance. And if it’s not floating your boat, then worry not. Toyota’s Tokyo stand will also contain a hybrid sports car that looks a bit like a Lancia Stratos, some artificially intelligent Segway-alikes and the Tonka-inspired TJ Cruiser. And Top Gear will be there to sample them all first hand…

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