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Auto blogMon, 30 Jun 2014 16:01:00 EST
Toyota is requesting an exemption from federal safety regulations that govern electric cars as it prepares to launch a small-scale hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle fleet.
The Japanese automaker is targeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 305, which covers the packaging of high-voltage parts in electric cars. According to Uncle Sam, these systems need to be isolated so that passengers and first responders aren't electrocuted in the event of a crash. That seems pretty smart, but it's become a problem for Toyota's upcoming production fuel cell vehicle, as the mechanism that prevents electric shocks in low-speed crashes will apparently simply keep Toyota's car from even functioning.
Instead of the federally approved system, Bloomberg reports that Toyota plans to insulate the high-voltage wires and cables in the car, along with shielding electrical components like the fuel cells, electric motor and batteries with (presumably non-conductive) metal barriers.
Jay Leno takes a step outside of his cavernous garage for this latest video for a jaunt into the desert to get a little dirty. He meets up with off-road racing legend Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart, who has multiple Baja 500 and 1000 wins in his motorsports career, to play with a Toyota Tundra in the sand.
Unfortunately, Leno doesn't get to interview Stewart too deeply about his long history in racing, but Ironman does talk a little bit about reading the trail while speeding through the desert. In lieu of a great conversation, there is a ton of high-quality footage of the Toyota bounding through the desert.
This clip feels more like a marketing effort than the usual output from Jay Leno's Garage, but it's still great to see Stewart behind the wheel sliding a truck, just like old times. The two of them even take the truck on a somewhat humorous journey at the end of the video.
Four months have passed since Toyota ended its relationship with Tesla Motors, in which the electric-vehicle specialist supplied full lithium-ion battery packs to the Japanese behemoth for its RAV4 EV rollout, of which 2,500 vehicles will be completed. Now, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has been heard suggesting that a future collaboration is likely within the next two to three years, and that it will probably be much larger than the last one.
Both Tesla and Toyota have sung each other's praises in the not-too-distant past, Toyota telling Autoblog back in May, "We have a good relationship with Tesla and will evaluate the feasibility of working together on future projects." According to Automotive News, Musk said of the Japanese giant, "We love working with Toyota... We have a huge amount of respect for them as a company and certainly much to learn."
Interestingly, though, the two automakers have rather divergent strategies for eco-friendly automobiles. Toyota, as you're surely aware, is the clear-cut leader in hybrids and has thrown its massive support in the direction of hydrogen fuel cells, while Tesla has invested heavily in battery-electric technology and high-speed charging stations.