LA gets denouement of Toyota Mirai FCV

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Toyota FCV

The Toyota Mirai is getting shown off in production guise, the first FCV available for purchase. Image from Wikimedia Commons

The Toyota Mirai, Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, is officially debuting at the Los Angeles Auto Show ahead of going on sale next year. It’s the first FCV one can actually buy, though it’s only available in California for the moment.

Toyota Mirai first FCV to go on sale

A lot of people have high hopes for fuel cell vehicles and the first one that people will be able to buy is the Toyota Mirai. It isn’t the first FCV – as they’re called – to be available for people to drive and so on, as the Honda Clarity has been available for lease for some time. It’s getting showed off at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show and will likely make the rounds at a few more.

At this point, it’s little more than an oddity, as there’s barely any infrastructure for hydrogen-powered vehicles. There are some scattered stations nationwide, but most of them are concentrated in Southern California. However, a lot of people think FCV technology could be the savior of the automobile.

Step in the right direction

Going by the numbers, the Toyota Mirai is not impressive. The Mirai produces 151 horsepower from the electric motor that powers the front wheels. Top speed is 111 miles per hour and the effective range is about 300 miles from the twin tanks, which you fill up with liquid hydrogen. The design might seem a little odd, but it’s barely changed since the Toyota FCV concept debuted a few years ago.

Fill-ups cost about $60, and take only about one minute longer than filling a car with gasoline. Good luck with those, because there are about a dozen stations that carry the fuel in California, 10 of which are in Orange County.

Granted, the interior is pretty swank, with luxurious leather, an infotainment system in the center console and other accoutrements, but then it should because it will cost $57,000 when it goes on sale in mid-2015. If that’s too daunting, you can lease one for $500 a month – a bargain compared to the Honda FCX Clarity, which costs an extra $100 per month to lease.

Compared to alternatives, however, the Mirai (Japenese for “future”) is about the best available option for a zero-emissions vehicle. Unlike an electric car, it doesn’t need hours on the charger to keep going. Unlike gasoline engines, the only emissions are water and the fuel (hydrogen) is the most abundant element in the universe.

So it’s got that going for it.

A broader movement

The Toyota Mirai is just one of a number of furtive attempts at creating hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Honda have all tried their hands at creating an FCV; Toyota is just the first to put one on sale. Granted, there won’t be many. Only 200 are allotted for initial sale and they’re only planning to sell 2,000 in total.

Granted, the price tag comes with some buffers. Aside from upward of $10,000 in available tax credits, three years of free fuel is being thrown in with the deal. Toyota is also investing a lot of money into building 19 more fueling stations in California, plus 19 more in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island when the Mirai goes on sale in New England in 2016.

It doesn’t seem like much…but it’s a start.




The Guardian

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