Toyota is getting ready to market its Mirai fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) despite critics’ contentions that hydrogen infrastructure is and could remain inadequate.
The Mirai stores hydrogen in carbon-fiber fuel tanks. The company reports, “For 20 years, we’ve been designing and testing our vehicle’s safety across a variety of climates and driving conditions. After millions of miles of road tests, track tests, and fuel-tank experiments, our fuel-cell system has proven itself ready to take the automotive industry forward.” In the event of an emergency, intelligent sensor and monitoring systems can activate shutoff valves to isolate the hydrogen tanks.
Price starts at $57,000; a vehicle may be leased for $499 a month for 36 months with $3,649 due at signing.
The company says fueling the vehicle takes about five minutes, vs. from 30 minutes to several hours to recharge an electric vehicle (unless you make use of Tesla’s battery-swap capability). Toyota expects California to have 20 new hydrogen stations by the end of 2015 and 100 by 2020. Toyota says it’s working with fuel providers like Linde and FristElement Fuels to build out hydrogen infrastructure. The 153-hp, 247-lb-ft vehicle has a range of up to 300 miles. (Visit Toyota for more.)
According to the Wall Street Journal, Toyota plans to produce 700 of the vehicles in 2015. The Journal also notes that Hyundai plans to have 60 of its hydrogen-fueled Tucson vehicles on the road by the end of this year.
In related news, Honda announced this week that it will delay introduction of its fuel-cell car until 2016.
In Forbes, Dale Buss questions whether a mass market for hydrogen cars is a realistic prospect. According to John Lippert at Bloomberg, “Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk said hydrogen’s shortcomings make it a dead-end for vehicles. ‘Fuel cells should be renamed fool cells, they are so stupid,’ he said in an interview last year.”