This car is unique and not just because of its looks. For most readers, you’ll never see one. The Toyota Mirai is a hydrogen fuel cell car. That means you pump pressurized hydrogen into the car and an onboard full cell combines the oxygen from the air and the hydrogen to create electricity, which propels the car. Yes, it’s an electric car, where the electricity is manufactured inside the car. The only byproduct? Pure water and propulsion, of course.
Battery electric cars, such as the Teslas, are getting all the high-tech hype, but there a big advantage to a hydrogen fuel cell car. With only 5 to 10 minutes of pumping hydrogen, at a hydrogen filling station, you get about 300 mile of range. There’s no time-consuming battery charging process. The big downside, a hydrogen fueling infrastructure would need to be built, like the kind that already exists for gasoline. California has a small number of hydrogen stations so you can lease the Mirai at a local California Toyota dealer.
I made a quick visit to a Toyota dealer to look at the Prius Prime, which is a plug-in hybrid that gets about 25 miles of pure electric range. When it runs out of electric power, it just become a regular gasoline hybrid car. They sell that car all over the country but they don’t stock them in Austin. It’s a special order. I just wanted to see one in person.
The best and funniest part of the entire visit was how I got there. Remember that Ridiculous Rent-a-car I had? Imagine the sales person’s surprise, when I rumbled into the lot with a 5.0 Liter V8, and asked to see an electric hybrid car. Talking about two cars at the opposite side of the spectrum.
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