Toyota Mirai

Toyota Mirai - San Jose, California

Toyota Mirai – San Jose, California

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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7 thoughts on “Toyota Mirai

    1. The Hindenburg gave hydrogen a bad name but I hear gasoline is actually more explosive than hydrogen.

      The hydrogen gets stored in super strong tanks, I read. They should be safe but most of us will probably never drive one. Though perhaps hydrogen powered buses make more sense.

  1. That is one-ugly-car. Makes sense. The Canon folks had tried to develop a H2 cell for cameras but it had a bad habit of exploding. Not sure where they are on it now. Hope you can make the Bob McNeely show tomorrow evening. 

    Jerry Sullivan

    1. Toyota when from really boring styling to some weird and wacky ones. Unfortunately, some of their main stream designs don’t seem that much better.

      I hope you had a great show. I wanted to attend, but my energy level is still not up there.

  2. Toyota and Shell are working together on solving the problems associated with hydrogen cars and they look to be solving them rather quickly considering that they have just opened a hydrogen fuel pump at a regular fuel station in the UK. One of the difficulties with hydrogen is transporting it from a refinery to a petrol station (I think you call them gas stations) as the transportation cost would be prohibitive due to the required pressurisation. To solve that problem, Shell have built a hydrogen production and storage facility on site at the station. If this all works out, hydrogen would present a far more scalable energy source and energy storage solution than lithium batteries.
    There’s also the Aran Islands in Ireland, where they are are going to be using hydrogen as a storage solution for power generated by wind and water. So there’s a fair bit of research being done in this area.

    1. The entire energy and automobile sector is going to get a lot more investing over the next decade or so. We’ll probably have a mishmash of propulsion options.

      I would be more excited about hydrogen, if they made it more from splitting water with renewable energy. Though I did hear that there’s extra hydrogen created as part of certain existing industrial processes.

      It seems to me hydrogen power makes the biggest sense for fleet operators of buses and trucks. I’m looking forward to our future to see what happens.

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