Toyota reveals new Mirai concept, the second-generation of its hydrogen fuel cell-powered...

Humza

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

In the on-going tussle between battery-powered and combustion engine vehicles, Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell technology seems to combine the best of both worlds - fossil-free EV propulsion paired with the range and refueling time of a traditional ICE-powered car.

Despite things looking promising on paper, Toyota, which came up with one of the first commercial hydrogen fuel cell-powered sedans, has had a very niche market with its Mirai (which means "future" in Japanese).

Since the first-gen model that went on sale in 2015, most Mirais have gone to the North American market, particularly the state of California. Although it's available in Europe and Japan too, the US State has accounted for nearly 66 percent of the car's global sales of 9,000 units.

Now in its second generation, the Japanese automaker looks to take the vehicle upmarket, shifting its image from the average Joe's Prius to the more luxurious Lexus GS. The newer model, with a much better-looking concept, is expected to begin production in late 2020.

Like the Lexus sedan, the next Mirai will be rear-wheel drive as opposed to the current model and also sport a lower, wider stance. The car's range will also see a 30 percent improvement, increasing it from 312 miles to 405 miles.

Toyota is one of the very few automobile companies to invest heavily in hydrogen fuel cells and says that it's spent $1 million an hour on R&D of this technology. Combine this with a very limited infrastructure, improvements to the exterior and interior (now with seating for five), and it's easy to see why the next Mirai will be more expensive than the outgoing $58,500 model. Though price doesn't seem to be a concern, as the company says that more than 95% of Mirais are leased.

In terms of reliability, Toyota's fuel cell senior engineer Jacke Birdsall says that the car has been tested in -40 degree weather, from the cold Yellowknife city in Canada to the hot temperatures of Death Valley. "It's not a question of whether this technology works," she says, adding that they're now looking to refine it in terms of efficiency and cost, and taking advantage of the EV performance with rear-wheel drive.

Interestingly, Toyota isn't looking to win over batteries in current EVs with its fuel cells. "If you have a house and you can charge a car in your garage, then maybe you get an EV," says Birdsall. "If you don't have access to a charger, or you cover a lot of mileage, and you want a zero-emissions vehicle, then a fuel cell car is the better option. It's not one or the other. We want to give people choices."

The Mirai's chief engineer, Yoshikazu Tanaka says that the new Mirai is meant to be a car that customers feel like driving all the time, "a car that has emotional and design appeal, as well as dynamic and responsive driving performance that can bring a smile to the faces of drivers." He prefers Mirai's customers to say that they chose it not because it's an FCEV, but because they really wanted the car and "it just happened to be an FCEV."

Toyota plans to sell 30,000 units of the '21 Mirai in its first year and is working to increase its presence in the US' Northeast market through infrastructure expansion. The new Mirai will also come with the company's recently announced 10-year (150,000 miles) transferable warranty and, possibly, free hydrogen refueling for the first three years of ownership, like the offer on the current model.

More information on the car will be available once its shown off at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.

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Fearghast

TS Addict
Electric car with its own powerplant - it's a really nice concept, but I have to wonder if it's as reliable as other Toyota cars.
THB I much really like the new prototype of plugin Prius, with huge solar panels everywhere :)
 

Lounds

TS Maniac
Hydrogen uses 3x electricity to produce to have the same energy as an EV which gets the energy straight from the grid with little lost energy conversion compared to Hydrogen production which has to use electrolysis to extract hydrogen from water. What a waste of energy!
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
Honestly, I feel hydrogen is getting c*ck-blocked... Granted it isn't as 'efficient' as batteries but it can be produced at home and it can be produced on-site at refilling stations. It is more efficient than petrol and diesel powered vehicles, and can be refueled in the same time. Realistically there isn't any super good reason hydrogen vehicles shouldn't be at equal or even better sales than battery EV's. I really believe if there had been as much effort and money put into making hydrogen EV's and refueling stations available as there was for battery EV's we'd have equal amounts of both right now and even less petrol/diesel ICE vehicles. And a lot of people seem to forget that the battery pack won't last forever, and will probably need to be replaced at some point at huge cost. And in the very end, I think hydrogen will win because of its quick refuel times - and I just don't feel batteries will ever get to the desired capacity and quick recharge times most people are not only used to with ICE vehicles, but need.

So the fact that Japan is pushing so hard for hydrogen puts a smile on my face, and I hope they are successful in their push, world-wide. We all know how successful they were with pushing economical and reliable vehicles upon the western world so I hope they do the same thing with hydrogen EV's.
 
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IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
Hydrogen uses 3x electricity to produce to have the same energy as an EV which gets the energy straight from the grid with little lost energy conversion compared to Hydrogen production which has to use electrolysis to extract hydrogen from water. What a waste of energy!
This depends on where the electricity is coming from... A lot of greenies forget there is still a large portion of coal and gas powered electrical stations. It just depends on the area, and in some areas hydrogen EV's would be more environmentally friendly than battery EV's.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Hydrogen uses 3x electricity to produce to have the same energy as an EV which gets the energy straight from the grid with little lost energy conversion compared to Hydrogen production which has to use electrolysis to extract hydrogen from water. What a waste of energy!
Apparently, only 4% of commercial hydrogen is produced using electrolysis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_production
 
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bexwhitt

TS Evangelist
Honestly, I feel hydrogen is getting c*ck-blocked... Granted it isn't as 'efficient' as batteries but it can be produced at home and it can be produced on-site at refilling stations. It is more efficient than petrol and diesel powered vehicles, and can be refueled in the same time. Realistically there isn't any super good reason hydrogen vehicles shouldn't be at equal or even better sales than battery EV's. I really believe if there had been as much effort and money put into making hydrogen EV's and refueling stations available as there was for battery EV's we'd have equal amounts of both right now and even less petrol/diesel ICE vehicles. And a lot of people seem to forget that the battery pack won't last forever, and will probably need to be replaced at some point at huge cost. And in the very end, I think hydrogen will win because of its quick refuel times - and I just don't feel batteries will ever get to the desired capacity and quick recharge times most people are not only used to with ICE vehicles, but need.

So the fact that Japan is pushing so hard for hydrogen puts a smile on my face, and I hope they are successful in their push, world-wide. We all know how successful they were with pushing economical and reliable vehicles upon the western world so I hope they do the same thing with hydrogen EV's.
The logistics of supply are really expensive and hard with hydrogen, it makes no sense for cars, trucks and ships maybe. Toyota has it's head in the sand if it thinks hydrogen will ever go mainstream for cars.
 
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Lounds

TS Maniac
Honestly, I feel hydrogen is getting c*ck-blocked... Granted it isn't as 'efficient' as batteries but it can be produced at home and it can be produced on-site at refilling stations. It is more efficient than petrol and diesel powered vehicles, and can be refueled in the same time. Realistically there isn't any super good reason hydrogen vehicles shouldn't be at equal or even better sales than battery EV's. I really believe if there had been as much effort and money put into making hydrogen EV's and refueling stations available as there was for battery EV's we'd have equal amounts of both right now and even less petrol/diesel ICE vehicles. And a lot of people seem to forget that the battery pack won't last forever, and will probably need to be replaced at some point at huge cost. And in the very end, I think hydrogen will win because of its quick refuel times - and I just don't feel batteries will ever get to the desired capacity and quick recharge times most people are not only used to with ICE vehicles, but need.

So the fact that Japan is pushing so hard for hydrogen puts a smile on my face, and I hope they are successful in their push, world-wide. We all know how successful they were with pushing economical and reliable vehicles upon the western world so I hope they do the same thing with hydrogen EV's.
I watched this video earlier and I think it's going to take a lot longer for Hydrogen to ever become mainstream, there's more profit to be made in Battery EV's and fast charging stations.
 

Karlos95

TS Enthusiast
This depends on where the electricity is coming from... A lot of greenies forget there is still a large portion of coal and gas powered electrical stations. It just depends on the area, and in some areas hydrogen EV's would be more environmentally friendly than battery EV's.
I don't think they "forget" at all. There are 100 companies that are producing 70% of the worlds pollution. Guess who are the ones blocking the "green" way. If everyone started to drive EVs then OIL companies would be losing out. That would mean it would be all up to the coal barrons to keep business as usual. But as people start to use solar panels on their homes, the coal companies also start to lose money. It's all stepping in the right direction. Now you say they forget where the electricity is coming from? Well, using coal electricity still cuts down fuel consumption (more emissions from the engine) and still is cleaner than all the cars sitting in traffic blowing smoke into the air. But again, true change will happen when the COAL and OIL industries don't have the politicians and markets by the balls.