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  • Back To The Future With The Toyota Mirai
  • 17 August 2015
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    Back To The Future With The Toyota Mirai

    Looking not unlike the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the all-electric Toyota Mirai is an amazing piece of technology that could represent the future of motoring.

Updated information on the Toyota Mirai

Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s boss, has described the car as a “turning point”. He said “our fuel cell vehicle runs on hydrogen that can be made from virtually anything, even garbage” and states “it has a fuel cell that creates enough electricity to power a house for about a week.”  Toyota has conducted research into hydrogen fuelling technology for twenty years and Toyoda said the company were “ready to deliver”.

Toyota gave a European price of €66,000 plus local taxes, which is equivalent to £60,000 or $58,325; however the final price has yet to be decided. However for that price, customers receive three years or $15000 worth of free hydrogen fuel, a hydrogen fuel station finder app, a week’s worth of rental car access, 24hour customer support and an 8year 100,000 mile hydrogen powertrain warranty.

The first Mirai was seen at the 2013 Toyota motor show and the production model barely differs. The specification in Europe is yet to be verified, but is set to probably include sat-nav, leather upholstery, climate control and a rear parking camera. There is a pre-crash system and lane departure warning, lane change assist and adaptive cruise control will likely be part of the safety features. 

Japan is supportive of hydrogen technologies according to Paul Van der Burgh, President and Managing Director of Toyota GB who has said, "You need government and our infrastructure partners aligned with what we are trying to do. In Japan, for example, hydrogen has had huge support, and that has allowed the technology to accelerate."

Toyota doesn’t expect the Mirai to saturate the market immediately, they will have to ease people into this new technology and refine it. Van der Burgh explained that “we're on a learning curve". "We do expect exponential growth to happen, but before that we need the right conditions. The infrastructure is not there at the moment, but if you wait for the infrastructure, you'll never learn anything.”

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Looking not unlike the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the all-electric Toyota Mirai is an amazing piece of technology that could represent the future of motoring. Indeed, since Mirai means future in Japanese, that’s probably what Toyota has in mind.

This car looks decidedly different; it all starts with the two huge air intakes at the front, which deliver oxygen to the hydrogen fuel-cell stack. This styling is echoed throughout the car with the extension of the rear wheel arches to stylistically match the front air intakes.

Inside things are a little more traditional and luxurious. The interior materials are of a high standard and there’s a large central touchscreen that looks like something out of Star Trek in photographs, but looks the part in real life.



The front-wheel drive Mirai comes with double wishbone suspension at the back and MacPherson struts at the front. That’s all sounds pretty normal but everything else deviates from the norm. Lift the bonnet and you’ll find the transverse-mounted electric motor and underneath the power control unit. Under the front seats is Toyota's compact Fuel Cell Stack and nestled between the front seats is the Fuel Cell Stack. Taking into consideration how much technology has gone into the Toyota Mirai, the functionality has not been overlooked. The boot is of a decent size – something you might not expect with hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.

So far, so futuristic, and Toyota is very proud of its innovating fuel cell stack. This new version is said to have doubled specific output to over 3.0kW/L and yet is half the weight of the 2008 effort.

At play is a ‘3D mesh’ cell design which clears away waste water so that the catalyst layer gets a better flow of oxygen. Toyota says that the stack can function even in Arctic temperatures and it’s claimed to last as long as a “normal” engine.

Explore further and things aren’t getting any more normal. Under the front and rear seats are two hydrogen tanks with a battery pack mounted on top of the second tank.

What about driving? Well, you press Go, glide the gear stick and off you go. There’s a smooth, quiet drivetrain, quite a bit of torque from a standing start and decent mid-range acceleration on the motorway.

There’s a lot of low-down weight in a car that’s well balanced, and this makes it a surprisingly agile performer. If this was a run-of-the-mill family car, you’d like it. Thankfully it’s much more than that: it’s a practical and usable insight to the futures served with a slice of technology and innovation with a decent range of 300 miles.

The Toyota Mirai will be on sale in Europe this autumn with a price of £56,000. Initial production will be 700 units, but Toyota is forecasting sales of 3,000 in 2017.
You can test drive any of the Toyota range in the South West at Howards Group’s Weston-Super-Mare showroom.
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