Toyota’s Mirai represents a turning point for the automotive industry as it will be the first ever hydrogen fuel cell powered engine. It seems fitting that Mirai in Japanese means “Future”, as this could very well be the future of cars as we know it (unless the oil companies have anything to say about it).
The Mirai, a concept car that has been known publicly for ten years and was once called FCV, uses compressed hydrogen as a base component to fill its tanks. This, mixed with hydrogen sucked in from the car’s intake system powers the magnet electric motor powering the front wheels. This eco-friendly vehicle has the additional bonus of being completely gas free and highly efficient as it only takes around five minutes to fill its hydrogen tanks.
This unique engine also has an interesting side effect as its emission is released in the form of H2O, expelling an average water bottle per 300-miles. Releasing the built up water is as simple as pushing the ‘H2O’ button located left of the steering wheel.
When it comes to speed, the Mirai produces 153 horsepower, going 0 to 100 km/H in approximately 9 seconds showing that the first car that “runs on water” is at least as fast if not faster than your average four cylinder engine.
Another feature that sets the Mirai apart from other vehicles is its Power Take-Off device, a feature that allows drivers to divert energy to their home, similar to a mobile generator. Toyota claims that this feature can power the average household for approximately one week.
Commenting at its unveling on Nov. 18, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation Aiko Toyodo, called the Mirai, “A turning point where a four-door sedan can travel 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, can be refuelled in under five minutes and emit only water vapour. A turning point that represents many years and countless hours of work by our team to create a car that redefines the industry. Our fuel cell vehicle runs on hydrogen that can be made from virtually anything, even garbage! It has a fuel cell that creates enough electricity to power a house for about a week”.
“All of us at Toyota believe in a future that will be safer, greener and easier for everyone. We imagined a world filled with vehicles that would diminish our dependence on oil and reduce harm to the environment. It was a bold, but inspiring goal and today, it is a reality”.
In addition to the environmental benefits of the Mirai, Toyodo also reassured people that the car would still perform to a high standard remarking that, “This is a car that lets you have it all with no compromises. As a test driver, I knew this new fuel cell vehicle had to be truly fun to drive – and believe me, it is. It has a low centre of gravity, which gives it very dynamic handling”.
In an attempt to legitimize hydrogen cells which have been scrutinized by many car developers, most notably Elon Musk, Toyodo commented that, “After surviving millions of miles on the test track and ten years of testing on public roads in freezing cold and scorching heat, after passing extensive crash tests, and after working with local governments and researchers around the world to help make sure it is easy and convenient to refuel, we are ready to deliver”.
In closing, Toyodo also elaborated on why Mirai was chose as the name for the car, commenting that, “The name we’ve given to our new car is Mirai, which in Japanese means ‘future’. We believe that behind the wheel of the Mirai, we can go places we have never been, to a world that is better, in a car that is better. For us, this isn’t just another car. This is an opportunity–an opportunity to really make a difference. And making a difference is what Toyota is all about. The future has arrived and it’s called Mirai.”
With Totyota stepping up their eco-friendly game, hopefully more major car manufacturers will continue to head towards electric cars as opposed to relying on gas and the oil companies that have dominated the automotive scene for almost 100 years. Similar to most other forms of industry it is time we get off the oil and embrace the ‘Mirai” of the automotive industry.