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10 things you need to know about the Toyota Mirai

By raccars Published

The Toyota Mirai is a game changer – but in what way? Here are 10 reasons why it’s the car of the future to keep an eye on.

We’ve been waiting for the car of the future for years. With the Toyota Mirai, it’s finally here, says the giant Japanese manufacturer.

Now on sale in key markets worldwide, including the UK, the new Mirai is a fuel cell car that could be the first in a revolution. How is it such a gamechanger though? Here, we run through 10 reasons why…

1. It is the world’s first fuel cell car

The revolutionary Toyota Mirai is the first commercially available fuel cell car you can buy in a dealer showroom. Toyota believes hydrogen fuel cell technology is more flexible (and less restricted by range and recharge times) than pure battery-power EVs, having the potential to transform the environment without major investment in infrastructure.

Despite the space-age impression, it’s relatively simple technology so could actually be cheaper than today’s cars once it reaches higher volumes – the firm has been developing it for years and believes its times has now come.

2. It runs on hydrogen

Two hydrogen tanks feed a fuel cell stack mounted in the middle of the Mirai.

Here, hydrogen and oxygen combined to form water. Electricity is generated in this process, which is stored: the water is emitted via the tailpipe. See, simple!

3. It is driven by electricity from batteries

The electricity from this chemical reaction is stored in hybrid-style batteries on board the Mirai. It is fed to a motor driving the front wheels, like in an electric car: basically, the Mirai is an EV that you don’t have to charge up: the electricity is produced on board as you drive.

4. It emits only water

The Mirai literally only emits water. The only reaction on board is combining hydrogen and oxygen. A spokesman said you could drink the water from its tailpipe: he has done. “It tastes like demineralised water,” he said. It is thus completely zero emissions, emitting no CO2 or NOx.

5. It has a button to keep your garage floor dry

Water constantly dribbles from the tailpipe when the Mirai is in motion. You can avoid having a puddle of water form beneath your Mirai in your garage by pressing a button: this purges all the water from the pipe before you drive in.

6. It is very expensive

The Mirai costs £66,000 and Toyota only expects to sell 12 this year, 15 next year. You can lease it for £750 a month, similar to the price of a Tesla: this price is all-inclusive, even including free hydrogen.

7. There aren’t many hydrogen refuelling stations

Filling it up with hydrogen will be tricky: there are currently only three filling stations in the UK. By the end of 2016, there will be nine. The target is to have 65 across the UK in the medium term. There are many thousands of regular filling stations.

This is why Toyota expects early customers to be corporates based close to filling stations or with one on site. Theoretically though, existing filling stations could easily and cheaply fit a hydrogen pump, if the demand is there…

8. It is very safe

Hydrogen is stored on board under 700 bar pressure, in two tanks made from glass fibre and carbon fibre. They are very tough, and can withstand 225 per cent of their operating pressure. They are separated completely from the Mirai’s cabin and, if they leak (which they won’t, says Toyota), safety valves immediately shut down.

9. It drives like a Lexus

The Mirai has a very high quality interior that’s like one from a Lexus rather than a Toyota. It drives like a Lexus too, with a very comfortable ride, easy handling and swift acceleration. It’s straightforward as well: if you can drive a Prius, you can drive a Mirai (many of the controls are identical). But the overriding sense is of exceptional refinement and quietness.

The electric motor is silent, but for a whirr under acceleration. The ride is quiet. Wind noise is kept at bay. It is limo-like, an eco car that’s more like a luxury car.

10. It could be the next Toyota Prius

Toyota, back in the late 1990s, launched the world’s first hybrid car, the Prius. Today, it has sold many millions and made petrol-electric motoring a mainstream technology. The firm aims to do the same with the Mirai. As with the Prius, things will be slow and expensive to start with, but they’re likely to accelerate quickly from here. The age of the fuel cell car is finally here.

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