Toyota has unveiled its much-touted new fuel cell sedan, a hydrogen-powered four-door model called Mirai that can travel up to 300 miles before needing to be refueled.
"We imagined a world filled with vehicles that would diminish our dependence on oil and reduce harm to the environment," President and CEO Akio Toyoda said in the announcement. "It was a bold, but inspiring goal. And, today it is a reality. 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."
With a name that means "future" in Japanese, it's clear that Toyota hopes hydrogen fuel cells will be the future of green cars and the auto industry as a whole.
Filling up in less than five minutes, the Mirai emits only water vapor and comes after a development process that included "millions" of test-track miles, a decade of testing on public roads and "extensive" crash tests, according to the automaker. It is expected to cost the equivalent of around $69,000 in Japan. While pricing for the American market hasn't been confirmed, the Mirai is estimated to start at about $50,000 in the U.S.
Toyota seems to be as intent on marketing hydrogen as it has been on selling hybrid vehicles, Forbes noted. The automaker that launched the hybrid Toyota Prius in 1997 is now striving to make fuel-cell vehicles mainstream.
Since the Mirai needs access to hydrogen fueling stations to be useful, Toyota is helping to build a fuel cell-supporting infrastructure in the northeastern U.S. Through a partnership with Air Liquide, Toyota plans to build 12 hydrogen stations in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island in time for the Mirai's launch in that region.
Expected in Japan by the end of the year, the Mirai should arrive in Europe in early 2015 and in California by the summer. The northeastern states slated to get a hydrogen station infrastructure will likely see the Mirai in early 2016.