Toyota's First 2016 Mirai Fuel-Cell Sedan Arrives In California

Nov 22, 2015 02:41 PM EST | John Nassivera

Glenn Rambach, from Sacramento, has become the first person in the U.S. to own the 2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell sedan.

The vehicle was delivered at Rosevilla Toyota, one of the first eight California dealers that will sell the Mirai, on Nov. 9 to Rambach, a 70-year-old engineer who specializes in hydrogen fuel cells, according to Green Car Reports.

The Japanese automaker is picking the first group of Mirai drivers based on certain requirements, such as how close they live to fueling stations. California is currently the only state here people can buy or lease fuel-cell cars.

Fuel-cell vehicles have been a major focus for Toyota, which believes that they will be the future of environmentally friendly transportation instead of battery-electric cars, The Detroit News reported. Toyota argues that fuel-cells cars have a better long-term solution to clean-air regulations than their electric counterparts, as a Mirai can go 312 miles on a full tank of hydrogen and takes three to five minutes to refuel, and no plug-electric car currently available is designed to travel that far on a single charge.

The company, which makes three Mirais each day at a plant in Toyota City, sold 34 of them last month in California and intends to deliver 100 this year for $58,335. It also plans to gradually accelerate production, developing 2,000 Mirais in 2016 and 3,000 in 2017.

"Our goal is to produce 30,000 units annually by 2020," said Yoshikazu Tanaka, the Mirai's chief engineer. "Further cost reduction is necessary to make the technology affordable and accessible."

Rambach, who Toyota says has been working on hydrogen fuel-cell technology since 1973, is also helping develop a hydrogen-fueling site in Rohnert Park, Calif., that will "someday" produce hydrogen with solar or geyser power, Green Car Reports noted.

Toyota plans on delivering the rest of the 1,000 Mirais allocated for the U.S. this year within the next 12 months.

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