The Toyota Mirai is quite possibly one of the most important cars in automotive history, and I can tell you first-hand that it isn’t a bad vehicle to get around in either!
I was invited by Toyota Australia to come along for a closer look at the model, have a drive and find out where the company is in regards to getting the Mirai into Australian Toyota dealerships.
First of all, at this stage the Toyota Mirai isn’t technically available in Australia, however, if you were to place an order for a fleet of the fuel-cell powered vehicles, then Toyota might be able to help you.
The road trip will see Toyota show the Mirai to politicians and business leaders, all with the goal of getting some investment into hydrogen re-fuelling infrastructure.
Did you know, it takes only three minutes to refuel a Toyota Mirai?
A full tank of hydrogen will keep the Mirai going for up to 550 kilometres and in that time all that comes out of the exhaust is water vapor.
Also, if you create the hydrogen (which is produced by removing the oxygen from water) from natural/renewable resources (i.e. with solar or wind power), then the Mirai is entirely air-pollution free.
The Toyota Mirai (and a couple of other hydrogen fuel cell models) are now available to buy in Europe, Japan and the U.S., however in Australia there is a lack of hydrogen fuelling stations available at this time.
To get around this, Toyota has a hydrogen re-fuelling unit mounted onto the back of a semi-trailer and this will travel the country to keep the Mirai fuelled-up.
Interestingly, hydrogen is readily available and already being used in Australia in applications such as medical and industrial, though in these applications the hydrogen is normally trucked on site in tanks.
So, what’s the Toyota Mirai like to drive? In one word - brilliant!
I was thinking it was going to be a ‘science experiment’ on wheels, it was anything but. In fact, it’s almost boringly ‘normal’.
You have all the usual things we’re all used to, air-conditioning, Bluetooth, sat-nav, stereo system, seats, wipers, trip computer…it’s a conventional car.
The only differences are - you only get electric motor noise, no emissions and a different fitting under the fuel filler door (similar to an LPG fitting).
Another bonus is that most of the fuel cell gadgetry, batteries and fuel tanks etc. is located under the floor, or between the rear wheels, and that means a low centre of gravity.
I felt this really helped the Mirai exhibit a more nimble and enjoyable feel on the road than the Prius.
Yes, you still get a boot and under the bonnet it even looks pretty ‘normal’ too.
Oh, and another very cool bonus that the Toyota Mirai brings to the table is the ability to be able to power your house!
If you’re suffering a blackout, you just plug your household appliances into the Mirai and it will keep you powered up for up to four days.
Over the next decade, with proper support from government and business, we might just look at this period as the start of a revolution.
And, if you love cars and driving, well you should have no reason to fear that a hydrogen-powered car is any less enjoyable or functional than what you’re already used to.