Toyota’s fuel cell-powered sedan now has a name: Mirai. Mirai is the Japanese word for future, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda announced in a YouTube video.
“The future has arrived, and it’s called Mirai,” Toyoda told YouTube viewers. A few more details about the vehicle are available as well. Endgadget reported that Mirai will go on sale in the United States next and will cost around $69,000.
The sporty looking sedan will run 300 miles on a tank of hydrogen and can be filled up in about five minutes—about the time it takes to fuel a gasoline powered vehicle. That means its performance is similar to that of a conventional car.
Some of the Mirai’s features, including a full-sized trunk, were also showcased in the video. The vehicle can seat four and has a low center of gravity that makes it fast to drive.
Toyota (NYSE: TMC) is betting big on the Mirai; the company has teamed up with the French industrial gas supplier Air Liquide (OTC: AI) to build 12 hydrogen filling stations in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. That will enable Mirai drivers to operate in the Northeast as well as California, where 19 hydrogen stations are being built.
Air Liquide is also planning networks of hydrogen filling stations in Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. In Germany, Air Liquide is part of the H2 Mobility Initiative, which plans to build 400 hydrogen filling stations nationwide by 2023.
Interestingly, enough the Mirai can also serve as a sort of power plant on four wheels. Toyoda, who has driven the car, noted that its fuel cell can generate enough electricity to power a house for a month. That means Toyota might be planning to enter the home fuel cell generating market.
The Mirai has gone through 10 years of testing on both test tracks and public roads, Toyoda noted. He also noted that the vehicle has been tested in extreme weather, including desert heat and winter cold.
Mr. Toyoda did not say whether Toyota is planning any other fuel cell vehicles, but one would imagine that it is. A whole family of such vehicles will probably be on the road in a few years.
Toyota apparently released the video in order to counter an announcement from Honda about its fuel cell vehicle. The Wall Street Journal reported that Honda is planning to start selling a fuel cell vehicle in the U.S. by March 2016.
Honda executives are apparently frustrated because Toyota has been able to commercialize the fuel cell technology first. No response from notorious fuel cell basher Elon Musk yet, but we’re certain that the Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA) chairman will respond.
Tesla in particular is going to be hard pressed to compete with Toyota’s popularity and dealership network in the U.S. One has to wonder how Tesla can compete with Toyota’s resources.
It looks as if fuel cell vehicles will soon be in our driveways. It also looks as if Mirai, like Prius, will become a household world in the U.S. in a few years.