The Mirai is here and it’s the start of a new age of hydrogen-powered zero-emissions mobility.

As easy as a conventional car

The name Mirai means “future” in Japanese, but to make our new Toyota Fuel Cell System technology successful we know it has to be accessible and attractive to people today. Although Mirai has an extremely advanced powertrain and uses a new type of fuel, the Mirai is a regular mid-size, four-door sedan that is every bit as practical, safe and easy to drive as a conventionally powered family car. It will go as far as a similar size petrol car on a full tank of hydrogen and refuelling from empty takes between three and five minutes. The rewards are a quiet, smooth drive, strong performance and no tailpipe emissions other than water vapour.

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The benefits

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Mirai technology gallery

Emissions-free driving, powered by hydrogen

How it works

The Toyota Fuel Cell System used in Mirai produces electricity from a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. You fill up with hydrogen fuel, in the same way as you buy gasoline or diesel at a filling station. The fuel is contained in high-pressure tanks and fed into a fuel cell stack, where the hydrogen and the oxygen found naturally in the air react with each other and generate electricity. As in a petrol-electric hybrid, the electricity created is stored in a battery and is boosted in voltage to drive the electric motor. Further energy is captured every time the car brakes or slows down, which contributes to even better fuel economy.

Our decades of research and development in hybrid technology have helped us make the system the world-leader in terms of power density, at 3.1kW per litre, a level unmatched by any other manufacturer.

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A plentiful source of cleaner energy

A fuel for the next 100 years

Hydrogen is not a new source of energy. It has been widely used for more than a century, and it now also recognised as a viable power source for vehicles that can eliminate carbon emissions and reduce dependence on the world’s shrinking supplies of oil-based fuels. Hydrogen is all around us. In fact it is the most abundant element in the universe. We can obtain it from plentiful natural resources, including by means of renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

As well as creating no CO2 emissions when used, hydrogen fuel also has a higher energy density than electric batteries and is easy to transport and store. These qualities also make hydrogen a potential solution for supporting energy generation from renewable sources by compensating for uneven energy distribution and fluctuations in supply.

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A turning point for the low-carbon society of the future

A breakthrough in powertrain technology

We believe the hydrogen fuel cell system is a technological breakthrough with the potential to deliver sustainable, zero-emissions mobility as part of a low carbon society. We began our research and testing programme 20 years ago, about the same time we started work on Prius, and we are confident that we have succeeded in capturing the benefits hydrogen can offer in a vehicle that meets the needs of today’s customers. At the same time it addresses future concerns about air quality and sustainability. Going further, we think hydrogen can be more widely used as a valuable source of power both for the home and for industry.

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Answering the critics

“Fuel cell vehicles are too expensive”

Just like hybrid power, we know that it will take time for fuel cell cars to become established as a popular, mainstream choice. To make them accessible, we need to make sure they are affordable, too. During our development of Mirai, we were able to reduce the cost of our fuel cell system by 95%, compared to its predecessor, the 2008 FCHV-adv. We achieved this by making its components smaller, lighter, more efficient and cheaper to produce in volume. The system also shares many common parts with our hybrid models, including the electric motor, which saves cost and increases reliability. We are confident that, as with hybrids, fuel cell vehicles will become increasingly affordable as sales grow. In the years after 2020, we believe there could be tens of thousands on the world’s roads.

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“There is no dedicated infrastructure”

It is true that we are in the early stages of developing a network for making, distributing and selling hydrogen fuel. We know that providing these facilities is essential to support the first fuel cell vehicle customers and as a manufacturer we are active in promoting infrastructure development with industry and government partners. In Europe progress is under way, with around 80 refuelling stations being set up in the countries where the Mirai is being introduced, during its first year on sale, and hundreds more in the near future. As well as securing a good number of sites, it is important that these are strategically located, serving major cities and the principal routes that link them.

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“Hydrogen production relies on fossil fuels”

Hydrogen fuel can be obtained from many different sources that are in plentiful supply. In Europe, most hydrogen is currently produced from steam reforming, which uses natural gas as the source material, or from electrolysis which produces hydrogen out of water. It is already possible to use renewable sources, such as solar, wind or hydro power for the electrolysis process. This is key to ensure the “well to wheel” carbon performance of hydrogen is excellent. All hydrogen production in Denmark is from renewable sources and Germany and other countries are expected to adopt this “green” type of hydrogen production in the coming years.

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