2018 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell
An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia
This is the 2018 Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell sedan. Many car makers have been producing Hydrogen Fuel Cell concept cars since the late 1990’s. I first test drove the Hy Wire from General Motors in the early 2000s.
Now, it is clear to me, this is a technology that has gone from concept to production for public consumption. Yes, it is a little pricey but that is always expected in the early years but there are work-arounds to own and drive this exciting ‘electric’ car. Yes, it is an electric car – not an internal combustion powered vehicle.
I was less anxious about refueling with the Fuel Cell car than with an all-electric car. Electric require anywhere from 45 minutes to 24 hours to recharge. It only takes 5 minutes to refuel a Hydrogen car. Remember, this is simply an electric car with an on board charging system including regenerative charging from braking. There is even a shift select labeled Br so you can recharge when going downhill as in driving in the mountains where descending will allow recharging and afford some braking. That is much like an internal combustion engine car where you can use the engine to slow you by using lower gears.
Assembly- Toyota, Aichi, Japan; Classification is- Subcompact; Vehicles from Toyota- 4Runner, 86, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, Prius V, RAV4, RAV4 Hybrid, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma Access Cab, Tacoma Double Cab, Tundra CrewMax, Tundra Double Cab, Tundra Regular Cab, Yaris and Yaris iA.
Handling & Performance:
This is nearly the same as any other electric car. Quick acceleration and a smooth quiet ride. It holds about 5 kg (kilograms) of hydrogen fuel at about 11 lbs at a cost of about $14.50 to $16.00 a Kilo. I found the fuel usage to be pretty accurate but because of the limited number of refueling stations you have to plan ahead to know where all stations are located and that fit your travel needs and habits. One tank of fuel takes you about 260 miles.
Here’s how it works:
Futuristic which is in line with much of the designs of today.
Fit and Finish:
There is no question most will find a Fuel Cell car are similar in cost to purchase of the competition noted here. The cost of Hydrogen is more expensive than gas / diesel, or Hybrid power systems.
Conveniences and comfort:
Generally, you can have all the great high tech features available on most other cars. I also found it to be an exceptionally smooth and quiet ride.
Although there are only about 35 refueling stations in California at this time, there are that many under construction and those I’ve been to are on the property (leased space) of gas / diesel stations like Chevron and ARCO. What that tells me is that the infrastructure is expanding faster than Rapid Electric Charge stations – (45 minutes for an 80% charge). Not my idea of ‘rapid’.
The competition noted includes Hybrid offerings and that puts the Mirai in the company of pricey similar transportation cars. However, this newly available Fuel Cell technology electric car market is still evolving. This Mirai is currently available to purchase or lease arrangements, which I would prefer and found that to be the usual case for those I interviewed at refueling stations. Generally, the lease includes fuel and maintenance and may vary with each manufacturer. One man I spoke with who was driving a Mirai had a lease which included $15,000 in fuel during the lease period.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars published:
• 2007 – Honda FCX Clarity
• 2010 – Mercedes-Benz
• 2014 – Hyundai Tucson
• 2015 – Toyota Mirai .
• 2016 – Riversimple Rasa.
• 2016 – Honda Clarity
• 2018 – Hyundai Nexo.
I have only written about the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Car, but would like to test drive more of the above listed production cars. Note: contact me if you are driving a Fuel Cell car and what your experience has been.
|Brand||$$$ Cost||MPG||Seating||Doors||Country of Origin||Assembled|
|BMW 5 Series||54,000||72||5||4||Korea||Korea|
New technology that has come of age. Emissions are water and so pure that it is said you can even drink it.
More expensive than conventional cars of today.
Toyota Fuel Cell system, 151 horsepower, Electric motor, power and ECO modes, stability and traction controls, ABS electronic brake system with Brake force distribution and brake assist, smart stop technology, Safety and emergency connect assistance, stolen vehicle locator, roadside assistance, radar cruise control with pre-collision system, lane departure alert, blind spot detection / monitor with rear cross traffic alert, carbon fiber reinforced polymer, fuel cell stack protective structure and Hydrogen storage tanks, eight airbags, 17” alloy wheels, LED headlights with auto high beam, auto folding and heated mirrors, rain sensing wipers, 7” touch screen with backup camera, Siri eyes free, Wifi connect powered by Verizon, Sirius XM radio, Bluetooth Hands-free and Music streaming, smart key system with push button start, power windows, heated front seats, USB, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel.
67 combined City and Highway MPG
$3.79 / Gal of gas avg. October 12, 2018
$14-16.00 per Kg (Kilo) of Hydrogen
for more information.
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