Following on from an initial unveiling last year, Toyota has detailed its second-generation Mirai. In case you missed it, the Mirai is the Japanese company's hydrogen-fuelled production car, using a fuel cell to produce electricity, emitting only water. This new version has been substantially improved over the rather gangly original, which explains how Toyota hopes for a ten-fold increase in sales numbers around the world.
Much-improved fuel cell stack
Integration of many components within the fuel cell stack frame has enabled Toyota to reduce the overall size and weight of the installation. It quotes a 50 per cent weight decrease and a 21 per cent reduction in size. At the same time, power output has increased, from 114kW before, to 128kW. Toyota also claims that the fuel cell can start up even in temperatures as low as minus thirty degrees Celsius. The fuel cell stack is mounted under the bonnet at the front of the Mirai and fuel comes from a set of three tanks (one more than before), allowing storage of up to 5.6kg of hydrogen and, according to Toyota, a 30 per cent increase in range - to about 650 kilometres. It takes only minutes to fill the tanks.
Meanwhile, a lithium-ion battery replaces the previous car's nickel-metal hydride unit. The new battery is lighter and smaller, but has a higher energy capacity and higher output. It's mounted behind the rear seats, above the electric motor/generator, making the car rear-drive. That motor is a permanent magnet synchronous design rated to 182hp and 300Nm of torque. Toyota claims that the new Mirai can do 0-100km/h in 9.2 seconds, with a top speed of 175km/h.
A desirable Mirai?
The above improvements have been mostly made possible by the move to Toyota's modular 'GA-L' platform, bringing with it improvements to packaging and, theoretically, driving dynamics. It also contributes to the rather more attractive look of the car, which has a 'cab-back' appearance. It's considerably lower than before, much longer in the wheelbase and sits on a wider track, all to the benefit of the Mirai's stance and its weight distribution. Alloy wheels of up to 20 inches in diameter can also be fitted, while the five-seat cabin looks as luxurious as any in the Toyota range.
Hydrogen power in Ireland
At the time of writing, there are no plans to offer the Toyota Mirai for general sale in Ireland. Some examples of the Mirai will come here in 2022 on a limited basis, most likely leased to a taxi or fleet company with access to a centralised hydrogen filling station - in a bid to obtain real-world data on its use. The Mirai may be too expensive for most buyers to buy outright, but more than that, the hydrogen filling network is still very limited. There are several projects under way to change that, and it's likely that road haulage will pioneer hydrogen use as a fuel in Ireland. If that results in more widespread use of hydrogen, it will pave the way for fuel cell powered passenger vehicles of the future, a future Toyota is convinced will feature hydrogen in our cars.
Steve Tormey, Chief Executive of Toyota Ireland, commented on the announcement: "The new Mirai represents a major step forward in sustainable motoring, emitting only water from the tail pipe, and going beyond zero emissions by cleaning the air as it moves. We are very excited about bringing the new Mirai to Ireland, and are looking to bring in demonstrator models next year. Hydrogen fuel cell can play a pivotal role in moving us towards a carbon-free environment and it is a real game changer for the health and wellbeing of our planet and future generations."