2016 Toyota Mirai: Paving the hydrogen highway
Toyota's Fuel Cell Vehicle, which was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show last year, now has a name: Mirai, which means "future" in Japanese. This new production model lays out Toyota's vision for hydrogen as the future fuel for automobiles. The Mirai is a midsize 4-door sedan said to have a range of 300 miles on a single tank of compressed hydrogen. Designed to be fun to drive, Mirai's fuel cell stack produces 153 horsepower enabling it to reach 60 mph in about nine seconds. It's also expected to be as quiet as a Lexus hybrid. An interesting feature of the Mirai is that in the event of an emergency, the car can serve as a generator. There's an outlet in the trunk for that purpose, and the Mirai can power appliances in a home for up to a week.
It takes about five minutes to fill the tank, and the only emission from the fuel cell is water vapor. Toyota is helping companies that are developing the hydrogen infrastructure, so the number of refueling stations will continue to increase.
One of the biggest standout features of the 2016 Toyota Mirai is its styling. When the Prius arrived in the U.S., the reason for its looks was twofold: functional necessity, plus the goal of making the Prius look unlike anything else on the road. The Mirai uses a similar mix of form and function. The front end's shape helps draw in air. Both the roof and underbody ensure air flows smoothly over and under the car, improving aerodynamics. And you can't confuse the Mirai for any other car out there.
That mix of form and function is also apparent inside. Along the top of the dash there's a widescreen showcasing several key pieces of information, including range, speed and the "Ready" indicator that indicates the car is running. For one section of the display, you can toggle through different screens by using buttons on the steering wheel. The most useful is the power/regeneration screen, which is similar to the one you'd find in a Prius. As your eyes move down the center stack, there are unique swooping flourishes that break up the black dash. The car's shifter is nearly identical to the Prius. Below that is the climate control, which doesn't use knobs or buttons. There are two sliders, one for the driver and one for the passenger. You run your finger along the slider to raise or lower the temperature. Despite some similar components, this isn't a Prius interior; it's more luxurious. The dash and doors use generous amounts of soft-touch materials, the seats are covered in exceptionally soft leather and there are carbon fiber accents.
The 2016 Mirai will come with concierge service that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Three years of Toyota Care maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance are included, and the warranty on the fuel cell components is for 8 years/100,000 miles. On sale first next month in Japan, Mirai sales roll out in regionally in the U.S. a year from now with about 200 units in California, followed by the Northeast in 2016 as production ramps up. Shoppers will have a choice of buying or leasing the $57,500 Mirai. Toyota expects most customers will opt for the $499 per month for 36 months lease plan. However, that price is before incentives, which could bring the price down to under $45,000.
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