Toyota launching first hydrogen vehicles

A big step in car technology

Toyota has announced it will begin selling fuel cell cars next month, taking a first small step into the unproven market for emissions-free, hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The four-door Toyota Mirai – that runs on compressed hydrogen gas without emitting exhaust – will be available in Japan on December 15 and in the US and Europe in mid-2015, the world’s largest automaker said on Tuesday.

This is what Toyota said about their fuel cell experiment in the pre-launch video:

“Today, we are at a turning point in automotive history where people will embrace a new, environmentally-friendly car that is a pleasure to drive. A turning point where a four-door sedan can travel 500km on a single tank of hydrogen, can be refuelled in under five minutes and emit only water vapour.

“A turning point that represents many years and countless hours of work by our team to create a car that redefines the industry. All of us at Toyota believe in a future that will be safer, greener and easier for everyone.

“We imagined a world filled with vehicles that would diminish our dependence on oil and reduce harm to the environment. It was a bold, but inspiring, goal – today it is a reality.”

Mirai, which means future in Japanese, can travel 650 to 700 kilometres on its two tanks of hydrogen. Hydrogen may be more expensive than gas initially, because there are so few customers but, over time, Toyota expects it will be cheaper to run a car on hydrogen than with gas.

Yoshikazu Tanaka, deputy chief engineer for Toyota’s next generation vehicle development, said he expects it will take 10-20 years for the Mirai to reach sales in the tens of thousands of vehicles a year.