Toyota’a Upcoming Fuel Cell Sedan Spotted Testing in Plaing Sight in Southern California

It isn’t due to launch in Japan until next spring and won’t go on sale in Europe and the U.S. until next summer, but that doesn’t mean Toyota’s Fuel Cell Sedan — rumoured to be called the Mirai — isn’t already being driven in full view around the world, as a sighting this weekend in Southern California proves.

Here's what the Toyota FCV looks like in a more staged setting.

Here’s what the Toyota FCV looks like in a more staged setting.

As GreenCarReports details, Edmunds.com Features Editor Mike Magrath was travelling on a freeway in Southern California over the weekend when he spotted an unusual-looking Toyota sharing the road with him. Unlike many test cars and prototypes, there wasn’t a single piece of camouflage to be seen, hiding the vehicle as it were in plain sight.

Unsure of what the car was, Magrath took to Twitter to ask his followers to identify the vehicle, thinking that perhaps it was a pre-production version of Toyota’s next-generation Prius hybrid.

It didn’t take long for his twitter followers to set him straight, identifying it as Toyota’s first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle. Wearing an all-black paint job, the Toyota FCV pre-production vehicle looks at home on the wide Californian freeway. From the front, it’s almost possible to mistake it for a run-of-the-mill Toyota Prius from a distance — if you squint —  although look a little closer and its large front fender with triangular vents and long narrow running lights at each side soon give the game away.  

Toyota FCV -- The kind of looks only a mother could love? (Photo: Mike Magrath, via Twitter)

Toyota FCV — The kind of looks only a mother could love? (Photo: Mike Magrath, via Twitter)

As for the rear? While the Toyota FCV looks far better in all-black than it does in the special blue paintwork we’ve seen it wear at all of Toyota’s official press events, the flattering effects of black only go so far. Even in black, the Toyota FCV has the kind of looks only a mother could love. Or if you prefer, as Twitter user @DariusKolarz puts it:

Ugly or handsome however, it’s good to see the Toyota FCV being given a shakedown on the roads of California. Although it won’t go on sale in the U.S. until next summer as a compliance car, California will be its number one sales market due to California’s tough zero emissions vehicle mandate requiring automakers to produce and sell a specific percentage of zero tailpipe emission vehicles in the state in order to be able to sell gasoline models there too.

With California the only state currently committed to spending any money on setting up hydrogen refuelling infrastructure on a large enough scale to practically support the initial rollout of hydrogen fuel cell cars, the $70,000+ limited-production Toyota FCV will remain a unusual sight on the highways and byways of the U.S. long after it officially goes on sale.

But having seen it on the roads rather than on a display, we’re keen to see what you think of it. Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Michael Thwaite

    Do Japanese people find this car attractive? Is it just a cultural thing that the west isn’t in-sync with or, are they simply very, very bad at design? I’ve lanced boils with more sex appeal than that.

  • Nate Crawford

    I saw this going south on the 73 in Irvine an hour ago. What initially drew my eye was a brief puff of white coming from underneath, like an ICE with oil-burning issues. The Michigan plates and lack of badges made me think it could be a FCEV getting tested. Do we know if the water exhaust is continuous?nnnDefinitely looks better in black. It helps to hide the gaping fish face.

  • CDspeed

    Of course it was spotted in Southern California, you wouldn’t be able to fill it up anywhere else unless you had a hydrogen tanker truck following it.

  • Surya

    I’m surprised this guy didn’t know this was the FCV.

  • vdiv

    Gah! My eyes! My poor beady shortsighted eyes!nnPlease, take it away, pretty please, oh so much please!

  • D. Harrower

    Toyota has obviously ignored what Tesla made so obvious; if you make an appealing vehicle, people will buy it, regardless of how its powered.nnIt looks like they went in the opposite direction here; “Buy it, if you dare!”

  • $931767

    Now I know you have to make it look different because it is, but those enormous nostrals in the front are way over the top unless they need to be that big. Anyone know?