It’s official: following on from its Japanese market debut next spring, the 2016 Toyota Mirai, Toyota’s first mass-produce hydrogen fuel cell car, will go on sale in California next fall priced from $57,500 before incentives, with free fuel for “up to three years” included.
Buy, or lease
Announced yesterday evening at a special Toyota press conference held in Los Angeles ahead of the official start of the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Japanese automaker detailed both production specifications for the four-seat hydrogen fuel cell sedan and put to bed speculation that the Toyota Mirai would only be offered as a lease-only car.
Priced at $57,500 before Federal and State incentives, early-adopters will be able to buy the Toyota Mirai outright, or opt to take advantage of a leasing package developed by Toyota with a headline price of $499 per month for 36 months and $3,649 due at signing.
Opt to buy outright and generous federal tax credits and California state incentives reduce that price to $44,500 at the time of writing, although we should note that the $8,000 Federal Tax Credit currently available for hydrogen fuel cell cars is due to expire at the end of 2014 — and there’s no sign yet that it will be renewed. Given Toyota won’t be delivering its first Fuel Cell Sedan to a U.S. Customer until late next year, we’re not quite sure if Toyota’s claim of being able to buy a Toyota Mirai for less than $45,000 will actually be possible, but that isn’t stopping Toyota from using this particular price to gain it column inches.
Regardless of how those early adopters buy their Toyota Mirai however, Toyota has said it will provide free hydrogen fuel to its initial group of Mirai customers for up to three years, as well as offering what it calls a “360 Ownership Experience,” which includes a 24/7 concierge service manned by trained fuel cell representatives, 24-hour roadside assistance, and three-years of Toyota Care maintenance, which covers the first three years of recommended servicing.
In, addition there’s an 8-year, 100,000 mile warranty as with other alternative fuel vehicles in California, covering everything from the fuel cell battery pack and power electronics through to the fuel cell air compressor, hydrogen tanks and fuel cell stack. Other non-FCV parts of the car’s drivetrain are covered by a smaller 5-year, 60,000 mile warranty, while a 3-year, 36,000 mile ‘Basic’ warranty covers everything else on the car.
Being zero emissions, the Toyota Mirai will also be eligible for California’s coveted white HOV-lane access decal, giving Toyota Mirai owners unlimited access to High Occupancy Lanes even if they’re the only person in the car.
Thanks to its free fuel offer, it’s clear that Toyota is keen to entice would-be plug-in car owners away from plug-in cars and towards hydrogen fuel cell technology. And while the Mirai is heading into a price bracket somewhere between the BMW i3 electric car and entry-level Tesla Model S sedan, its performance isn’t all that exciting.
Despite having an on-board 114 kilowatt fuel cell stack providing power to the 113 kilowatt electric motor driving the front wheels, the Toyota Mirai’s 4,078.5 pound curb weight — just 569 pounds lighter than the super-quick Tesla Model S electric car — means that its power to weight ratio isn’t all that great. As a consequence, 0-60 mph takes 9 seconds, a little slower than the 2015 Chevrolet Volt and almost a second faster than the 2015 Nissan LEAF. Top speed meanwhile, is limited to 111 mph.
Like Toyota’s Concept FCV, the Toyota Mirai features not one but two hydrogen tanks, which Toyota says will store a total of 5 kilograms of compressed hydrogen at around 10,000 psi (70MPa). When used with a suitable high-pressure refuelling station, Toyota says refuelling should take around 5 minutes from empty. On that, it claims a range of around 300 miles should be possible.
It’s worth noting too that the Toyota Mirai’s on-board traction battery pack — which offers backup power to the electric motor under heavy demand and acts as a place to store energy captured during regenerative braking — uses the same nickel metal hydride battery chemistry Toyota has used in its Prius family of hybrids for the past fifteen years.
A tough sell
Despite the headline price and massive incentives however, the Toyota Mirai will still prove something of a tough sell, something Toyota acknowledges with the admittance that only 200 Toyota Mirais are earmarked for the U.S. market next year. Even by the end of 2017, by which point Tesla should have launched its promised $35,000 ‘affordable’ 300-mile Tesla Model ≡ electric car, Toyota says it expects to have sold just 3,000 Miari fuel cell sedans in the U.S.
With such limited refuelling, four rather than five seats, and a range of just 300 miles per fill, the Toyota Mirai isn’t a mainstream hydrogen fuel cell car by any stretch of the imagination. Like the first-generation Toyota Prius and to some extend the first generation Nissan LEAF, its owners will be early adopters who are willing to pay the high sticker price in order to be the first in the country to drive a hydrogen fuel cell car.
What do you think of the Toyota Mirai? Are you surprised by the lower-than expected sticker price? Do you think Toyota is going after Tesla with its free hydrogen fuel offer? Or will the Mirai be a car that only Hollywood A-listers and business moguls will drive?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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