In the past few years, we’ve seen Japanese automaker Toyota try really hard to convince the world that hybrid car technology — and more recently hydrogen fuel cell car technology — are the only two logical choices for vehicles of the future.
Through a series of ad campaigns across a variety of different media, it and its luxury brand Lexus have tried hard to make plug-in vehicles seem slow, boring and impossible to own, mangaing to make some pretty outrageous claims which aren’t factually correct in order to do so. Lexus even ran an ad trying to prove that its CT200h hybrid was better than BMW’s i3 electric car since it wouldn’t need to spend hours charging, only for eagle-eyed BMW i3 owners to loudly point out that the car used in the filming of the ad was in fact a range-extended BMW i3 REx, a car which can use gasoline to extend its range when required.
Given its past experience, you’d think that Toyota’s marketing team would be on the lookout to ensure similarly silly gaffes didn’t enter the public domain, but then at the end of Feburary, Toyota published a new online ad for its 2016 Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Sedan which demonstrates that its ad team really aren’t car people.
As Jalopnik (Via GreenCarReports) explains, the latest ad for the $57,500 hydrogen fuel cell car shows a parked Toyota Mirai nose-on to emphasise its large lower grille, along with a tagline “A car that breathes in air.” There’s no other text or information.
It is, of course, a reference to the fact that the Toyota Mirai’s fuel cell stack works by combining the hydrogen stored within its twin hydrogen fuel tanks with oxygen from the outside air to produce electricity and water.
That, technically, means that the tagline is correct. Sadly however, it also implies that the Mirai is the first car which uses air in order to help it move along the road. As anyone with even a passing knowledge of how internal combustion engines work will tell you however, air is a prerequisite for combustion to take place.
In a gasoline engine, air is mixed with a small amount of vaporized fuel, then compressed and ignited via a spark plug, causing a controlled explosion that pushes down on the top of a cylinder, converting the explosion into mechanical energy which eventually powers the wheels.
In a diesel engine, the process is almost identical, but diesel fuel is mixed with the air and compressed to a point where the vaporised fuel-air mixture self-ignites, without the need for a spark plug.
Without air, neither engine can run. In fact, of all the fuel types on the market today, only an electric vehicle can operate without the presence of any air. It’s why electric cars don’t always have grilles, but every other type of car — including a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle — needs one.
Editorial note: If you’re wondering why some electric cars do have grilles and radiators, it’s because air is often used to help cool down power-electronics, or to help on-board air conditioning or heat-pump systems to work correctly.
In other words, Toyota’s ad campaign might have just as easily said of the Mirai that it was “a car with four wheels.”
We rest our case.
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