Toyota Shows Itself Up With Badly-Conceived Ad for Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Sedan

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.

Toyota's latest Mirai ad campaign isn't all that clever.

Toyota’s latest Mirai ad campaign isn’t all that clever.

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.

Toyota's ad makes a statement that is true of 98% of all cars on the road today.

Toyota’s ad makes a statement that is true of 98% of all cars on the road today.

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.

This is the only Toyota that doesn't breathe in air...

This is the only Toyota that doesn’t breathe in air in order to move itself along.

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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  • Surya

    The people coming up with the ads are screwing up. So are the people approving them.nnI think the main reason they keep at it is that for most people these ads work. They see the add, don’t ask questions and think that Toyota is doing superior work. They never read articles like this one that point out the facts they got wrong or the fallacys they contain. So mission completed for Toyota.

  • JohnCBriggs

    Meh, their statement is accurate.nnIt also fits right in with their Toyota Yaris taglinen “It’s a car”nnI’m serious, that is their tagline for the Yaris.

    • NotRappaport

      That reminds me of the 1980s slogan of what then was a truly dreadful airline:nnn”Delta gets you there.”

  • And when we biological organisms breather, we don’t leave poisonous, filthy and deadly carbon monoxide (CO) behind, or nitrogen compounds. nnThe reason for those vents, which I see on many new cars, is because half the “fuel” is air itself (melded with hydrogen in the secure tanks).nnAnother great step for Toyota towards the one truly clean solution. Hydrogen.nnAnyone with a child or two would want a hydrogen car driving by their schools.

    • Maxwell Erickson

      H2 vehicles are really great at producing pollution, unless you believe fracking natural gas is absolutely safe for the environment.

    • Most hydrogen fuel is coming from natural gas, so HFCVs are not that clean. You can get it from water, but at a MUCH higher energy cost. So, I can expend about 60 kWh of electricty to make a kg of hydrogen and drive less than 50 miles, or I can charge my Leaf with the same amount of electricty about three times and drive about 200 miles.

  • CDspeed

    A car with round wheels for a smooth ride : )

  • D. Harrower

    I know what Toyota is trying to say, but I don’t agree with their reasoning.nnI don’t consider requiring air for operation to be an advantage. It’s much better to be able to operate without it.nnIt’s kind of like a superhero bragging about not being able to see through walls. “Hey everyone, I have the same limitations as you, but I expect to be treated as exceptional”