Toyota will carefully select prospective customers out of a pool of enthusiastic hand-raisers.

Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Sedan Attracts 600 Hand-Raisers In 10 Days Says Toyota

When an automaker brings a new vehicle to market, there’s often a pre-ordering process for eager customers to express an interest in finding out more about that vehicle. While not every new car launch comes with such a process, it’s become more common of late, especially for cutting-edge alternative-fuel and limited-production vehicles.

In its latest infomercial, Toyota shows how you can electrolyze water to produce hydrogen.

Toyota has 600 hand-raisers so far for its hydrogen fuel cell sedan.

Indeed, if you were following the green car scene back in 2010, you’ll know that both Nissan and General Motors both offered online reservation systems where potential customers could register their interest in the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt plug-in cars. More recently, BMW offered a similar online registration system for customers eager to find out more about its i3 and i3 REx electric cars.

Now that same process is being used by Toyota to gauge interest in its 2015 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan, a vehicle which Toyota hopes will be as revolutionary to the automotive world as the Toyota Prius hybrid was when it made its global debut back in 1998.

Yet ten days after launching an online registration service where interested customers can raise their hand for more information on driving Toyota’s first production hydrogen fuel cell sedan, only 600 customers have registered.

That’s an average of 60 people per day. Assuming a steady rate of enquiries — something we note is mathematically fraught with problems — that translates to an equivalent of roughly 1,826 hand-raisers per month.

“That’s everyone that has gone to and requested a vehicle (since July 20),” company spokeswoman Jana Hartline told WardsAuto at the end of last week.

Nissan initially used an on-line hand-raising system to drum up interest for its LEAF electric car.

Nissan initially used an on-line hand-raising system to drum up interest for its LEAF electric car.

Demographically, Toyota says the majority of those 600 hand-raisers fit the stereotypical first-wave, early adopter.
“The typical early adopters, the tech savvy… is what w’ere seeing for Mirai,” confirmed Hartline.

That’s the same type of people who were among early hand-raisers for electric cars like the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt: educated, affluent tech-savvy buyers who want to be on the cutting edge

When it goes on sale this October, the Mirai will only be available at just eight dealerships in California: four in the Greater Los Angeles area, and four in the San Francisco Bay area. Costing $57,700 for an outright purchase, Toyota is also making the Mirai available on a special 36-month lease deal for $499 per month with $3,649 due at signing.

That is slightly more expensive than the lease deal for the Mirai’s biggest competitor, the 2015 Hyundai Tucson FCV. Sold at a similarly select group of dealerships in southern California, Hyundai’s fuel cell SUV is available for lease only for a cost of $499 per month for 36 months, with $2,999 due at signing.

WardsAuto says Toyota expects around 90 percent of its initial Mirai sales to be leased rather than purchased, although it doesn’t quote the expected split between private and corporate customers. Since the Mirai launched in its home market of Japan earlier this year, the overwhelming Marjory of vehicle sales have been to corporate and fleet buyers rather than private individuals.

Toyota opened the online sign-up form for the Mirai on July 20.

Toyota opened the online sign-up form for the Mirai on July 20.

Between this fall and the end of 2017, Toyota says it has reserved 3,000 Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the U.S. market, with sales restricted initially to California and then expanded to include part of the U.S. East Coast.

Here at Transport Evolved, we’d like to remind readers that as with pre-ordering for the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 before it, not all customers expressing an interest in the Toyota Mirai at this stage will end up finding themselves buying the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Indeed, Toyota’s list is currently for customers to express an interest in buying the car, not a commitment to buy. Of those 600 people thus far, some will be discounted by Toyota as being unsuitable for owning the hydrogen fuel cell sedan, while others will make their own decisions not to continue with their purchase.

In other words, hand-raising does not naturally translate to sales.

As for the volume? That’s harder to gauge. While 600 registrations in 10 days may seem reasonable enough, Nissan took just  over five months to accrue 20,000 hand-raisers for the Nissan LEAF back in 2010, an average of 130 people per day.

Toyota's biggest challenge remains infrastructure.

Toyota’s biggest challenge remains infrastructure.

At launch, it too was considered a low-volume, niche-market car, and still is by many in the automotive world.

Regardless of the number of hand-raisers however, Toyota’s biggest challenge isn’t getting customers: it’s readying the necessary hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in its key market areas ahead of the Mirai’s October launch.

Without it, Toyota may find that getting hand-raisers will be the lease of its worries.


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  • Dennis Pascual

    Based on the criteria of the report…

    I’m one of the 600 hand raisers. I got my “you’ve been approved” by Toyota message on Friday after a 20 minute phone conversation. Waiting for test drive to write my blog post on this. I give it a 1% chance of us adding a Mirai to the garage.

    • Joe Viocoe

      Did you have to put any money down?

      • Dennis Pascual

        Not yet. I was assigned to a dealership. That dealership called. I asked if they have the car in for test drives. They said, it was just there. So, I told them to call me back when the car is in the dealership for test drives before I even consider to take the next step.

        • Joe Viocoe

          what dealership, if I may?

          • Dennis Pascual

            I will publicize in a post after I go through the process and have a better idea of the whole thing.
            There are a very limited number of choices in Northern and Southern California for the program. Go to the Toyota website and you will see.

    • Surya

      Ah, looking forward to that post.

      On what do you base your 1% chance?

      • Dennis Pascual

        The fact that I rarely ever count something out completely without giving it a “chance” and the lack of a test drive is that 1%. I actually live less than ten miles from a “planned” hydrogen station, so, that “should” alleviate fueling concerns. However, I live 0 miles from 4 EV plugs @ home for two EVs, so there’s that.

        • Surya

          Makes sense 🙂

  • Joe Viocoe

    “That’s everyone that has gone to Toyota dott com/Mirai and requested a vehicle (since July 20),”

    “Of those 600 people thus far, some will be discounted by Toyota as being unsuitable…”

    Wait… so that number is BEFORE Toyota scrubs the list based on geographic proximity to a working H2 station?
    I would bet that a significant percentage of the folks who merely click on the “request a vehicle” link… don’t even realize that they don’t live near a Hydrogen station, or otherwise assume one will be built near them soon.

    Normally, a web based interest gauge like this would only convert about 25% of the hand raisers into actual customers… but with this extra criteria of limiting to narrow areas based on H2 fueling… I would say that we could expect single digit percentages, if not fractions of a percent.

    • So maybe 6 hot prospects?

      It’s just very hard to be enthused about FCEVs until we have a proven clean source for the fuel that can scale to a large fleet. Maybe those fusion reactors that have been promised by 2020 will pan out and make clean hydrogen as common as dirty gasoline. If so, Toyota et. al. will cash in. I suspect their odds would be better plunking the money invested in FCEV on 00 on a roulette wheel, though. *shrugs*

  • Mark Benjamin David

    Toyota is really getting on my nerves with all this media on the Marai, a car we don’t want, while the 2012-14 Rav4 EV, of which they made more than they plan to of the Marai, and we want more of, got zero media. I hope hydrogen fails so hard they all give up by the time the Tesla Model 3, higher range Leaf and the “Bolt” begin to sell (and likely a VW). Those automakers in the hydrogen camp at that time will be hard pressed to make any money, as, BEVs will have longer range, lower prices, and more charging infrastructure for longer trips will all be in a much better place than hydrogen will ever be, not to mention the fuel cost. No one will want hydrogen cars when they have to pay more than gasoline to drive it, while BEV owners pay less, (or much less), than gas and have much more convenience.

    I just feel like any government money spent on hydrogen fuel cell cars is a total waste. We’ve known since the 1970s that battery electric cars are the best route to go. I don’t want hydrogen infrastructure, it belongs in rockets, not ground transportation. Period. Total waste. That money should go to battery electric car development and DC charging infrastructure…they should have these at all Rest Areas, for starters.

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