Continuing the slow global rollout of its first production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, Japanese automaker Toyota has just confirmed that a handful of 2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell cars have made landfall at various ports across Europe.
Not due to go on sale until later this year, the first five Mirai fuel cell cars to land in Europe at Bristol UK and Zeebrugge Belgium, will be used as technology demonstrator vehicles and spend a fair amount of their time on various evaluation fleets with high-value fleet customers.
Due to officially launch in September in the UK, Germany and Denmark, Toyota still hasn’t yet been given an official NEDC fuel economy rating for European markets. But in its press release announcing the landfall of the five first Mirai fuel cell sedans to enter Europe, Toyota did disclose pricing for German buyers: €66,000 + VAT.
Unlike Japan, where an unbelievable ¥3 million ($24,120) discount is applied to the sticker price of each and every Toyota Mirai in the form of Government-backed subsidies for hydrogen fuel cell cars, Germany does not yet have any plans to offer incentives to reduce the sticker price of the Mirai.
Add on the standard 19 percent purchase tax levied on all cars in Germany, and the gross price of the Mirai in Germany reaches an eye-watering €78,540 ($87,532) making it some €4340 ($4836) more expensive than the entry-level Tesla Model S 70.
The Mirai’s German sticker price — when converted to U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate — is more than a 50 percent price increase on the U.S. sticker price for the same vehicle.
Because each Mirai is mostly hand-built at the former Lexus LFA works in Toyota City Japan, global production figures for the Mirai are tiny. Globally, just 700 Mirais will be built this year, with 2,000 due to be produced during 2016. Even by the end of 2017, annual production figures will only total 3,000 cars per year.
Those limited-production figures, along with massive interest from governments and big businesses keen to demonstrate their environmental policies through the purchase of Toyota’s halo hydrogen car, means that Toyota has already sold out of cars for the UK for the rest of this year, with anyone wanting to own a Mirai facing something of an uphill struggle to even get a test drive.
The matter of limited availability is something that Toyota is painfully aware of, but in a clever piece of PR, Toyota is eager to set the Mirai up as following in the tire tracks of the very first Toyota Prius sedans which entered into the UK back in 2000.
Indeed, it even brought a 2000 Toyota Prius from its own UK heritage fleet to the port of Bristol to meet the three Mirai fuel cell sedans making landfall in the country.
“This marks the debut of a new age for clean mobility — a turning point in the history of automobiles,” said Karl Schlicht, Executive Vice-President of Toyota Motor Europe. “With Mirai, Toyota is working on bringing clean, safe and enjoyable mobility for the next 100 years, thanks to fuel cell technology. We are looking forward to the start of delivery of the first Mirai to customers from September and to see the future taking shape on European roads. As with Prius 15 years ago, we are proud to bring yet another groundbreaking innovation to Europe with Mirai”.
While those early Toyota Prius hybrids had to challenge stereotypes about electrified transportation and convince buyers that its tiny 1.4-litre CVT transmission and electric motor could deliver fuel economy never-before seen, the Mirai will have to convince buyers of even more.
As well as convincing them that the high-end sticker price is worth it compared to far more affordable zero emission electric cars, Toyota will need to convince buyers that switching to hydrogen fuel — a fuel source which is still extremely tough to get hold of across most of Europe — is best for the long-term.
Given the reliability challenges facing hydrogen fuel stations across the world — and the ever-expanding network of free Supercharger stations being offered by Tesla Motors for those who buy the Tesla Model S luxury sedan — we’re not sure Toyota’s task this time is as easy as it might seem.
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