As we’ve said before, today is 21 October 2015, the day that Doc Brown and Marty McFly visit in the 1989 hit film Back to the Future II. As a consequence, we’ve seen a lot of BTTF-themed news stories today, including the one we told you about earlier on involving a self-driving all-electric DeLorean.
But last night at a special gala event in Los Angeles, Toyota used its own BTTF connections to officially launch its Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan in the U.S., handing over ceremonial keys to owners representing each of the eight dealerships where the limited-production, hand-built cars will be available. The real keys — and the cars they will be linked with — will be handed over to the early-adopters in the near future, Toyota promised.
In tribute to the blockbuster film trilogy, Toyota’s engineers even built two special vehicles for the occasion: a modern recreation of Marty McFly’s lifted Toyota pickup truck using the recently-launched 2016 Toyota Tacoma; and a gull wing Toyota Mirai fuel cell sedan.
During the event, which featured a panel on the future of hydrogen fuel cell technology led by CNET’s Brian Cooley, Nerdist CEO Chris Hardwick, Mirai engineers Jackie Birdsall and Edward Eyth, creative designer for BTTF II, Toyota also played its full-length BTTF-themed episode of Fueled by Everything in which the film’s stars Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd are shown how the Toyota Mirai FCV can fun on methane produced through garbage decomposition.
The video, now available on YouTube, makes some nice references to the film, placing the BTTF-mad Toyota engineer in a suitable raised, Marty McFly-approved Toyota Tacoma, and including a not-to-scale mockup of Hill Valley for the engineer to use when explaining to Fox and Lloyd how trash collected around the town can be used to power the ‘futuristic’ Mirai.
In keeping with Toyota’s other Fueled by Everything videos — which show how hydrogen can be generated using a variety of different methods from electrolysing water through to reforming the gasses given off by decomposing cow manure — Toyota eagerly shows how in this case, decomposing rubbish gives off methane gas which can be collected and then reformed to produce hydrogen.
As part of the process, it describes how that methane, when combined with natural gas, a fossil fuel, can be reformed into hydrogen using a lengthy industrial process, but glosses over the substantial carbon footprint involved in the energy-intensive steam reforming process.
It’s this glossing over of the details which has led many to criticize Toyota for all but ignoring the carbon footprint of the majority of hydrogen produced today, while eagerly attacking electric cars for the same.
Regardless on your position concerning that carbon footprint however, we think you’ll agree with us on one thing.
The Toyota Mirai is pretty cool when it has a set of gullwing doors, although Tesla’s Model X falcon wing doors still win overall.
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