Toyota Builds Special GullWing Mirai Concept For Official Back to the Future-Themed Launch Event

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.

It's not a DeLorean, but it's still pretty cool. We'd like all Mirais to have Gull Wing Doors

It’s not a DeLorean, but it’s still pretty cool. We’d like all Mirais to have Gull Wing Doors

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.

A panel took place at the launch event to discuss the future of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

A panel took place at the launch event to discuss the future of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

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.

Toyota says the early adopters in California will get their cars very shortly.

Toyota says the early adopters in California will get their cars very shortly.

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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  • KIMS

    The controversy over how/where to get hydrogen not withstanding, I hope Toyota succeeds right alongside ‘normal’ EV’s.
    As fuel-cell technology continues to develop, I think there will be many synergistic opportunities between the two types, and just like we have started to see spin-off’s from Tesla (with their home battery), so too will there be spin-offs from this.

    • Michael Thwaite

      Like big H2 ships to displace the diesel ones that we have today – I’d vote for that.

  • Observations:
    1. Toyota truck has more air time in short promo than the FCV.
    2. “natural gas from the grid” … “this suckers electrical” (3:18). Really?
    3. The “OUTATIME” plate … Out-A-Time, sounds like Out-of-Time. (3:53+)

  • The video editor put engine noise to the FCV (4:28) 😀

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