The Toyota Mirai is not your typical electric car. It runs on hydrogen, a clean and abundant fuel that can be produced from renewable sources. Unlike battery-powered cars, the Mirai can be refueled in minutes and has a range of over 400 miles. And the only emission from its tailpipe is water.
The Mirai, which means “future” in Japanese, is Toyota’s flagship vehicle for its vision of a hydrogen society where hydrogen is used to power homes, businesses, and transportation. Toyota has been developing hydrogen fuel cell technology for over two decades and launched the first-generation Mirai in 2015. Since then, the company has sold more than 11,000 units worldwide, mostly in California, Japan, and Europe.
But the Mirai is not just a science project. It’s a luxurious and stylish sedan that offers a smooth and quiet ride, a spacious and comfortable interior, and advanced safety and entertainment features. The second-generation Mirai, which debuted in late 2020, is a major improvement over the previous model, with a sleeker design, more power, better handling, and a lower price.
What is a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car?
A hydrogen fuel cell car is a type of electric car that uses hydrogen as its fuel source. Instead of storing electricity in a large and heavy battery, a hydrogen car stores hydrogen gas in high-pressure tanks. The hydrogen is then fed into a device called a fuel cell stack, where it reacts with oxygen from the air to generate electricity. The electricity is then used to power an electric motor that drives the wheels.
The main advantages of a hydrogen car over a battery car are:
- Longer range: A hydrogen car can travel farther on a single tank of fuel than a battery car can on a single charge. The Mirai has a range of 402 miles, according to the EPA, while the average battery car has a range of about 250 miles, according to the US Department of Energy.
- Faster refueling: A hydrogen car can be refueled in about five minutes at a hydrogen station, similar to a gasoline car at a gas station. A battery car, on the other hand, can take several hours to fully recharge at a public charging station or overnight at a home charger.
- Cleaner emission: A hydrogen car emits only water vapor from its tailpipe, while a battery car still relies on the electricity grid, which may use fossil fuels to generate power. According to Toyota, the Mirai can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 67% compared to a gasoline car and by up to 37% compared to a battery car, depending on the source of hydrogen and electricity.
What Makes the Mirai Special?
The 2024 Toyota Mirai is not the only hydrogen car on the market. There are also models from Hyundai, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz. But the Mirai stands out for several reasons:
- Design: The Mirai has a distinctive and elegant design that reflects its futuristic and eco-friendly nature. The front end features a large grille with air intakes that cool the fuel cell stack and the hybrid battery. The side profile has a low and aerodynamic shape that enhances efficiency and performance. The rear end has a fastback-style roofline that flows into a trunk spoiler and a diffuser that houses the dual exhaust tips. The Mirai also has LED headlights and taillights, 19-inch or 20-inch alloy wheels, and a choice of eight exterior colors, including a new Hydro Blue option.
- Performance: The Mirai has a powerful and responsive electric motor that delivers 182 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. The motor is mounted at the rear, giving the Mirai a rear-wheel-drive configuration that improves handling and stability. The Mirai also has a hybrid battery that stores excess electricity from the fuel cell stack and provides extra power when needed. The battery is located under the rear seat, lowering the center of gravity and enhancing the weight distribution. The Mirai can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 108 mph.
- Interior: The Mirai has a spacious and comfortable interior that can accommodate five passengers. The cabin is designed to create a relaxing and premium atmosphere, with soft-touch materials, ambient lighting, and noise-reducing glass. The Mirai also has heated and power-adjustable front seats, a heated steering wheel, a dual-zone automatic climate control, a wireless charging pad, and a digital key that allows the driver to unlock and start the car with a smartphone. The Mirai also has a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and SiriusXM. The system is connected to a 14-speaker JBL sound system that delivers high-quality audio. The Mirai also has a 7-inch digital instrument cluster that displays key information such as speed, range, and fuel cell status.
- Safety: The Mirai has a comprehensive suite of safety and driver assistance features that help prevent and mitigate collisions. The Mirai comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, which includes:
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Bicycle Detection, which can apply the brakes automatically if it detects a potential collision with a vehicle, a pedestrian, or a cyclist in front of the car.
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, which can warn the driver if the car drifts out of its lane and provide gentle steering correction to keep the car in its lane.
- Lane Tracing Assist, which can help the driver stay centered in the lane by following the path of the vehicle ahead or the lane markings.
- Road Sign Assist, which can recognize and display speed limit signs and other road signs on the instrument cluster.
- Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which can maintain a set speed and a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, and adjust the speed according to the traffic conditions. It can also stop and resume the car in stop-and-go traffic.
- Automatic High Beams, which can switch between high and low beams automatically depending on the surrounding light and traffic.
- Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, which can warn the driver of vehicles in the blind spots or approaching from behind when reversing.
- Parking Assist with Automatic Braking, which can help the driver park the car by providing steering guidance and applying the brakes automatically if it detects an obstacle.
The Mirai also has 10 airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, a rearview camera, and a hydrogen sensor that can detect any leaks and shut off the fuel supply.