Mirai redesign underscores Toyota’s commitment to hydrogen fuelSeptember 29, 2020
The 2021 model has a sleek and striking appearance, but the lack of fuelling stations is still a barrier.
The new Toyota Mirai redesign has definitely broken the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle out of its clunky, awkwardly shaped past. However, many wonder if its new elegance – inside and out – is enough to overcome the substantial challenges to adoption that stand in its way.
Without a solid network of refuelling stations in place, drivers will hesitate to buy this car.
The complete Mirai redesign for the 2021includes a number of premium upgrades, particularly when compared to the first model from 2016. This most recent model has an upscale appearance, with a premium interior featuring touchscreen panels. Drivers of this newest model are also expected to enjoy an additional 30 percent over the range of the previous model. This is important if only because the refuelling station network is essentially non-existent in most areas.
Still, this newly designed vehicle underscores Toyota’s commitment to hydrogen fuel cell technology, including in passenger vehicles. Most of the large automakers that had been pursuing this tech have since withdrawn in the passenger car category. They primarily have turned their attention toward heavy commercial vehicles – or electric vehicles – instead.
As more EV recharging stations pop up around the world, many ask if the Mirai redesign is enough.
For Toyota, it appears that just because battery electric vehicles are growing in popularity, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t an opportunity for a second type of zero emission car. It has dropped the quirky appearance and has aimed for elegance, to appeal to a wider market. Still, despite the fact that the car no longer contains strange angles and oversized grilles, it still stands out.
The challenge to this vehicle may no longer be in its appearance, the luxury of its interior or the number of bells and whistles it contains by way of its touch screen panels. At about $58,000, even with a considerable range – almost a third bigger than the last model – without a refuelling station network in place, most people in the world won’t realistically be able to use it.
Still, the 2021 Mirai redesign upgrade does draw attention to the vehicle, which is a definite first step to reaching drivers. Only time will tell if it will be enough to encourage enough people to buy this car from which the only emission is water.
The spread of hydrogen (H2) filling stations is likely to be lead by the greater need for H2 for HGVs and busses which have a much clearer need for H2 than cars. Ryse Hydrogen (ryse.team/) which bought Wright Bus, is part of JCB, and plan to build 3,000 H2 powered busses by 2024 and to install an infrastructure of H2 filling stations, so hopefully many of these will be accessible to the general public to fill H2 powered cars like the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai NEXO, although they will need separate dispensers as the cars fill at 700 bar while the trucks and busses fill at 350 bar. Its time the UK started to catch up with the rest of the developed world in the roll out of H2 powered vehicles.
Shame that the only picture featured is of a fuel cell and not of the “elegant” car…
With batteries we may get stuck like we were with fossil fuels 100 years ago: dependence on a power source that may well be increasingly hard to ‘harvest’ (rare metals etc.) and polluting. The H2 community needs to up the ante to ensure economy of scale. Hydrogen trucks and buses are a natural, but the bulk in transportation is still passenger vehicles.
Battery makers are standardising battery recycling for each major Li battery type. All the Lithium, Cobalt, nickel, aluminium and other materials are still in the batteries, and in much better form and concentration that raw ore mined from the earth. So, is also likely to cost much less. Every major battery maker is investing in recycling old batteries, either themselves or in collaboration with chemicals and mineral processing firms. Companies will likely reuse good cells from battery packs first in home/grid battery applications and then recycle them.