December 24, 2014
Toyota Makes a Big Promise
They are the biggest car manufacturer in the world, and the company that crossed an ocean to bring America its most popular family car is now leading the way on an innovation that is not quite so pedestrian. Ronn Torossian explains.
Toyota recently unleashed its latest “family sedan,” the four-door Mirai, which could easily fill the role of the “anti-Camry.” While the Camry is built to appeal to a large market segment – read: pretty ordinary – the Mirai is anything but. Hot grills and angular curves, the Mirai is the next evolution of every day.
And what’s up with that signature grill anyway? Well, the setup delivers cool air to the polymer fuel-cell that powers the car. Yep, Mirai is hydrogen-powered. And it’s awesome.
Toyota already established itself as the maker of the eponymous hybrid car. When someone mentions a Prius, you don’t picture a car, you think about a way of life. But when the Prius was initially introduced, the naysayers jumped on it like vultures on roadkill. It’s too expensive, too cute, too “new.” Of course, those critics were all wrong, and the Prius became the epitome of the hybrid car. Torossian said Toyota is hoping to strike gold twice, introducing the world to the first mass market hydrogen-powered automobile.
They’re off to a good start. First, the Mirai has a 300-mile driving range, much further than the average plug-in electric can go. Second, it runs on hydrogen, which just happens to be the most abundant element in the universe. Third, it only emits heat and water. No smog. No greenhouse gasses. No pollution.
People are already calling the Mirai more than an “alternative fuel vehicle.” They are calling it a replacement for the combustion engine. The next evolution in personal transportation. Toyota has yet to embrace that particular position, but they have not been shy about touting the potential of their newest engineering feat. But they understand the risk. You know those gas stations on every corner? Well, when it comes to hydrogen refueling stations … those don’t exist. And neither does the demand for them.
Someone will have to cough up the cash and take the risk to add those stations in order to even make these vehicles viable for anyone to own, much less for mass marketing and widespread distribution.