Have you heard of the newest invention from Toyota, called the Mirai? Meaning “future” in Japanese, it is the world’s first hydrogen-cell fueled vehicle available for public purchase.
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According to chief engineer Yoshikazu Tanaka, the Mirai is an innovation “even greater than that of the first-generation Prius.” What exactly is he talking about? Let’s find out.
A new 4-door sedan is available on the market, and it is powered by electricity- but that’s not all. An elemental reaction between hydrogen and oxygen takes place within a fuel stack, thus generating the electricity. That’s not the only eco-friendly feature though. Condensed water is the only exhaust this vehicle leaves behind, and guess what? Toyota says that this residual water is perfectly safe to drink! They’ve been working on this technology since 1992, and after investing 5680 patents into the design, Toyota has finally found a way to bring it into use on a mass scale.
By the end of this year, 200 Mirais will be delivered to proud new owners in California, which is currently the only state to have them available. Maybe this is due to the expensive infrastructure required to refuel this revolutionary vehicle. Instead of the 10,000+ easily found gas stations in California, there are less than 30 refueling stations available for Mirai owners to top off.
Refueling the tank is a bit different than filling up a typical vehicle. First, hydrogen gets delivered to the tank at 10,000psi through a rather intricate filling system. After about 5 minutes, the tank will be completely full. Once full, which will run you close to $10, you can expect to get around 300 miles before your next refueling.
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Speed-enthusiasts might not consider the Mirai to be their first choice, considering it does 0-60 in 9.4 seconds. However, what it lacks in racing capabilities, it makes up for in comfort and design. Even the roughly surfaced streets of L.A. do not pose a problem to this vehicle; the 17″ tires along with a nicely-tuned suspension allow for a very smooth ride.
Comfortable seating is standard in every Mirai, thanks to Toyota’s “form in place” innovation. Basically, urethane foam is injected into the seat mold, and offers ergonomic comfort and lumbar support.
Finally, there is a 4.2″ touch-screen LCD display for all of the necessary controls, which also shows warning messages should there be any faults.
Currently, the Toyota Mirai is going for around $57,500, which is a little steeper than most people are willing to pay for an eco-friendly car. Perhaps this car is ahead of it’s time, but it is called “the future.”
More information, including the science behind the fuel cell technology, can be found on Toyota’s website.