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Month: November 2014

The things I learned while not test driving the hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai

Having been in far too many nearly finished cars in a former life, I don’t get excited by test drives. Nevertheless, I always go when invited. While other journalists drive the car, I shoot the breeze with the engineers who make the car. It is amazing what you can absorb while not driving at these test drives. Today for instance, I learn that the new fuel cell Toyota Mirai looks the way it looks, because the man in charge was sick of the Prius.

I am in the basement garage of Toyota’s Megaweb in Tokyo, and while the A-list of Tokyo’s automotive press corps takes a very blue, and a senior-silver Mirai through a very closed course outside, I chew, a paper cup with hotto kohee in my hands, the fat with the gentlemen who made the Mirai happen.

“I was responsible for the third generation Prius, and I was getting tired of it,” the Mirai’s project manager Toshihiro Kasai quips after he is asked why the hydrogen power-train was not simply another bullet on the option list of Toyota’s best-selling hybrid. After quickly adding that he was joking, Kasai says that the Mirai slots above the Prius, that a “higher class car must be a sedan, not a hatchback,” and that the car isn’t so expensive, because it is a premium car. It is sold as a premium car, because it still is very expensive.

Toyota unleashes fuel cell vehicle named “Mirai”

Many decades after starting work on fuel cell technologies, Toyota launched the world’s first commercially available fuel cell vehicle today at an event in Tokyo. The car is called “Mirai,” which is Japanese for “future.” Fittingly, the event was held at Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, known to natives as the “Miraikan” (= Hall of the Future”). Japanese car launches usually are a low key affair. This time, Toyota laid on a flashy show with huge holographic imagery. Officially on sale from December 15, 2014, the Mirai will retail in Japan for JPY 7,236,000 (USD 62,000) including consumption tax. Government subsidies can bring down the price to JPY 4,236,000 (USD 36,000) in some areas of Japan.