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.