Switching to alternative drives is not cheap, despite government subsidies. But we have good news: Something is happening in the used car market! Slowly, models suitable for everyday use are becoming affordable. And by that, we don’t just mean small electric cars, but full-fledged models like the noble exotic Toyota Mirai of the first generation (until 2020).
The Toyota Mirai is a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that has been available in the market since 2015. Initially, it was an expensive option for those looking for a sustainable alternative to gasoline or diesel vehicles. However, with the rise of the second-hand market, the Mirai is becoming more affordable, and its technology is proving to be a mature and reliable option for those who want to make the switch to hydrogen fuel.
The Mirai is a full-size sedan, with a length of 4.90 meters, which provides ample space for both the driver and passengers. Its design is similar to the Toyota Prius, but its power source is completely different. The Mirai runs on hydrogen, which is stored in tanks on board the vehicle. The fuel cell combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air, producing electricity to power the car’s electric motor. The only byproduct of this process is water vapour, making the Mirai a zero-emissions vehicle.
While the Mirai may not have the same level of acceleration as other modern electric sedans, its 155 horsepower is still enough to provide a smooth driving experience. Its quiet and effortless ride, coupled with the high-quality interior, makes the Mirai a mobile wellness oasis. The Mirai is equipped with a Toyota Touch2 infotainment system with Toyota Touch2 & Go Plus navigation, a WiFi hotspot and camera system, and a JBL sound system.
One of the drawbacks of the Mirai, and other hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, is the lack of hydrogen fueling stations. In Germany, there are currently only around 90 hydrogen filling stations with a 400-bar column. This means that drivers of the Mirai need to have a good understanding of where these stations are located and plan their trips accordingly.
However, with a consumption of just over one kilogram of hydrogen per 100 kilometres, the Mirai’s operating costs are competitive with gasoline or diesel vehicles. The price of hydrogen fuel varies, but it typically costs around 13 to 15 euros per 100 kilometres if driven briskly. In comparison, a diesel car with a consumption of 7 litres per 100 kilometres would currently cost around 11.50 euros, while a gasoline car with a thirst of 9 litres per 100 kilometres would cost around 16.50 euros.
In terms of maintenance, the Mirai is covered by a three-year factory warranty from Toyota, which can be extended up to 10 years through inspections. Toyota also provides a 12-year warranty on rust protection. Inspections are required annually to check the tanks and safety sensors, and every four years or 60,000 kilometres, a major service is required, including renewal of the ion filter of the fuel cell cooling system. The tanks are designed for 20 years of use.
The second-hand market for the Toyota Mirai is growing, making this exotic vehicle a more affordable option for those looking to switch to hydrogen fuel. While the lack of hydrogen fueling stations may be a concern, Mirai’s operating costs are competitive, and its maintenance is well-supported by Toyota. The Mirai is a mature and reliable technology that may become more popular as the infrastructure for hydrogen fueling stations expands.