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Toyota Mirai dedicated to fuel cell future (pictures)

Toyota showed off its new Mirai fuel cell vehicle at the Los Angeles auto show, betting on the hydrogen-powered technology as its zero emission vehicle of choice.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 15 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Toyota announced a fuel cell car earlier this year. At the Los Angeles auto show, the company showed off the production version, a 2016 model going on sale next year.

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The Mirai, a name that means "future" in Japanese, is built on an existing platform but uses a unique design and components.

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A little bit bigger than the Prius, the Mirai is a front-wheel-drive sedan. However, its passenger capacity is limited to four, likely to reduce strain on the drive train.

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The Mirai's trunk space is somewhat compromised, as Toyota packages two 10,000 PSI hydrogen tanks in the structure.

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The trailing edge of the Mirai shows an aerodynamic design that will lessen drag on the car.

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Toyota had designed three big air intakes in front of the development car, to cool the drive-train system. This design was retained for the Mirai, even though it does not require as much cooling.

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LED headlights use less electricity, and will come standard on the production version.

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The Mirai's front wheels are driven by a 113-kilowatt electric motor, producing 247 pound-feet of torque. That motor gets its electric from a fuel cell stack.

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Under the hood sites the fuel cell stack, which harvests electricity from the reaction of hydrogen combining with oxygen. With 5 kilograms of hydrogen stored in the Mirai, it can go 300 miles.

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With a high-pressure hydrogen fueling station, the Mirai fills  up its tanks in about 5 minutes. The hydrogen tanks use layers of reinforced carbon fiber and plastic materials, making them very durable.

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Prius drivers will recognize the Mirai's drive selector, a simple lever switching between Reverse, Neutral and Drive. A B position enacts heavy regeneration from the motor, mimicking engine braking.

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The cabin of the Mirai borrows some elements from other Toyota models.

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As in the Prius, the instrument cluster is LCD-based, and sits in a band above the dashboard.

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The navigation system will include a list of nearby hydrogen fueling stations. At present, there are only nine in California. Toyota is working with partners to expand the availability of these stations.

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An H2O button dumps excess water vapor from the car, its sole emission. The DC Out button lets owners use the Mirai as a power source for appliances.

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