Toyota's got a problem, its called Prius, you see after you broke the industry wide open and established the first and really well selling hybrid car, what do you do for an encore?
And you do need an encore because if you don't You leave the table to Chevy bolt or Tesla model 3 or in their mind, God forbid Honda Clarity
And there is really only one direct competitor to this car, that would be Honda's clarity.
That's their fuel cell vehicle coming late 2016.
By the time you see this it may already be on the market.
Now, automakers know that if you make a really different car, and it doesn't look different, you kind of tripped yourself up.
So this looks different.
And to the un-initiated eye, both this- And the clarity.
And many would say the Prius and the Honda Insight back in the day all asked quite a bit of the uninitiated eye.
But made an impression, and said, I'm different.
To me, this looks like kinda like a bigger Camry, cross bred with a wolverine, giving it that angrier face and meatier haunches.
Now I'm not going to spend to much time on the cabin of this car its basicly a stock Toyota stuff even though it doesn't look quite that way.
I mean theres a whole lot of gloss piano black Flat touch surfaces in this vehicle, an eyebrow display a la Prius.
A lot of it falls nicely to the hand.
It's got a beautifully angled thing that a lot of Lexus cars do lately.
The eyebrow display, of course, easily suffers from the possibility of TMI on the green front.
Giving you one of these screens that shows you all about your green driving habits, which most drivers I would posit Don't care about.
Drive controls are pretty simple and pretty dainty.
This little Prius-like shift controller, I wouldn't even call it a shifter or shift knob.
Press for park.
No paddles, or any nonsense like that.
Bunch of drive modes, though.
If I want to go a lot faster, I'll step harder on the pedal.
That's all I need for power mode.
Under the arm rest here, we've got a standard Qi technology, wireless charging cradle.
There are two major technologies out there, Powermat and Qi.
This is the one we've got in this car.
And again, all Mirai are the same trim so everything I'm showing you is.
And over there's an interesting button that says H2O.
That's the bladder button, to be honest.
I mean, since hydrogen fuel cell cars' only exhaust is water, it does pool up here and there.
And if you hit that button, you can empty the container before you pull into your pristine garage.
If you have one of those.
Now under here is the world like non-other I've ever shown you in any of our videos.
You expect to find an engine and there isn't one at all.
There is this electric motor and a fuel cell stack.
Air comes in the face of th car through these many grills.
That oxygen is combined with the hydrogen coming out of the tank and they meet In the fuel cell with a fuel cell stack.
In those plates they have a reaction that sends off the electrons, and those electrons, some of which go directly to the front drive motor with the front wheels only Some of them though go off to the battery in the back of the car.
So in a sense, this is an electric, electric hybrid.
It's got two sources of electric power at any given moment that are coming into the wheels but it all starts with the chemical reaction that takes place in the fuel cell.
This gives you about 312 miles of range on a five kilogram weight based Fill up of hydrogen.
Okay, fuelling one of these guys looks and feels a lot like doing a regular gas car.
You pop open the door, there's a little nozzle in there, that's your high pressure hydrogen transfer nozzle.
Now you go to the pump with.
Which also looks kind of familiar.
But notice it dispenses in kilograms of hydrogen, not the gallons we're used to.
Okay, which pump do I use?
This isn't regular and high-test.
These are pressures.
H35 is for older hydrogen cars.
At around 5000 psi or 35 megapascals.
This is 70 megapascals.
That's about 10,000 psi.
Now, the nozzle of course looks a little different.
This isn't your typical fueling nozzle.
It's an interlocking high pressure connection that also does infrared communication with the car, with collar on the filler right there.
Now lemme get this guy here and I just have to sort of clip it on.
I think we're good to go.
So we're seeing our sale on top and the amount of fuel we're getting on the bottom and that's measured on weights.
Note that here in California, a 5 five kilogram fill up of hydrogen cost around $75 for the Mirai.
That's pricy compared to a $45 fill up for a V6 Camry that goes farther.
That's part of the reason Toyota pays for your first three years or $15,000 worth of hydrogen when you buy a new Mirai.
It's just the beginning, right?
Shane Stevens company, True Zero, operates the pump where we [UNKNOWN] up.
The biggest factor is actually scale.
So today is the produced raw hydrogen They're actually very inexpensive, it's probably half of less than half the cost of gasoline.
Really, where the cost is, is in the new methods of transporting it, the stations themselves.
We're investing a lot of new equipment and we are not at the volumes or at the technology maturity where it can get cheap.
But we're actually expecting to see Hydrogen competitive with gasoline within the next Two or three years, within five or ten years, it'll probably get lower if not half the price of gasoline.
And while there are a slew of gas stations on virtually every corner in suburban, America.
There are very few hydrogen stations right now.
We think actually by being strategic, even to serve the entire California population, you probably only need 12 or 15% of the number of fueling locations compared to gasoline
The City of California targets 50 hydrogen stations by 2017, 100 around the state by 2020.
And the perception of that being enough will be helped by the coincidence that, at least in urban areas, we're getting used to living with a lot fewer gas stations anyway.
But Tesla's Elon Musk is among those who think hydrogen will never make any sense, no matter how many stations you build.
Two set hook up, a solar panel and use that energy from the solar panel to just charge a battery pack directly.
Compared to try to split water, take the hydrogen, dump the oxygen, compress the hydrogen to an extremely high pressure or liquefy it, and then put it in your car and Run a fuel cell.
It is about half the efficiency, it's terrible.
So, why would you do that?
It makes no sense.
Toyota Senior Executive Bob Carter sais, that's what they said about hybrid.
For years the use of hydrogen gas to power automobiles has been seen by many smart people.
As a foolish quest.
Hydrogen is plentiful and there are many ways to produce it.
And many of those are sustainable.
A recent paper by the respected team of Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, a search it is possible for Fuel Cell cars to involve the least amount of petroleum used per mile measured from the well to the wheel,
Depending on the source of hydrogen used.
Okay now on the road, I really like [UNKNOWN] in an everyday sense.
One of the first things you notice is how conventional it is.
It doesn't feel like you're driving anything weird in any sense.
It's sprightly though not punishingly fast.
It doesn't have the kind of throw you back The seat performance of a Tesla.
The ride quality is not sloppy, but it's very comfortable.
And when you lean on it, like I'm doing now, going up a hill, accelerating pretty full tilt, you get a lot of electric noises out the ride, more than I think fit with its very refined ride quality.
You do have a slightly occluded trunk, not bad, but it's not a cavernous thing.
It's got a little bit of
Tightness toward the back there.
And it's only a four seat car.
You have a fixed non seatable center rear console.
Now this was a bugaboo for the Chevy Volt in it's first generation.
Only would hold four in a very similar config.
They addressed that in In gen two, Marai still back on a four seat config.
As every day cars go, I like this one.
Now, as you can imagine with any moon shot product like this the entry price is high, but so are the incentives.
You start off at 583 delivered for Marai and there's only one kind you can get, loaded.
After that come the incentives.
First, the IRS is gonna give you and $8,000 tax credit.
California's credit is currently $5,000.
And Toyota is putting what they call a trailblazer incentive on the hood, another $7,500 off.
And then I'm gonna ballpark a $7,300 fuel savings over three years.
Compared to if you had a V6 Camry in California, driving the same miles as you would this car.
That's about $30,535 now after all the math's done, and that's a much more realistic number for a lot of people.
Now you gotta buy into all the math and you've gotta have all those incentives be applicable to you.
But there's another calculus that you've also gotta work on and that's a raging, and ongoing argument.
About what makes more sense in terms of real green policy.
To generate voltage that comes down a line network to charge an electric battery car or to create and transport hydrogen to fuel one of these.
Sounds like a car tech 101.
More cars driven CNET style, standing by now at CNETOnCars.com.
Click On The Road.
Vegan interiors move to the automotive mainstream
How to buy the best year of a car
Pick the right car for driving rideshare
Fuel cell cars are still the next big thing
Is Meguiar's tire dressing better than Armor All?
The best products to protect your car from the sun
The best place to get your car repaired is at home