The Toyota Mirai and the Hydrogen Fuelled Future

November 24th, 2021 by

 

Toyota has always been an innovator in the auto industry. The first foray into hybrid vehicles came in 1997 with the first Prius models in 1997. Since then, the Prius has continued to garner support and press over the years, being a pioneer in the industry. In 2015, Toyota debuted the first generation of the Mirai, the first production hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) offered for sale to retail customers in North America. Meaning “future” in Japanese, the Mirai gave us a look at what the future of motor vehicles could look like in North America and the rest of the world as a whole.

 

Toyota has now revealed the second-generation Mirai. Every detail has been painstakingly reviewed and improved to provide consumer with a premium sedan that features a cutting-edge design, impeccable driving performance, and the latest technology inside and out. The cutting edge design of the Mirai is the latest in a number of design upgrades in the latest Toyota models, and for driving performance,  Toyota’s hydrogen FCEV powertrain technology has evolved far beyond what the first generation of the Mirai was able to deliver.

 

These changes all contribute to an improved driving experience in every aspect when driving the new Mirai. An estimated 30-percent increase in overall range is expected to be achieved by a dramatic improvement in fuel cell system performance. This coupled with an increased hydrogen storage capacity signal the emergence a more powerful, and engaging driving experience than the first generation of the Mirai.

 

Put simply, the Mirai is an electric vehicle, however, where it differs from typical EV’s is that it never needs to be plugged in to recharge. A Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) generates and stores electricity from onboard hydrogen & oxygen. Even better, the only tailpipe emission is water.

Yoshikazu Tanaka, Chief Engineer of the Mirai recently stated: “We have pursued making a car that customers feel like driving all the time, a car that has emotional and attractive design appeal, as well as dynamic and responsive driving performance that can bring a smile to the faces of drivers… I want customers to say, ‘I chose the Mirai not because it’s an FCEV, but because I really wanted this car, and it just happened to be an FCEV.’”

 

What exactly is an FCEV?

Even those who are familiar with EVs, FCEVs still may be a relative unknown. The easiest explanation is that an FCEV is that it is a “plug-less” electric vehicle. While most EVs require frequent charging, FCEV’s only need to refill their tank at a hydrogen fueling station.

 

The fuel cell itself is composed of an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte membrane. Hydrogen gets passed through the anode, and oxygen through the cathode. The hydrogen molecules are split into electrons and protons. As protons pass through the electrolyte membrane, electrons travel along a circuit, generating an electric current and heat. At the cathode, the protons, electrons, and oxygen combine to produce water molecules. There are no other byproducts, H2O.

 

It only takes about five minutes to refill at one of the hydrogen fueling stations. Currently, there are already fueling stations in Quebec City, Vancouver, and Victoria. However, there will be more stations coming very soon to Burnaby, the UBC campus, and we’re very happy that we will be receiving a hydrogen fueling station right here in Kelowna very soon!
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