The Toyota Mirai is proving to be more popular than even Toyota anticipated, potentially paving the way for the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to follow in the Toyota Prius’ footsteps as a pioneer in the alternative fuel segment. While it’s still a little premature to laud the Mirai in equal terms as the Prius, demand for the former has forced Toyota to spend 20 billion yen ($165 million as of 12/12/2014) to triple the domestic production capacity for the fuel-cell sedan.

Japanese newspaper Nikkei is reporting that Toyota is also planning to increase production capacity at its factory in Aichi in order to accommodate the increased output of fuel-cell stacks and hydrogen tanks for the Mirai. The Japanese automaker also plans to add more equipment on a separate Aichi site that is heavily involved in vehicle assembly. The additional capacity should give Toyota the resources to meet the rising demand for the Mirai. The vehicle is scheduled to hit dealerships in Japan on December 15, 2014, but interest in the car likely means that Toyota will have to work long hours to meet the number of models that will likely be ordered as a result of the this spike in demand.

According to Nikkei, Toyota plans to build about 400 models for its home market by 2015. The Mirai will then follow its Japan release by arriving in Europe by September 2015 with just around 50 to 100 models sold annually. Meanwhile, the U.S. is scheduled to get its shipment, believed to be around 200 to 300 models, by the end of 2015. Due to the availability of hydrogen and other variables, California will be the only state to get the Mirai for the time being.

All these allocations and the possibility of a sales expansion in the U.S. means that production of the Mirai could be increased as Toyota gears up to produce more models in the coming years.

Click past the jump to read more about Toyota Mirai.

Why it matters

The Toyota Mirai is the latest proof that Toyota doesn’t mind pushing the envelope in the name of advancements in fuel technology. It did the same with the hybrid Prius in 1997 and we all know how that thing turned out.

Hearing that there’s high demand for the Mirai didn’t come as a surprise to any of us. It’s not the nicest car to look at, but people aren’t interested in it because of its looks. People want the Mirai because of its hydrogen fuel-cell powerplant and the enormous benefits it provides in delivering zero emissions driving. It’s capacity to act as a home generator doesn’t hurt its appeal either.

Having said that, it wouldn’t surprise us if the Toyota goes through a feeling-out process with the Mirai. The Prius went through the same thing. But once people are more aware of the the car’s capabilities and have adjusted their expectations on what it can and can’t do, we expect the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to take off and potentially reach the status achieved by the Prius.

Toyota Mirai

2016 Toyota Mirai High Resolution Exterior
- image 578100

The Toyota Mirai was unveiled in November 2014, a full year after its concept counterpart, the FCV Concept, broke cover at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. The Mirai looks remarkably similar to the FCV Concept in both appearance and technology. You don’t have to look too closely to see that both the concept and the production model carry the same pair of massive air intakes that permits cool air to flow behind the front fascia. Meanwhile, the spectacular interior is as dramatically styled as the body of the car, highlighted by gauge clusters on the upper section of the dash, a center screen that carries Toyota’s new Entune system, and a console with its own digital display.

While there’s plenty to love about the interior and, to a lesser extent, the exterior, the Mirai’s real calling card is its hydrogen fuel-cell powerplant. The system is comprised of Toyota’s very own fuel-cell stack and an electric motor that produces 153 horsepower.

Instead of being powered by battery packs as is the case with hybrid models, the Mirai uses Toyota’s own fuel-cell stack technology that produces 3.1 kW per liter of hydrogen at its disposal. The stack creates a reaction between stored hydrogen and outside oxygen, generating both electricity to power the electric motor, which of course makes the car move and spring from 0 to 60 mph in nine seconds. All that’s emitted during this reaction is water vapor.

Source: Nikkei

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: