It’s not the car’s fault, but increased exposure could help create more interest in it

Unlike hybrids and all-electric cars, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have struggled to gain any meaningful traction in the auto industry. Part of that may be attributed to a lack of awareness of its unique capabilities and another part of that can be pointed in the direction of not having enough of them in the market to begin with. After all, California is the only state in the U.S. where an FCV like the Toyota Mirai is currently being sold. Whatever the case may be, FCVs have yet to turn into popular alternative vehicles for a lot of people and no more is that evident than the lackluster sales of the Mirai.

That’s also a big reason why Toyota is spending big money in advertising the vehicle as it now has its own commercial spot for the Super Bowl. Titled “Daisy,” the commercial goes straight to the point in highlighting the Mirai’s ability to emit water instead of gas. The ad starts with a full-bloomed daisy sitting somewhat meekly in the middle of a concrete road. A car then stops just beside the flower before coughing out a plume of smoke out of its exhaust. Convenient, right? As the car moves along, the poor daisy (with a spotlight on it no less) keels over the same way a dehydrated person would if he’s spent days on end without water.

And just as everything appeared to go south on the flower, the Mirai heroically comes along, stops at the exact same spot as the previous vehicle, and discharges whatever water it has emitted straight into the daisy. Just like that, the daisy springs back to life and a voice-over comes in to proudly say that the hydrogen-fuelled Mirai’s only emission is water.

As far as a commercial goes, this one leaves the comedy behind and cuts straight to the point to showcase why the Mirai is such an important car in today’s world. Whether the ad succeeds in generating more interest for the car is a question that will only be answered over time. But for now, the commercial comes as a worthwhile gamble on Toyota’s part considering that it only sold 1,034 models of the car in 2016 and just 83 units in the first month of 2017.

Solid choice, but bigger issues still need to be solved

I can see why Toyota spent advertising money for the Super Bowl on the Mirai. It may not be an important car today, but it will be in the future, especially if fuel-cell vehicles gain any traction in the business. But the reality today is that the Mirai isn’t doing as well as Toyota expected and it’s clear that this commercial is an attempt to help generate more buzz for the car. It’s a good move from business and strategic points of view, but at the same time, a big reason why the Mirai isn’t selling as well as it should is a problem that this commercial does not have any power over.

The Toyota Mirai’s two biggest issues are availability and a lack of infrastructure to support it. No Super Bowl commercial, no matter how grandiose it is, can help address those issues. Right now, the Mirai is only being offered in California where there’s infrastructure (hydrogen fuelling stations) to support it. Other areas in the U.S. still don’t have that capability and without it, there’s no point to even sell the model in those places.

Sure it’s going to change over time, but it is interesting to see Toyota take this step. The fact that the commercial itself is only going to be shown in the Los Angeles and San Francisco TV markets also gives off the notion that the ad is here to help build awareness for the model.

Even the Mirai’s marketing manager, Nathan Kokes, said as much when he said that the Super Bowl “provides a great opportunity to showcase new Mirai fuel cell vehicle creative in two key markets, Los Angeles and San Francisco. With the Mirai currently only available in California, we’re excited to share the Mirai message, “Vehicle of Change,” with our current owners and potential Mirai customers in the Golden State.”

So yes, the ad is a good move on Toyota’s part. But until the Mirai becomes available in other areas, its lack of sales is a problem that’s not going to go away anytime soon.

Read our full review on the Toyota Mirai here.

Source: YouTube - Toyota

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