Surprising both critics and Toyota itself, demand for the hydrogen fuel-cell Mirai passenger car has tripled expectations, with 1,500 orders placed in just the first month of availability. Toyota originally planned on selling a mere 400 examples in 2015, but has now revised that projection to include 700 built examples for this year, 2,000 built for 2016, and 3,000 built for 2017.

According to a report from AutoExpress, 60 percent of the orders came from Japanese government/private fleet customers, while the remaining 40 percent came from private buyers.

Major automakers, including Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, have recently expressed interest in collaborating with the Japanese government to build the infrastructure needed to support these new vehicles, with 2015 set as the target date for construction.

The Mirai’s success comes amid growing competition from other hydrogen-powered vehicles rolling out from Honda and Hyundai, as well as the development of future fuel-cell cars from BMW, Mercedes, and General Motors.

Toyota plans on offering the Mirai to customers in Europe and the U.S. later this year.

This is a critical moment for hydrogen power. Many automakers are hedging their bets when it comes to that next step past petrol, and if hydrogen fuel cells are to succeed, they will require a good deal of consumer interest, not only in Japan, but throughout the world as well.

Click past the jump to read more about the Toyota Mirai.

Why it matters

In November of last year, Honda announced an investment of $13.8 million to build hydrogen-refueling stations in southern California. Toyota is also committed to beefing up the American hydrogen infrastructure, with construction extending out to include new refueling stations on the east coast.

The technical difficulties surrounding the storage and production of hydrogen fuel seem to have been met, and will continue to improve as adoption expands. As the above-mentioned automakers pour money into getting hydrogen fuel into the tanks of customers (identified as one of the biggest hurdles facing fuel-cell vehicles), it begs the question: will a car like the Mirai see major success outside its homeland? And more importantly, will the automotive world at large see a hydrogen revolution similar to the EV and hybrid revolution that came before?

Toyota Mirai

2016 Toyota Mirai High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Priced at around $60,000, the Mirai hopes to mimic the success enjoyed by the Prius, but with a radical new drivetrain. Sporting 153 horsepower and a 300-mile range, the Mirai boasts zero-emission driving without the hassle of waiting hours to top off a battery. What’s more, Toyota is throwing in an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty, plus free hydrogen fill-ups for three years.

Adoption for this four-door is limited to areas with available hydrogen refueling stations, which are currently seeing a major overhaul on both sides of the country. Despite the unique power plant, the rest of the Mirai is exactly what you’d expect from a small Japanese commuter, albeit at a significantly higher price tag. It remains to seen whether or not it becomes the world’s first mainstream fuel-cell vehicle.

Source: AutoExpress

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