You may have noticed an unusual number of “Back to the Future” references in your social media; that’s because 10/21/2015 is the date shown on Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine in “Back to the Future 2.” In the plot of the movie, this is the day that Marty McFly arrives in the future to try and fix the things that have gone wrong in the timeline.
Though the DeLorean is the automotive star of the franchise, there’s a Toyota connection as well. Marty’s dream car is a black 1985 Toyota Xtracab 4x4 pickup, and Toyota’s taken the opportunity to play it up a little bit. (DeLorean probably would too, if it was still in business.) In addition to creating a “Back to the Future” edition of the all-new 2016 Tacoma, complete with 1980s-style KC light bar and nerf bumpers, the brand has brought its Mirai fuel-cell vehicle into the loop with a short video called “Fueled by the Future.” The video features the aforementioned Tacoma concept along with Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox and other familiar faces.
I have a friend who several years ago left the his job as a very successful automotive journalist for a public relations position with one of the world’s largest car manufacturers. When I asked him why he did it, he explained that once he had driven every low-volume supercar under the sun, the job actually started to get boring, and the logistics and scale of high-volume car manufacturing started to look more interesting. At the time I thought his brain had fallen out through his ear, but after some reflection, I think I new what he meant.
These five videos from Toyota showing the build process of the new Mirai fuel-cell sedan reinforce his sentiment. There’s no music, no voiceovers and no obnoxious edits, just cars getting screwed together by people who know what they’re doing. It might sound weird, but watching it all come together honestly gave me a sense of Zen and completeness.
The packaging requirements of a hydrogen fuel-cell car make the assembly particularly interesting to watch. The third video shows the fuel being assembled separately. By the time the battery pack, electric motor and absolutely massive fuel cells are all bolted together, you might begin to wonder if the engineers actually bothered to figure out how to fit it all in the compact chassis. Obviously it all comes together, but actually watching it is truly fascinating.
Though the Mirai uses many components common throughout the rest of the Toyota lineup, its low-volume, experimental status means it’s assembled at the Motomachi Plant, which started out as Toyota’s first assembly facility 56 years ago. Now nicknamed “LFA Works, “ it’s where Toyota’s most special cars are assembled, including the LFA, Soarer, Corona and Supra.
Continue reading to learn how the Toyota Mirai is made.
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.
Remember Toyota’s hydrogen-powered FCV concept from the 2013 Tokyo Motor show? It took a couple of years, but for the 2015 model year, Toyota released the production version of the FCV Concept called the Toyota Mirai. In short, the Mirai is a sporty looking car that has an electric drivetrain and is powered completely by hydrogen. Currently only available in certain locals that have hydrogen fueling stations, the Mirai can achieve up to 310 miles per tank of hydrogen and emits nothing but a little H20 from its “exhaust” pipe. For being the best of its kind at this time, the Mirai has a respectable amount of cargo room in the rear boot and features an upscale interior with a digital, center-mounted instrument cluster and a large touchscreen infotainment system. Priced at more than $50,000 here in the U.S. the materials and their fit and finish inside are comparable to that of a Lexus or BMW.
When the Mirai made its official debut, Toyota also announced that it was unleashing a large campaign to start making hydrogen readily available for the masses. The brand has teamed up with hydrogen supplier Air Liquide to bring hydrogen to New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, to name a few. These add to the 19 refueling stations Toyota has helped bring to Southern California in the past.
Toyota believes that hydrogen will eventually be a fuel of choice, so it has been pushing the implementation of it pretty hard. So hard, in fact, that the Mirai is actually part of Toyota’s core lineup. Of course, it isn’t available in places where hydrogen isn’t available, but something tells us that Toyota will continue to push for new hydrogen stations in the future and will bring the Mirai and even more hydrogen vehicles to new areas as quickly as it can. Until then, take a look at our full review below.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Toyota Mirai.