Toyota is gearing up for a historic occasion with launch of its Mirai fuel cell car in eight California dealerships this October.
Order taking is to begin this summer along with test drives for preferred customers.
As expected, the dealers are chosen based on experience with advanced technology vehicle sales and because they are proximal to hydrogen infrastructure.
The Japanese automaker projects 3,000 unit sales through 2017 which works out to approximately 115 per month. Assuming this goes to plan, it would outsell more than 20 hybrids now marketed in the U.S., and numerous plug-in hybrids including the Cadillac ELR, Honda Accord PHEV, Porsche plug-ins and more.
More often the angle taken is 3,000 units is a glacial roll-out, and comparatively, it is, but the alternative energy market is chock full of slow movers with less intense spotlights focused on them, and the Mirai differs in that Toyota is not projecting things will stay this way.
No, unlike the 2-mpg better Lexus LS 600h L hybrid which commands $38,135 MSRP more than the LS 460L AWD and sold 65 copies last year, Mirai is hoped to be a relatively brisk seller at 1,380 per year and to take off from there.
Expected price is all-things considered a relatively paltry – and likely manufacturer underwritten – $57,500 and Toyota has said it will offer a 36-month lease for $499/month with $3,649 due.
Undoubtedly also this uniquely styled Lexus-in-disguise will be backed by customer care treatment suitable for the flagship Lexus LS hybrid that’s limping along sales-wise as Toyota wants this hydrogen FCV project to succeed.
The company has gone out on a limb saying FCVs are paving the way for “the next 100 years” of a “Hydrogen Society” while adding plug-in cars are not as excellent a choice for long-term sustainable and viable growth.
To date allegations by certain unhappy plug-in advocates that a massive coverup between government, industry and Big Oil at the highest levels is taking place under our very noses has not been proven.
If we learn more on that, we will report it, but meanwhile Toyota is being chipper in a firm-handed sort of way about the whole affair and its dedicated Mirai website promises preferred California customers can test drive one this summer.
“Want a Mirai? All those in favor, say aye! California trailblazers waiting to get behind the wheel of Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, the Mirai, now have a destination for pick up and pre-order,” says a press release.
These customers are “select” and “eligible” prospects Toyota wants to be driving its first FCVs.
“Production of the Mirai is limited and vehicles will be placed with select, eligible customers,” says the automaker. “Therefore, drivers are encouraged to make their requests early to save a potential parking spot in transportation history.”
Any bets whether or not videos of drag races between the Mirai and a Volt will show up on YouTube this fall?
Toyota does not say, but prospects can access the Mirai consumer website, sign up, and will be kept in the loop as the delivery date arrives at a select dealer of the select customer’s choice.
These specifically are: San Francisco Toyota, Roseville Toyota, Stevens Creek Toyota or Toyota of Sunnyvale. Farther south, Longo Toyota, Toyota Santa Monica, Toyota of Orange and Tustin Toyota.
Toyota’s gambit on this technology, while conspicuous from the company that holds 70 percent of the hybrid market, is not happening in a vacuum.
News of FCV development around the globe by other automakers is continually, if slowly also, being announced.
Fuel cell cars are an alternative all-electric vehicle running on compressed hydrogen gas. The gas for the U.S. Mirai is 33-percent renewably sourced by California law, and the automaker projects sustainability to increase as economies of scale and infrastructure move in place.
Meanwhile plug-in cars are also off to the races in the marketplace, and by this year will have a 1-million unit head start globally. In the next 18 months the first 200-mile, $30,000 battery electric car from Chevrolet is expected, to be followed by a similarly capable Tesla and Nissan.
Federal agencies today describe an “all-of-the-above” approach meaning there is no one-size-fits-all technology ready to leave petroleum in the dustbin of history.
In fact, we’ve not seen the end of petroleum yet by a long shot either, but people are working on it, including Toyota, which has embraced hydrogen as the linchpin for its future success.