Toyota has said from the beginning its launch of a new kind of vehicle – the hydrogen fuel cell variety – would be slow and true to its word, it has temporarily brought sales at certain dealers to a grinding halt.
According to Wards Auto, the automaker has told some of its few California dealers offering the Mirai FCV to stop selling it while being a bit circuitous in explaining the semantic distinctions that could call criticism on the new technology.
“It is not a stop-sale, we have just asked [the dealers] not to make deliveries until we have a station open,” said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America from the sidelines of the 2016 Automotive News World Congress.
That could be interpreted as a working definition of “stop-sale,” but be it as it may, the temporary move followed other snags to the rollout including that the California Energy Commission had said there would be 53 H2 stations by end of 2015 and that has not happened.
As observed also by InsideEVs, only 3-5 public stations were available initially to Toyota as it sought to release the Mirai last year.
In September it opened sales in just eight dealers for the vehicles and not long after Toyota put in temporary fueling lower-than-normal 5,000 psi pressure stations at half of its locations to help with the shortage.
The Mirai is advertised with 312 miles range, but with half fills necessitated by pre-booked fill ups for early adopters, their Mirais had just 150 miles range.
Lentz said the picture will however improve.
“I’m pretty confident by the end of the year we’re going to get to 48,” said Lentz. “It’s just growing pains.”
Toyota has said otherwise this is a “long term play.”
The court of public opinion presided over by plug-in advocates judging hydrogen as a flawed strategy for numerous reasons has meanwhile declared FCVs as nearly dead on arrival.
That said, Toyota – as well as numerous other automakers developing or proffering H2 cars – have continued to work plans stretching into the next decade and beyond.
While halting steps today are fodder for critics, news of investments in fuel cell technology globally continues to come forth.
With battery electric and plug-in hybrids also being developed it surely is a shake-out, and these vehicles do enjoy a considerable head start.
What the ultimate future holds however, despite predictions and pronouncements, has yet to be determined.