Business / Tech

Toyota unveils next-generation Mirai fuel cell sedan for Tokyo Motor Show

by Osamu Tsukimori

Staff Writer

Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled on Thursday the second generation of its hydrogen fuel-cell Mirai sedan, ready for the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show that is set to kick off from Oct. 24.

Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer for the Mirai, said the concept model is in the final stage of development prior to its global launch at the end of 2020.

The new, sporty five-passenger vehicle will seat one more than the current model, and will feature updated fuel cell technology and increased hydrogen storage capacity that offers up to 30 percent greater range, Japan’s biggest automaker said in a statement. The current Mirai model can be recharged in three minutes at a hydrogen station and can travel about 650 kilometers on one charge, according to Toyota.

“All parts of the fuel cell unit were redesigned, and we realized a new sensation of driving that keeps up with the styling,” Tanaka told reporters.

Since the world’s first commercial launch of fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in December 2014, Toyota has sold about 10,000 of the Mirai worldwide. Only a select group of automakers currently manufacture FCVs, including Toyota, Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co.

Toyota believes the new Mirai model marks a big step forward for the vehicles, and the potential of a hydrogen society. The cars carry fuel-cell stacks that use hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity that in turn powers the motor. Often dubbed the “ultimate environmentally friendly vehicles,” FCVs only emit water vapor while running.

Toyota plans to launch the next generation model in late 2020, initially in Japan, North America and Europe. It also plans to raise annual production capacity tenfold to 30,000 units, Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told the Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo last month.

There is global momentum for building a hydrogen society. The ministerial meeting on the technology, attended by ministers and delegates from more than 30 nations, regions and organizations, pledged to introduce 10 million FCVs, trucks, buses and other hydrogen-powered systems globally, as well as 10,000 hydrogen refueling stations, over the next 10 years.

Japan has a domestic goal of introducing 800,000 FCVs and 900 hydrogen refueling stations by 2030, under a strategic road map revised in March. Under that plan, it will also seek to reduce the price difference between FCVs and hybrid vehicles to ¥700,000 from the current ¥3 million.

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