Business | Tokyo Motor Show 2019

Toyota to unveil ultra-compact BEV and latest Mirai hydrogen model

Toyota Motor Corp. will showcase its ultra-compact battery electric vehicle (BEV) and second-generation Mirai concept fuel cell electric car powered by hydrogen, among other creations, at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, which runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4.

The two new models will be exhibited in the Future Expo area of the show. Future Expo will be held at Mega Web, a facility Toyota uses to showcase its vehicles, near Aomi Station on the Yurikamome Line or Tokyo Teleport Station on the Rinkai Line.

Toyota, which plans to begin selling its ultra-compact BEVs late next year, is also developing other compact BEVs and aims to spread the use of such vehicles, which emit zero carbon emissions.

“We will establish a system to make it easy for people to use compact battery electric vehicles and further spread their use. We will not only sell them, but also lease them, enable battery reuse and provide services such as insurance,” said Akihiro Yanaka, head of the team developing the ultra-compact BEV.

Ultra-compact battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
Ultra-compact battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

Target customers of the two-seater vehicles are those who regularly drive short distances, such as the elderly, salespeople who frequently visit the same customers and newly licensed drivers. A single charge, which takes about five hours, offers a range of as much as 100 kilometers. The vehicle’s maximum speed is 60 kph.

The vehicle’s interior changes into three different modes — “Drive,” “Office” and “Relax.” The office mode gives passengers a setting that allows them to comfortably work on a laptop.

Additionally, Toyota will allow motor show visitors to try out other types of compact BEVs, such as the three-wheeled i-Road. Additionally, the company will display a kickboard-esque standing mobility vehicle, as well as a BEV with a seat. There is also a BEV designed to assist wheelchair mobility.

Mobility assistance BEV models include seated and standing designs as well a variation that can be attached to a wheelchair.
Mobility assistance BEV models include seated and standing designs as well a variation that can be attached to a wheelchair.

The new Mirai concept vehicle, the second iteration after its debut in December 2014, will also go on sale in late 2020. Globally, Toyota has sold about 10,000 units of the original Mirai.

The redesigned Mirai will prolong driving distance by 30 percent over the previous model.

“We have worked to make a car that customers will want to drive all the time, a car that has an emotional and attractive design and the kind of dynamic and responsive performance that can bring a smile to the driver’s face,” said Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Mirai project. “We hope that with the new Mirai, we will be a leader in helping to realize a hydrogen energy society.”

The benefits of using hydrogen for fuel are that vehicles emit nothing but water and heat, and have a longer maximum range compared to electric vehicles. Hydrogen can also be produced from various primary energy sources and is storable and transportable. Its drawbacks include high production costs and a scarcity of hydrogen refueling stations. The price of the original Mirai is about ¥7.4 million.

Compared to the first version, the second features a stylish form and enhanced fuel cell system performance with more hydrogen storage capacity.

The Mirai concept features a dynamic exterior design built on a so-called Toyota New Global Architecture platform, including large 20-inch diameter wheels. The interior is equipped with a 12.3-inch wide screen on the center console and an instrument panel that helps provide drivers an optimal experience behind the wheel.

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