Fuel Cell Vehicles May Be Slow Sellers, But They’re Trending Up
Toyota began selling the four-door sedan Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in California in October 2015, and last week passed the 3,000 sales mark, making the Toyota Mirai the best-selling fuel car car. While not a particularly impressive number, say compared to the 43,000 Toyota Camrys sold last month nationwide, consider that there are only 31 hydrogen fueling stations in the state, mostly concentrated in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay areas. That helps put the sales into perspective.
The Mirai wasn’t the first fuel-cell car offered for sale to the general public in the U.S. That distinction goes to the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell sport utility, which went on sale in the Golden State in late 2014. But the Mirai was the first to be a distinct model, rather than a fuel-cell version of an existing model–and the first with a marketing push. The Mirai also competes against the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan. Hyundai will soon replace the Tucson Fuel Cell with a new model called the Nexo. Other automakers may throw in with models as well.
Of the three fuel cell models currently offered, Toyota is responsible for 80 percent of all hydrogen cars sold in California.
“Toyota remains at the forefront of developing and deploying hydrogen fuel cell technology, and we believe strongly in its potential to help realize a more sustainable and zero-emissions society,” said Bob Carter, Executive Vice President, Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
The Toyota Mirai, a four-door, midsize sedan, is a zero-emission hydrogen vehicle. It creates electricity using hydrogen, oxygen and a fuel cell, and emits nothing but water vapor in the process. The EPA estimates a driving range rating of 312 miles and 67 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent) city/highway/combined. The car can be refueled in approximately five minutes. Power is derived from an electric motor running 151 horsepower and 247 pounds-feet of torque.
More Hydrogen Fuel Stations Coming
In an effort to expand the hydrogen refueling network, Toyota continues to partner with FirstElement Fuels and Shell to support the creation of a broad network of hydrogen infrastructure in California, with an additional twelve stations projected to open in 2018. The automaker is also collaborating with Air Liquide, a producer of industrial gases, to set up a network of 12 hydrogen fueling stations stretching from New York to Boston, with the first station expected to launch in Boston later this year.
In addition, Toyota is building a new Tri-Gen facility at the Port of Long Beach that will use bio-waste sourced from California’s agricultural industry to generate water, electricity and hydrogen. The hydrogen will fuel all Toyota fuel cell vehicles moving through the Port, including new deliveries of the Mirai sedan and Toyota’s Heavy-Duty hydrogen fuel cell Class 8 truck, known as Project Portal.
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