Toyota Mirai Driver Comes Clean About His Hydrogen-Powered Car – Forbes

Posted: Sunday, January 08, 2017

Toyota hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Toyota Mirai. Mirai means “the future” in Japanese. Photo credit:  YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

Toyota calls its hydrogen-powered car the Mirai.  You pronounce it: Me-Rye. Mirai is the English rendering of the original Japanese characters 未來 which mean “the future”。

I can’t help it but every time I see the name Mirai, my mind auto-edits the word to become mirage. But the Toyota Mirai is no illusion.  In fact, there are already more than 1,000 on American roads.

So, they are officially here and now. But are these new hydrogen cars really mirai, really our future?

Answer: A big maybe. There’s range anxiety. But of a different sort from battery EVs. In this case, the challenge is “gas” stations are few and far between—for now.

Doubts about hydrogen are not stopping everyone. Take Dan Sperling for example, the founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California-Davis. The Mirai has been his main vehicle since January, 2016.

Sperling is uniquely qualified to talk about zero-emission vehicles. He’s the author of the book Two Billion Cars: Driving Towards Sustainability. He’s also appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

He and his wife (she drives a Tesla Model S) recently piloted the Mirai from Davis, California to a destination 300 miles south. I caught up with him to find out what life is like behind the wheel of a Mirai.

Me: How much did the Mirai run you?

Sperling: Cost for a new one is around $35,000. I leased mine in January 2016 for $350 a month. Toyota gave a debit card worth $15,000 which I can use at all H2 stations for all three years of the lease.


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