Toyota to Begin Selling Hydrogen Models in December
|   Saturday, November 29, 2014
Although the numbers won't be large, Toyota will begin selling its hydrogen-powered Mirai in December. First sales will be in the automaker's home market. It will reach the US and European markets about the middle of next year.

According to the Associated Press, Toyota believes its sales goals are realistic. Because of the price and limitations on the availability of its fuel, hydrogen, the automaker expects very low volume when it begins offering the Mirai for sale.
The Mirai was unveiled officially this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

According to Yoshikazu Tanaka, deputy chief engineer for next generation vehicle development, the automaker expects to sell only 400 Mirai's in Japan and 300 worldwide this year.

Tanaka acknowledged that some might call this a risky move – to officially offer vehicles that are expensive and have a relatively expensive ($57,600 after taxes in Japan) – however, Toyota views this as a challenge. He likened it to the chicken-egg question situation and noted that if an automaker did not offer a hydrogen-powered vehicle then it is likely that a hydrogen fueling network won't be built.

For example, Tanaka pointed to the Prius. At first, selling Prius, Toyota's popular gasoline-electric hybrid series, was a challenge for the automaker. However, today, nearly two decades after its launch, Prius is one of Toyota's most successful lines, selling hundreds of thousands every year.

"It was a big challenge when we first introduced the Prius, or hybrid car, in 1997 … And it's an even bigger challenge this time because there is no infrastructure, and we're trying to lead" the commercialization of fuel cell cars, the Toyota engineer said.

A forward-looking model, Mirai (which also means future), Toyota weighted its performance toward the mid-range (from 25 to 40 mph) so that it would attract more buyers.

The Mirai, a model on which Toyota is pinning its hopes for a solution to the emissions problem, is a zero-emissions vehicle. Using an engine that is modified for hydrogen as its fuel, the Mirai uses a high-pressure onboard fuel system. The hydrogen is force-fed into two tanks. When one is depleted, the other still has fuel. Range for the Mirai is said to be about 300 miles.
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