What’s in a name?
Mirai – meaning, 'future' in Japanese – signals the start of a new age of vehicles. It uses hydrogen, an important future energy source, to generate electric power, delivering better environmental performance, while giving customers the convenience and driving pleasure they expect from any car.
The technology behind it
The Mirai uses the Toyota Fuel Cell System (TFCS), which brings together fuel cell and hybrid technologies. It includes Toyota’s new proprietary fuel cell stack and high-pressure hydrogen tanks. The TFCS is more energy efficient than internal combustion engines and emits no CO2 or pollutants when the vehicle is driven. A decent cruising range and a hydrogen refuelling time of around three minutes, provides the same level of convenience as a petrol-powered car.
Hydrogen can be generated from many natural sources and man-made by-products, including sewage sludge. It can also be created from water, using natural renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. When compressed, its energy density is higher than that of batteries, and it’s relatively easy to store and transport. These qualities give it the potential to be used in the future for power generation and a wide range of other applications.
Power and performance
The new Toyota FC stack has a maximum power output of 114kW/335Nm, which makes this green car capable of going from 0-100km/h in 9.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 179km/h. It has a cruising range of approximately 480km.
Sales will begin in areas where hydrogen refuelling stations are in place. The likelihood of this vehicle reaching local shores seems slim to none, as our current infrastructure needs work. However, should it make its way to South Africa, it will provide us with an interesting alternative to the electric and internal combustion options currently available.