Toyota will preview the next generation of its groundbreaking, zero-emission Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show. “Mirai Concept,” a final-stage development model of the second-generation Mirai will be on view at “Future Expo” from October 24 until November 4 at Megaweb.
The totally re-designed Mirai reflects a major step forward for FCEVs and the potential of a hydrogen society, boasting significantly greater range, improved driving performance, and an elegant, sporty design that offers increased passenger room and comfort.
Launched in 2014, the first-generation Toyota Mirai proved the global potential of hydrogen to power clean and sustainable mobility, combining a driving range with refueling time equivalent to conventional vehicles and emissions of nothing but water. Since then, approximately 10,000 Mirai have been sold globally, helping pave the way towards a hydrogen society that will reduce emissions, diversify energy sources, and generate global economic growth.
The Mirai is based on Toyota’s premium rear-wheel drive platform and debuts a dramatic yet refined coupe-inspired design with improved passenger room and comfort. The second-gen Mirai will go on sale in late 2020, initially in Japan, North America and Europe, and will deliver a significant evolution of Toyota’s hydrogen FCEV powertrain technology and offer a critical look into the future of Toyota’s lineup.
The dramatic change in design also signals a new driving experience from Mirai. A targeted 30-percent increase in range is achieved by an improvement in fuel cell system performance and increased hydrogen storage capacity. Additionally, the new Mirai will offer a more powerful, engaging and even quieter driving experience than its pioneering forerunner.
“We have pursued making a car that customers feel like driving all the time, a car that has emotional and attractive design appeal, as well as dynamic and responsive driving performance that can bring a smile to the faces of drivers,” said Yoshikazu Tanaka, Chief Engineer of the Mirai. “I want customers to say, ‘I chose the Mirai not because it’s an FCEV, but because I really wanted this car, and it just happened to be an FCEV.’”
At its core, the Mirai is an electric vehicle, but it never needs to be plugged in to recharge. An FCEV generates its own electricity onboard from hydrogen & oxygen, with water as the only tailpipe emission. A fill-up takes just about five minutes at an SAE-conforming hydrogen fueling station in California or Hawaii (with stations also planned for the Northeast and other areas).
Toyota is working to develop a line of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and includes FCEVs in its electrification roadmap. Toyota projects that fuel cell electric technology will one day be as common as the company’s hybrid electric technology.
The second-generation Mirai is built on a rear-wheel drive platform, a major departure from the original front-wheel drive version in terms of design. The new platform allows for a highly rigid body that is lower, longer, and wider, with its bolder stance accentuated by available 20-inch alloy wheels. The design is more aerodynamic, yet also emotionally evocative without being aggressive; zero-emissions doesn’t have to mean dull.
The new Mirai’s clean, modern profile was inspired by coupes, yet the new design is also more approachable than before. By taking advantage of the new platform, there’s more interior space which allows for five passenger seating for more family flexibility.
Accentuating the new Mirai’s smoother, more sculptural form is a brand-new blue color never before featured on a Toyota which achieves its brightness and deepness through a multiple-layer painting process.
The new Mirai’s interior matches the refined tone of the exterior, its clean and modern layout infused with a hint of futurism without appearing off-putting. Drivers of current conventional luxury models will feel immediately familiar behind the wheel of the new Mirai. To that end, Toyota made the cabin even quieter, enhancing the luxurious ambience.
The simple, flowing lines of the dash neatly integrate a higher level of user tech in the new Mirai, including a standard 8-inch digital combination meter and available digital rearview mirror that displays images from a rear camera. The standard Toyota Premium Multimedia system, which uses a 12.3-inch high-resolution TFT touchscreen, includes navigation and a 14-speaker JBL sound system.
Toyota’s Fuel Cell Future
Toyota remains committed to hydrogen fuel cell technology as a powertrain with tremendous potential. It’s a scalable technology, which means it can be made small enough to power a phone or large enough to power a building, or anything in between. For example, Toyota installed fuel cell powertrains into a test fleet of Kenworth class-8 semi-trucks that can pull a maximum 80,000-lb. load. These powerful, zero-emission big rigs are currently used for moving freight in and around the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, California.
More FCEVs are planned to enter the market over the next few years, as the cost, size and weight of fuel cell systems continue to decrease and the fueling infrastructure grows. Among the advantages of FCEV technology is a quick refueling time (about the same as conventional gasoline-fueled vehicles).