Toyota Mirai – A Revolution Unnoticed

Originally this was to be Mirai vs. Clarity, but despite visiting various Honda dealers, I couldn’t find any Claritys. I am told they are available on lease only.

So having mercilessly slated the CR-V I now feel I should point out that Toyota are first to market with a truly revolutionary product. You fill it up like traditional gas, but the only emissions are water. No dirty fumes at the tailpipe, no coal burned at the powerstation to charge the battery of a plug in electric hairdryer car. World leading, undeniably cool, and therefore worthy of scrutiny.

While sporting the best iteration of Toyota’s “angry insect” corporate nose, the Mirai looks like a upmarket Prius. Somehow, this doesn’t sit right. Prius has the same profile of tail pipe emissions as my E55 – sure, less than the Benz per mile, and certainly far cleaner than pre-73 cars, but still a significant environmental footprint, and one which grows with each mile driven – drive the Prius 50 miles, and the Benz only 30, and it is the “greener” vehicle. By extreme contrast, beyond tires, the Mirai has no environmental footprint once it is built, regardless of the miles driven.

However, for the marketeers, it is easy to see why the Mirai is placed in relation to the Prius. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tech is expensive: the car in the showroom stickered at $58k, 30k more than the plug in hybrid Prius Plus. You could have two Prius pluses instead of a Mirai. More, Mirai is inconvenient to fuel – there are few stations even in the Bay Area – and this level of commitment means only hardcore greenies – and perversely, your writer – would consider it.

The bloke in the showroom, who had a direct and likeable manner (thanks for employing people with real brains in the dealership here, Toyota) showed me how to gas up on a little in showroom wall display they have: while the actual male and female connectors on the pump and car look different, the opening of the gas flap on the body, and the feel of the pump in your hand are identical to filling up traditional gas or diesel. It was the salesguy who told me that finding places to pump hydrogen remains an issue – there are three stations in the Bay Area, IIRC, but each perhaps an hour from my home.

I considered a test drive, and I daresay I will in time. But, really, what do you think I will find ? AE86 excitement or Prius airport monorail? I hardly think the former, but I should try.

I am excited about the Mirai because it is a car which is part of the solution to global warming, not part of the problem – to say it again, the only output is water – and the sooner people who don’t enjoy cars and motoring but just want to get around can start driving cars like this, and stop burning oil the sooner I can rest easy that my hobby isn’t going to be made illegal in the next oil crisis.