First hydrogen car goes for a rally

Hydrogen cars were once only leased to customers and that too for short periods, but the Toyota announced that the Mirai will be the first hydrogen fuel cell driven vehicle developed to be sold in the market. With regards to design, the Mirai borrows several design cues from the Toyota Avalon, where the interior is appointed with a silly gear lever and fancy spaceship like controls.

The Mirai surprisingly offers an excellent driving experience, and is driven by onsite hydrogen fuel cells which help power the vehicle’s 153 horsepower electric motors. The power of the Mirai may not be enough to raise eyebrows, but its instant torque makes it worth a second look. The Mirai boasts excellent weight distribution, and a considerably lower center of gravity compared to its gas powered counterparts owing to low placement of the fuel cell stack and hydrogen tanks. Don’t be thinking you will be getting conventional car insurance on a  car like this though.

This collectively results in a vehicle that can bolt much faster than what’s expected from its 4078 lbs curb weight, and offers no compromise when compared to a gas power family hauler. Research from Toyota indicates that the hydrogen tanks of the Mirai can be replenished in less than five minutes allowing the vehicle to travel for roughly 300 miles. The Mirai was launched at the WRC (World Rally Championship) in Germany a week ago.

In order to make it rally compatible, the Mirai at the WRC was outfitted with a roll cage and race seats along with competition tires, WRC style decals and improved brake pads. It was driven by journalist Mitsuhiro Kunisawa, and to aid him with his efforts, a mobile hydrogen refueling unit was provided by Toyota Germany, which was capable of replenishing the plastic and carbon fiber tank in less than three minutes.

Despite the modifications received by the Mirai, the 152 Brake Horsepower, 335 Nm fuel cell powertrain is still the same, and is mated with oxygen and hydrogen in a fuel cell to generate electricity to power an electric motor that is linked with the front wheels of the vehicle. The motor helps the car sprint from 0-62 mph in just 9.6 seconds, with a maximum speed of 111 mph. Mirai’s chief engineer – Yoshikazu Tanaka says that his dream is to see fuel cell vehicles competing in WRC events.

Sold in Japan since December, the Toyota Mirai won’t be available in Europe until October 2015 with prices starting at €66,000. Prices of the Mirai in the UK will start at £63,104, which will bring in standard equipment such as heated seats and a heated steering wheel. With zero emissions, a 371 liter capacity boot and ability to travel for 300 miles once fully refueled, the Mirai will be pitted against the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell and Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV.