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Is Toyota's Mirai the car of the future?

autos Updated: Nov 18, 2014 11:47 IST
AFP
Toyota Mirai

The-future-has-arrived-and-it-s-called-the-Toyota-Mirai-Photo-AFP

Toyota has chosen to name its first hydrogen fuel cell car after the Japanese word for ‘future' and claims that the new model represents a turning point in the automotive industry.

The Mirai, which until now had been known by its concept car name of the FCV, has been 10 years in development. It will be officially unveiled to the world on Tuesday at the LA Auto Show, and will be going on sale in the US at some point in 2015.

As well as officially naming the car in a special event on Monday, Toyota's president and CEO, Akio Toyoda, described it as an environmentally-friendly car that will be fun to drive and that "lets you have it all with no compromises."

"We imagined a world filled with vehicles that would diminish our dependence on oil and reduce harm to the environment. It was a bold, but inspiring goal. And, today it is a reality," he said.

Despite the huge strides made by Tesla in developing electric cars that are desirable, fun to drive and that don't require overnight recharging every 100km, the hydrogen fuel cell is still considered the solution to making future cars greener.

The Mirai, for example, can travel 300 miles (over 480 km) on a single tank of hydrogen and refueling takes roughly five minutes. It takes a Tesla supercharger 20 minutes to put a 50 percent charge on a Model S when it's running low on power.

However, unlike for plug-in electric vehicles, the infrastructure needed to support fuel cell cars -- i.e., hydrogen filling stations -- is almost non-existent. There is a small network of refueling points in California, but beyond the west coast, they're a rare sight.

As well as announcing the car, Toyota also confirmed that it is building 12 hydrogen stations across New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, to go with the 19 it has planned for California.