Sales expectations for the Toyota Mirai may be modes, but the automaker says it’s investing an additional $165 million to triple production of their hydrogen fuel cell sedan. At last count Toyota had just 200 orders for the Mirai, but it now expects to exceed its initial allotment of 700 vehicles by the December 15th release date, reports Green Car Congress.
Toyota had planned to produce just 700 Mirai fuel cell sedans through 2015, with 400 units earmarked for Japan, 50 units in Europe, and the remainder sent to Southern California, the only place in the U.S. with the necessary infrastructure. But apparently private and public sector interest has been strong enough that Toyota wants to triple production of the fuel stacks at the former Lexus LFA factory by the end of 2015. That would put about 2,100 Mirai on the road in 2016, and Toyota has plans to sell at least 3,000 of its fuel cell vehicles in the U.S. by the end of 2017.
Are people more interested in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles than I thought, or is this just the initial surge of early adopters? My gut says its the latter, but I’ve got no proof to back it up. I do however have a previous example to go by, and that would be the Fisker Karma. There were plenty of orders at the onset, but production and sales slowed soon after launch once the myriad of issues began to arise. I’m not saying the Toyota Mirai is a half-baked product, but I am saying it’s credentials as a replacement for fossil fuels is suspect, and the advantage Toyota claims the it has over comparable electric vehicles is negligible at best.
Orders are orders though, and I’m all about having options other than gasoline. If Toyota and other automakers can make hydrogen affordable, plentiful, and sustainably, I wouldn’t mind sharing the road with fuel cell vehicles in the not too distant future.