To hear Toyota executives tell it, battery electric cars don’t stand a chance in the real world, and that hydrogen fuel cell cars are the real future. And at least in terms of driving range, the Toyota Mirai has fulfilled one of its biggest promises, providing over 300 miles of driving range per tank of hydrogen, landing it an official EPA rating of 67 MPGe.
While the first Mirai FCVs won’t be delivered to California customers until this fall, Toyota is already firing up the hype train in anticipation of growing interest and sales. The initial launch will be limited to California, and eventually move its way to New England, but it’ll be several years before Mirai production can even hope to catch up electric cars like the Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S. Despite investing millions to increase production, Toyota only expects to build about 3,000 Mirai FCVs per year by the end of 2017.
However, the 312 miles of driving range from the pair of high-pressure hydrogen tanks means the Mirai has more driving range than even the farthest-travelling Tesla Model S. Whether or not the extra 42 miles of range is worth a serious lack of hydrogen filling stations is up to customers to decide,though Toyota seems confident the quick refill ability of the Mirai will make it a popular alternative to EVs.
The Mirai is also more efficient than the only other real hydrogen car competitor in California, the Hyundai Tucson FCV, which was only rated at 50 MPGe and 265 miles per fill-up. Toyota and Hyundai are also both offering free hydrogen fuel to go with their cars, if only because they haven’t figured out a totally accurate way to count how much hydrogen is being pumped into a FCV. Meanwhile, Tesla has committed to keeping its fast Superchargers to being free for as long as someone owns their car, and the owner of any electric car can charge up at home for pennies compared to conventional fuel, whereas hydrogen will eventually cost as much or more than gasoline.
How can hydrogen fuel cell vehicles hope to compete with that?