Car manufacturers are developing the next big leap in automotive technology and Toyota will take the first small step into the zero emission’s era when the company launches the first fuel-cell powered car with the launch of the Mirai in 2015.
Fuel-cell technology is prohibitively expensive to produce which is the main reason why the technology has remained on the drawing board for so long. With the launch of the Mirai next year Toyota hopes to change that notion, but expect early adopters to pay a hefty premium for such gleaming new technology.
The auto industry predicts that by 2025 fuel cell technology will become more commercially viable for mass market use as increased production will bring down the costs of development.
Fuel-cell technology combines hydrogen and oxygen in the air to generate electricity and offers zero emissions because the by-product is water vapor and heat.
However the lack of a re-fueling infrastructure and high development costs in addition to safety concerns over the highly combustible hydrogen fuel have held the development cycle back.
Nevertheless car manufactures have been working on the technology for decades. Fuel cell cars offer greater range than electric cars but are expected to cost twice the amount.
The Toyota Mirai is expected to be priced at around£50k when it goes on sale in the UK in September 2015 followed by Germany and Denmark and then a further 17 euro zone territories by 2017. Toyota’s annual sales target is around 50-100 per year, presumably for each territory.
The Mirai will take three minutes to re-fuel and have the same cruising range of a petrol powered car. Toyota President, Akio Toyoda, recently said “Our fuel cell vehicle runs on hydrogen that can be made from virtually anything, even garbage,” he said. “It has a fuel cell that creates enough electricity to power a house for about a week. This is a car that lets you have it all with no compromises.”
Mean while Honda have announced they too will be introducing a fuel-cell car but a recent statement confirmed that it will be delayed for a year with the release now scheduled for 2016 and not 2015 as originally intended.