July 18, 2019 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Isabel N. Delos Reyes

2019 Toyota Mirai

The Future Today

Drum roll! Here is what I reckon is the future of alternative fuel. It has taken quite a long time to develop by multiple manufacturers over the years, some of whom even gave up entirely because of the costs and potential danger. But now Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda have begun selling their products to consumers although the promotional lease programs still exist. The Honda Clarity is currently the hot rod of the three brands having the most range as well as being the most dynamic. So even before stepping into the Nautical Blue Metallic Mirai test unit with Deep Ocean Blue interior, I already had the idea that it may not ride as well or run as lively as the Honda which has a more powerful electric motor, bigger brakes, and fully independent suspension.

The front end of the Mirai is familiar as its similar to the Prius Prime which we have also reviewed before, but the rear is definitely an acquired taste. The instruments and switchgear are also very familiar as they are also mostly picked from the Toyota Prius parts bin. The Mirai is actually quicker, more refined, quieter, and a better performer than any Prius.

It’s almost as long as a Camry but like the Prius Prime, it only seats 4 adults with a relatively airy cabin. The rest of the car’s real estate was used to accommodate the intricate new Fuel Cell system. It has the best interior design and fitment that also includes the best sound system in the Toyota alternative fuel family, an 11-speaker Entune™ JBL®6 w/Clari-Fi with a 7-in. touch-screen infotainment system.

So far, in North America, Fuel Cell vehicles are sold or leased only in the Golden State of California. As a promo, Toyota will allow you to drive a Mirai for US$349 a month for three years, including free $15,000.00 worth of hydrogen fuel.  Given the current cost of Hydrogen fuel and its relative scarcity at the moment, the cost for a 5-minute fill-up from empty would cost roughly $85 which is certainly not cheap at the moment.  But with more hydrogen stations opening, the price will come down eventually as Fuel Cell vehicles are also said to be twice as efficient as conventional vehicles. With the scale up, the cost of hydrogen is supposed to approach the U.S. Department of Energy’s target of $4 per kilogram which would calculate to roughly half to two-thirds the cost of gasoline. The California Fuel Cell Partnership group is pursuing a network of 1,000 hydrogen stations by 2030. Keep in mind that the only byproducts of a Fuel Cell engine are heat and water, with no emissions whatsoever aside from tire wear.

Now the questions are how is the hydrogen fuel made and am I not sitting on a Hydrogen bomb?! Toyota positioned the fuel cell under the front seat! There is a 1.5-kWh battery in the trunk along with the smaller of two carbon-fiber enforced hydrogen tanks, with the larger tank stowed under the rear seats. Commercial hydrogen fuel is produced from mainly three sources, natural gas, electrolysis, and steam-methane reforming. Electrolysis is used to separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms from water via multiple energy sources from hydroelectric, geothermal, nuclear and so on. Steam-methane reforming, extracts hydrogen from methane. Its all supposed to be cleaner and safer for the environment. And in the unlikely event of a collision or accident, Toyota made sure that there are multiple safety measures employed which includes safely releasing the hydrogen into the atmosphere. Oh, the definitive answer to the bomb question is that the chemical makeup of the commercial hydrogen fuel is totally different from that of a hydrogen bomb.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 1.5-kWh air-cooled nickel-metal hydride battery pack, Fuel Cell solid polymer electrolyte
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 152 hp
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 247 lb-ft
Transmission 1-Speed Direct Drive

Performance

Top Speed 178 km/h (111 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 9.1 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) MPGe 67 City & 67 Highway (500-kilometer [312 miles] fuel range)

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) US$ 58,385.00
What's Great Avantgarde, tasteful interior, zero-emissions, 5-minutes to refuel from empty, 3-year complimentary Hydrogen fuel, strong range.
What's Not So Overall exterior design is an acquired taste, best used in California, limited to 2+2 occupancy, modest dynamic performance.
C! Editors Rating 9.5/10
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