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Toyota is incentivizing customers to purchase the Mirai in order to support the success of hydrogen fuel technology

Anyone interested in receiving a complimentary vehicle?

Act quickly to receive a $40,000 discount on the 2023 Toyota Mirai, originally priced at $52,000. Considering the $15,000 worth of complimentary hydrogen over a six-year period and the option of a 0% interest loan, Toyota is effectively offering a $3,000 incentive for individuals to acquire the vehicle.

Finding hydrogen to power it would be highly beneficial.

Toyota’s recent discount follows Shell’s decision to shut down its hydrogen filling stations in California three weeks ago. Although the oil company originally had seven stations, five of which were not functioning, this accounted for over 10% of the stations in California, primarily concentrated around Los Angeles and San Francisco. According to the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership, 25% of the remaining vehicles are not operational.

California remains the sole state where a fuel cell vehicle is viable, provided there is a nearby operational filling station. Moreover, when you squint,. Tilted your head.

Honda recently transformed its popular CR-V into a plug-in hybrid fuel-cell vehicle, resembling Frankenstein’s monster.

The crossover’s battery has a capacity of 17.7 kWh, offering an electric-only range of 29 miles. Once the battery is depleted, the front-mounted fuel cell begins utilizing hydrogen from two carbon-fiber tanks. One tank is located under the rear seat, while the other is positioned behind, occupying a significant portion of the trunk space.

Despite the complexity and compromises, what are the outcomes? A total range of 270 miles is equivalent to that of a mid-range electric crossover. The electric vehicle is not limited to operating solely in Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Hydrogen shows promise as a fuel source for various sectors of a carbon-neutral economy, including industrial heat, steel production, and long-distance shipping. Many hydrogen startups position themselves as zero-carbon solutions for various sectors. Electric Hydrogen, having secured $600 million in funding, is targeting industries such as steel, power, methanol, and ammonia production. Advanced Ionics, a finalist in the 2023 Startup Battlefield, is sending the hydrogen that its electrolyzers produce to ammonia and chemical producers. Hgen is tracking steel and ammonia. Do you notice a pattern?

Hydrogen has not gained popularity for powering passenger cars and trucks. Hydrogen production and distribution remain insufficient for Mirai or CR-V owners to embark on road trips. In addition, despite the affordable cost of the Mirai, fuel cells remain expensive. To effectively reduce carbon emissions, FCEVs must utilize green hydrogen instead of the current dominant gray hydrogen derived from fossil fuels. Until that occurs, they are only slightly more beneficial for the climate compared to advanced hybrids.

In the short term, it is evident that electric vehicles will depend on batteries. What motivates Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and other companies to remain optimistic about hydrogen technology?

Understanding the motives behind automakers’ promotion of fuel cells is challenging due to the secrecy of boardroom discussions. Skeptics suggest that automakers are aware of the delayed readiness of hydrogen infrastructure and fuel-cell vehicles. By highlighting the benefits of fast fueling, they aim to sway consumers and policymakers hesitant about electric vehicles towards fossil-fuel-powered options for the time being. It appears that they aimed to project an environmentally friendly and technologically advanced image without embracing electric vehicles, which are typically associated with low-emissions transportation.

One perspective is that the companies are unable to overcome their institutional inertia. Fuel cells could potentially generate enthusiasm among the companies’ current engineers and executives. Similar to internal combustion engines, they are intricate and primarily mechanical, operated by pumps and tubes and released through exhaust pipes. Additionally, a significant amount of design and manufacturing expertise can be retained internally, in contrast to batteries that are typically outsourced to suppliers.

Automakers may believe that consumers will not switch until the time it takes to fill up matches that of gas-powered vehicles. Although electric vehicle charging times are decreasing, they are unlikely to ever reach the five-minute threshold achievable by hydrogen fueling. Automakers may genuinely think that an additional five or 10 minutes could be a deciding factor for the majority of consumers.

One day, automakers may be proven correct. If hydrogen startups are successful and can meet industrial and shipping demand, it may be feasible to introduce fuel-cell vehicles to the general public. Is that day scheduled for a decade from now? Perhaps 20? Currently, it is not part of any plans.

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