Toyota’s fuel-cell vehicle aims to emulate Prius success image

The Japanese company, the largest automaker in the world, has revealed the production-ready version of the Mirai fuel-cell vehicle, slated to go on sales in 2015.

We’ve already known about this vehicle a lot, since the prototypes have been shown to the public as early as 2013. The Japanese are ready to enter a new gamble, much alike the one they took back in the day when they first introduced the Prius hybrid. Four cities in Japan will get the first retail units of the model on December 15 and a wider, US and European release is slated for the fourth quarter of 2015. The Mirai is among the first of the next wave of ultimate “green cars” – they use fuel cells to produce electricity from a mix of hydrogen fuel and oxygen in the air. The technology has been used for the Apollo moon project in the 1960s and its only by-products are heat and water – the latter so pure we could drink it.

While it has a bigger 300 miles (483 km) range and a refueling time of under five minutes, the Mirai has two big disadvantages when competing with (now) traditional electrics (battery-powered): purchase price and lack of refueling infrastructure. Unlike the Prius, which back in 1997 only needed regular gas, the Mirai will need an extensive refueling infrastructure, akin to the one being developed for the battery-operated electrics. When it goes on sale, in Japan the model will be 7.24 million yen ($63,000) and in the US $57,500. Both countries offer many purchase incentives – which could further lower the price – by around 3 million yen in some regions of Japan and to $45,000 after federal and state incentives in America.

Via Reuters, Bloomberg