Do you remember who was the first to release a hybrid car in vehicle production series – you would be wrong to believe it was Toyota with its Prius model. The situation is similar today with the company’s first fuel cell car – the Mirai.
Toyota was not the first to sell a hybrid vehicle, but its Prius line did revolutionize the segment and lifted it from niche status. Again, they are not the first to sell a fuel cell car, but the Mirai carries the company’s hopes of turning the segment just like the Prius did. Still, there are huge disparities between the small workshop (actually the same used to build the Lexus LFA supercar) used to produce the futuristic technological marvel the Mirai represents and the massive assembly lines that construct the automaker’s normal models, including the Prius. Just three Mirai cars are on the floor each day, with just 13 (!) workers had building them as if they are Rolls-Royce models. It could be seen ironic that Toyota’s most advanced vehicle, which uses hydrogen to produce electricity and only emits water is given such a low tech treatment. President Akio Toyoda tells us the Mirai is actually a return to origins, with express attention given to quality and pioneering spirit.
The master craftsmen used on the Mirai “project” were taken here because of their car-building acumen, “These facilities are not so advanced. Rather, we rely on the work of our skilled employees,” Toyoda commented. But the low-profile approach also shows the challenges of imposing the new technology. Demand is still in its infancy and the manual approach towards low productivity also ahs an impact on the car’s already high price tag. Toyota does say it would lift production from 2,000 vehicles annually in 2016 to 3,000 units per year in 2017.
Via Automotive News Europe