Toyota has launched the second generation of its groundbreaking Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car with promises of more range, more passenger space and even the ability to clean the air around it as you drive.
The first generation Mirai was launched in 2014 but production numbers were kept fairly limited. However, Toyota is aiming for a ten-fold increase in sales of the new model as it looks to encourage the use of FCEVs as an alternative to battery electric vehicles in some segments.
The new model is built on a new platform shared with the Lexus LC and LS luxury grand tourer and saloons, which Toyota says has allowed it to improve upon the original model in several key areas.
First among these is the range, which has increased by 30 per cent to around 400 miles thanks to the addition of a third fuel tank beneath the vehicle floor.
The new platform has also allowed Toyota to move the fuel cell stack - also all-new - from beneath the floor to the front of the vehicle, where a traditional engine would be. This has created a larger five-seat passenger compartment with more legroom for rear seat passengers.
The new fuel cell stack and associated systems are smaller and lighter than in the previous model but bring more power and better performance. The new fuel cell is 50 per cent lighter than before but power output is increased from 114kW to 128kW (153bhp to 172bhp). The battery is also much smaller than before but with a greater energy density following a switch from the nickel-metal hydride of the first-generation to a lithium-ion battery.
Other drivetrain systems have been updated and relocated, helping give the Mirai a 50:50 weight balance and a lower centre of gravity. The suspension has been upgraded to a multilink arrangement front and rear and thicker anti-roll bars, while the GA-L platform has allowed for significantly more structural bracing. Toyota says that combined, the changes give the Mirai a much more dynamic driving experience.
The new platform also means that the new Mirai is lower, longer and wider than before, with less awkward styling.
As well as producing zero tailpipe emissions, the Mirai actively cleans the air around it thanks to a filter in the air intake which captures microscopic pollution particles including sulphur dioxides nitrous oxides and fine particulate matter - PM2.5.
Toyota hasn’t confirmed pricing for the new Mirai yet but with its ambition of increasing sales says it should be around 20 per cent cheaper than the outgoing model. With a first-gen car costing around £66,000, expect the new model to cost around £53,000.