Japan's prime minister has a lead foot, apparently. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently had a photo op with Toyota's first production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, even getting behind the wheel for a spin (no chauffeur for him, so much respect on our part). His primary impression was that the car had great pickup, before settling on the more politically correct view of noting the vehicle's lack of emissions.

In the 87-second video below, we can see the prime minister's appreciation of the car's performance as Toyota Motor Corp. Managing Officer Satoshi Ogiso dutifully rides shotgun. Abe also noted that he was "cheering" for the car's success.

And he will apparently do his part there. The Japanese government will provide incentives worth about $20,000 per vehicle, bringing down its out-of-pocket price to less than $50,000 from about $69,000. Toyota in June announced pricing on the sedan, which will start sales next spring. The car can go 435 miles on a full tank from a hydrogen refueling station, wherever those can be found.

Recent reports claim Toyota will name the model Mirai, which means "future" in Japanese, though the company hasn't made any official announcement. In the present, at least, it is making Japan's leader happy.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      goodoldgorr
      • 1 Year Ago
      this car is beautiful and I think that consumers will appreciate it.
        Aaron
        • 11 Months Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Please see your ophthalmologist immediately.
      Jesse Gurr
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh, at first glance I thought this article was talking about a FCV pickup truck.
        DarylMc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jesse Gurr
        Since this is an American based site I agree. Acceleration might have been a better title.
      EVSUPERHERO
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is really great! Is Japan going to provide free fuel and fueling stations like Tesla? The Japanese prime minister would crap his pants if he floored a Tesla. He has no idea what, "going all out", is.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      It seems to be rather incontinent. A diaper, perhaps? ;-)
      Randy C
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yea, but is he going to like paying for the infrastructure? The reason we're not using HFC to power our cars is infrastructure. Great, you have this nice new technology zero emission vehicle. Now where is fuel going to come from? These stations are very expensive and not all that safe. There already has been an explosion at one that injured a delivery driver. As for the actual hydrogen: If you're thinking electrolysis (aka splitting water), it takes 4 times more electricity to go a mile than a BEV. If you're thinking thinking leftovers from hydrocarbon processing, it's contaminated with carbon (a fuel cell killer). Hydrogen does not exist by itself on planet Earth, it's always combined with something else requiring some kind of (not cheap) extraction process. In order to carry enough fuel for a minimal 100 mile range it has to be compressed to very high pressures or stored as a super cold liquid. Hydrogen at high pressures will infiltrate steel and change its chemical structure making it brittle. So after a couple years you're driving around with what amounts to a glass fuel tank. If you go the liquid route, any spill is an big problem. On people, instant tissue damage, I'm sure you've seen those liquid nitrogen demonstrations. LOX combined with other things like an oily glove can lead to an explosive that when hit goes boom. (Seen the video?) People who handle LOX have special training and protective clothing that your average house wife wont have. It's what these politicians and dreamers don't know that's going to doom us.
        DaveMart
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Randy C
        Its a shame that the DOE is not as well informed as you. Write to them immediately to show them where their calculations are astray. http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs/program_plan2011.pdf
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          The DOE and EPA are yet another politically motivated bureaucracy with the primary goal of perpetuating themselves (keeping themselves busy claiming they are under-funded, and under-manned). Here's some examples of our hard-working, but brilliant scientists and engineers, working for the EPA: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/25/epa-pooping-hallways_n_5530650.html http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2622503/How-pornography-EPA-employee-lose-job-Congress-fumes-daily-porn-surfing-EPA-employee-STILL-collecting-120-000-salary.html
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          LOL! David Martin, that was funny! You are right though, we should all be writing our congressmen and tell them we don't want to pay for the oil corps new fossil fueling stations so they can profit off us.
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      Environmental regulations and public pressure have forced auto makers to produce low to zero emission vehicles. When every auto maker is jumping into EV and PHEV to either satisfy regulation or establish market share, the competition will ultimately put Japan at a disadvantage as Japan, a nation of volcanic islands having little natural resources, must import massive quantity of lithium, nickel, silver, copper, and other exotic elements for battery production. Japan's big bet is on hydrogen fuel cell which does not rely on massive import of exotic materials or subjected to less politic of the foreign resources. PM Abe is a nationalist who senses the challenges facing Japan as Thailand, Taiwan, S Korea, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, China, and even the Philippines have become manufacturing-industrial power house in their own right. Within the decades, many of these nations will be exporters of ICE vehicles just as S Korea have been exporting Hyundai and KIA, today, giving Toyota, Honda, and Nissan a run for their money. Rooting for the home teams is not a particularly difficult task for nationalist Abe. Whether Abe's populous appeal is feasting whale meat with whalers or driving Toyota FCEV or visiting the infamous Shinto Shrine, Abe's mission is to prolong the tenure of his office and to prevent Japan's falling into a "lost century." His dream, of course, is to restore Japan to the glory days of the Land of the Rising Sun.
        NestT
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Automotive lithium ion batteries do not contain silver nor rare earth metals. There is nothing exotic about lithium,nickel,aluminum, or copper. Most rare item is cobalt. Manufacturing BEV batteries still beats importing hydrocarbons to produce hydrogen. Unlike all the minerals used in batteries hydrocarbons used to produce hydrogen are not recyclable. Using sun and wind power to produce hydrogen from water is economically unfeasible. Radically more efficient is to use that sun and wind power to run BEVs. A Japanese nationalist that is also scientifically literate would pursue BEVs. BTW Big corporations make big stupid mistakes on a fairly regular basis. That is why of the 12 original companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average one went bankrupt and no longer exist. Eight were purchased and are subsidiaries of other companies. And three remain largely intact. Only one, General Electric, is still one of America's leading companies. The collective wisdom of the legacy auto companies(save Renault-Nissan) are smarter than "you" arguments don't wash against history.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NestT
          Why hydrogen? Renewables. Winter.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NestT
          Winter? Wind, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, nuclear, etc. And even solar PV. With my solar PV system, I only had one winter month where I used more electricity than I generated.
          NestT
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NestT
          Winter? Norway. Arctic Circle. Tesla.
      bluepongo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      " FCV's pickup " , " I was able to go all out " & " lead foot " WOW , I 've got to check out Honorable Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's drift video!!!! Wait wut ? Lame uninspired compliance car. Oh well, at least it's not a Hyundai FCV.... all those recalls don't inspire trust in their new tech ability. :-P
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Japan's PM is in a difficult position. While EV's would appear to be a natural technology for a resource challenged nation like Japan, enhanced electricity production still has a political awkwardness that's best avoided by politicians. Japan is very keen to see the Russia-Japan natural gas pipeline built. Natural gas, and H2 are popular in Japan, for many reasons, not all environmental. For an archipelago nation like Japan, the cost of rolling out H2 refuelling infrastructure is relatively easy, and economically feasible. Domestically, support for HFCV's is electorally popular, and the support of corporations like Toyota, is crucial to electoral success. Die-hard HFCV haters, may condemn Shinzo Abe, but then he doesn't really care since he doesn't rely on their vote to stay in office !
        Dave
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marco Polo
        "Japan is very keen to see the Russia-Japan natural gas pipeline built." Russia is currently building a gas pipeline to China. Japan is concerned that China will use all of the gas and leave none for Japan. That is why the Japanese are looking at Australian brown coal, which no one has any use for. "Toyota eyes state coal for hybrid cars Rick Wallace | The Australian | April 29, 2014 12:00AM VICTORIA’S brown coal could power Toyota’s next-generation hybrid under a multi-billion-dollar plan being promoted by the carmaker and developed by Japanese industrial giant Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The two companies are eyeing brown coal reserves in the ­Latrobe Valley with a plan to convert the coal to hydrogen and ship it in tankers to Japan, where it could be used to fuel vehicles of the future. The scheme appears to have the support of the Victorian government, which is trying to market the state’s vast reserves of brown coal to export orientated projects even though it was stung by the company’s recent move to abandon car manufacturing in Australia. About 2500 jobs will be lost when Toyota ceases making cars in Australia in 2017. The company decided it could not afford to continue making cars here — but it may be that instead it can afford to tap ino Victoria’s brown coal. The new hybrid cars are unlikely to be exported back to Australia but will be destined for “green” markets in Japan and the US. Toyota — which made history with its top-selling Prius hybrid in 2107 — believes that hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles will be the next dominant technology and prove more popular than range-bound pure electric vehicles. Hydrogen, when used in a fuel cell, releases no emissions other than water, but converting the coal to hydrogen gives off large quantities of carbon dioxide. The Toyota/Kawasaki project is therefore likely to depend on the success of the CarbonNet CO2storage project being trialled in Gippsland. Senior Toyota executive Yoshio Ishizaka told The Australian in Tokyo that the project had great potential as long as the Australian and Victorian governments were serious about it. “There is lots of coal, open-cut coal, but it produces lots of CO2. So at the moment it is a kind of white elephant. However, with this kind of new technology it could be a good benefit for Australia, particularly the state of Victoria,’’ he said. “The technology is there to capture carbon, put it into the earth and to say goodbye to the CO2.” Not everyone is as optimistic about the prospects of carbon capture and storage succeeding as Toyota and Kawasaki, but the Victorian government plans to push ahead regardless. Kawasaki has plans to construct a fleet of hydrogen tankers with the first test vessel to be launched in 2017 and tasked with taking hydrogen from Australia if the company is successful in its bid. “Victorian coal is regarded as one of the best potential sources of hydrogen,’’ a Kawasaki spokesman said. “The plan is still in its early stages, with further research, development and analysis in progress. KHI is willing to contribute to building the infrastructure required to enable a new hydrogen-based society as a supplier of its own hi-tech-based products.”
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          @ Dave, Yeah, not a happy thought. (unless you are in business in Gippsland). Brown coal is very pollutant and Australia (Victoria) along with India and the PRC, have the world largest accessible deposits. While the thought of large scale brown coal mining alarms me, some analysis must be given to the Japanese claim that the harmful effect can be minimised to an acceptable level with newly developed technology. Just condemning the Japanese proposal out of blind prejudice, without any scientific study, and detailed analysis would be equally irresponsible of the Victorian government. The economic benefits to a depressed part of Australia, are potentially important to a great many citizens. I guess it's all about how you define " acceptable" ? :)
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          Hi Dave Nice post. With regard to carbon capture it is a bit questionable to me whether it is a simple as saying goodbye to CO2. For a start it's going to be a costly and energy intensive process in itself. Even then it may well turn out that we are simply passing a greater problem to future generations. My concern is much the same when it comes to nuclear waste. I don't think there can be any doubt that fossil fuels will be able to provide energy for many years to come. What I do think is important is to minimise the use of energy and try to use renewables as much as possible.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          Hi Marco Polo I don't know the process they plan but it is probably environmentally better than burning the brown coal in power stations and economically better than leaving it unused. But when you start looking at things like CO2 capture and storage it does seem to me that renewables shouldn't be overlooked.
        DarylMc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Hi Marco Polo I share the same negativity as the most ardent hydrogen fuel cell detractors here. But if it makes sense for Japan to go down that path then I am willing to watch the outcome from the sidelines. Methane hydrate reserves in the oceans may well be a contributing factor in the Japanese manufacturers decisions. Here in Australia with our largely coal powered electricity it is not so clear which energy source for transportation is a cleaner option. At my home I have 5kW of solar panels and I have been entirely thrilled with the energy they pump into the grid. But those panels were Chinese sourced units and have failed after just 18 months. The 20 panels will be replaced at the cost of the installer. I think this is just an early indication of what consumers can expect in many cases and I think it will hurt many people and the whole industry in time to come. I would go as far to say that poor quality solar equipment is likely not much of an environmental benefit. So I see little harm in pursuing fossil fuel based energy sources such as hydrogen and at the same time suggest that people be quite aware that the cheapest solar panels may well cost you money in the very short term.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Hi Marco Polo I think the solar storage problem is already solved but it is just that it is a lot more expensive than feeding power to the grid. With the feed in tariffs now days running at less than 1/3 of the consumer price for coal powered electricity it can only be a growth industry. Many of my rural customers in the past have spent 10's of thousand of dollars to be connected to the electricity grid. It is entirely feasible nowdays that they could use a storage system with renewables such as solar and wind. Re NBN I did see some analysis of the costs to date in the news. 100 billion would have been a fairly pessimistic but entirely possible guess at the cost blowout. But I don't think it would have been obsolete at all. Maybe you are thankful that I am not in politics but I think $4000 per head absolutely worst case scenario for an infrastructure project like that was OK. The fact is that apart from the in the very middle of our cities there is just no guaranteed availability of data services. High speed internet access is something I see as critical infrastructure and the coalition government has done a fairly poor job of implementing it right back to John Howard days. There are just no good available options for many people in this country to get access to it. I feel sorry for Malcolm Turnbull's position because not only is the current government offering promises of a slightly lower standard of service than the previous government, I think what will happen is that they will eventually fail to deliver anything substantial just like the previous government.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Forgot to mention. Fortunately the company which supplied my panels hasn't gone broke yet and have agreed to supply a whole new set. Unfortunately due to the budget nature of the solar installation at my home, my relatives and I will be the ones up on the roof changing the panels:( There is nothing I hate more than having to do a job twice because of skimping on parts. Whether the new panels will last more than 18 months is my concern now.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          @ DarylMc I'm sorry for your troubles with your solar panels. I'm glad the company is at least replacing the defective units. I've been more fortunate, as I bought Australian made panels to replace the early BP units I originally installed many years ago. The US is developing some amazing new Solar technology, and although Solar remains a promising technology, it's practical commercial value is limited by storage ability. Storage capacity is just a matter of time and research. The problems of the previous Australian Federal government, were of it's own making. Like many highly passionate advocates after a long period in opposition, the Labour/ Green alliance found themselves in unprepared for the reality of responsible administration. In opposition there is no danger of having to actually translate ideological concept into practical policies. That's the luxury of opposition ! The government of the day is always on the defensive, since they must wrestle with the myriad difficulties of practical administration. The most passionate advocates for any cause, ignore the practicalities of implementing of their dreams. One-eyed supporters for ideologically driven concepts, seldom think about the downsides, or the practicalities of implementation. Naturally, if these people ever get into a position of power, the inadequacies and impracticalities, of their ill-conceived schemes and projects, are quickly exposed. Unfortunately, often at great public expense and waste ! What angers me, is the ideologues never admit they're wrong, instead they invent excuses or conspiracy theories, etc, anything to avoid facing the simple reality, a huge difference exists between what you think should happen, and the reality of what will happen ! Seeking simplistic solutions to complex issues, is always a recipe for disaster in business, as well as public life.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          @ DarylMc Yes, it's true the previous Labour government, which took office at a time of great economic prosperity, and no debt, managed to produce a monumental disaster of mismanagement, and financial ineptitude, on a scale unseen since the Whitlam years. However, it should be forgotten that the "greens" were even more culpable as the supported and urged the labour party in it's greatest acts of folly. The excuse that Labour minister, were new to administrative power, and overly idealistic, is probably true, but the "greens' proved themselves to be hypocrites and just the old socialist left in green disguise. The NBN, was always a giant folly. If Labour scheme had been allowed to continue, it would have cost more than $100 billion, of borrowed money, and been obsolete before it was completed ! The current scheme, will deliver almost the same service, for 27% of the cost. I'm not a huge fan of Malcolm Turnbull , (although we used to work together briefly), but he's doing his best in a very difficult portfolio. Mind you, the Liberals also have their share of absurd idealists, Eric Abetz unemployment schemes, are so poorly thought through, I can only shake my head in disbelief that such idiocy could originate from an otherwise sensible and experienced minister. Just as I shake my head in disbelief at the present bi-partisan support to allow even more shipping in the Great Barrier Reef Zone. It may prove more expensive in the short term, but building rail from the coal fields to non-Reef ports, is an essential infrastructure cost. I'm a very early convert to the potential for Solar energy in Australia, but until the problem of storage is solved, it will remain a fringe technology.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Hi Marco Polo I suppose what I should have said was that I have a strong preference for battery vehicles running on solar power over hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. I do realise that is not an option in every climate and usage scenario. Everyone here has slightly different views on what is important. Global warming Local air pollution Resource availability Energy independence Cost savings Driving convenience My view is that they are all important but I am not surprised that people weight them differently. Faulty solar panels are going to be a disaster for consumers, dreams of clean energy and battery powered vehicles. Consumers need to be vary aware of the importance of selecting quality equipment and ensure that the warranty is backed by someone who will still be around in 10-20 years to honour it. Without clean electric power, battery powered vehicles start to make a lot less sense to the things which matter to me.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          @ DarylMc The chaotic conditions prevailing in the Australian Solar industry at the moment, are very sad. Just this week another of Australia's largest Solar Sales and installation companies, collapsed into liquidation, with massive debt, and a long list of dissatisfied consumers. Australia used to have one of the oldest, most experienced, innovative, well conducted and high quality local Solar manufacturing and installation industries. This was before the Federal Labour-Green Alliance decided to apply an ill-conceived, badly thought through set of policies, that saw the local industry destroyed and vast sums of public money wasted on either solar scams, or inferior imported solar products sold and installed by fly-by-night, opportunists. Unlike you, I'm neither against nor an advocate of , HFCV technology. However, I can see why its three main stakeholders find it attractive. Given the power and resources of those stakeholders, and the enormous economic and environmental benefits that can be realised very quickly, it would be foolish to dismiss the potential of HFCV technology. Those who just scream "heresy" !, because it's not their preferred option, are not really helpful in advancing understanding of the wider issues. That's why Ii welcome the contributions from LTAW, Dave Mart and others interested in the potential of this technology,
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Hi Marco Polo If you are talking about the previous government, the home insulation scheme and solar PV scheme springs to mind. Poorly conceived is spot on. I bought insulation for a house around the time the government was running that scheme. The price of insulation batts doubled while that was active. Shortages of supply and profiteering was rife. Many house fires and a number of deaths occurred due to unskilled workers and a general free for all as people rushed to get hold of the money on offer. Foil insulation was the worst idea ever but somehow it was approved for use in the scheme. A number of people were electrocuted due to it.. The government eventually realised what a bad idea it was to have a conductive layer across ceiling spaces stapled around electrical wires and then ended up paying to have it removed. As an electrician I am often in a ceiling space and the fallout from this is ongoing. Ceiling spaces were never the safest places to work but foil insulation makes them lethal. Not all foil insulation has been removed from every home and now governments are running massive ad campaigns to explain the risks of entering ceiling spaces. Houses were also filled with loose cellulose (paper) insulation and I've come across many which were a fire hazard due to lack of proper installation around halogen downlights. I wasn't involved at the time but I imagine the solar scheme also put an extraordinary demand on the available skilled labour and supply networks as well. Solar feed in rates vary from ridiculously high to ridiculously low and this has been managed very poorly. The social inequity of the various schemes while not peculiar to this country are quite disgusting. That doesn't mean I don't like solar power. I think it is fantastic for our climate. Because I want EV's to succeed I'm actually thankful that the government has kept out of it so far. Thus ends my rant about the previous government. I did like their National Broadband Network plan. But an undelivered promise from the ALP is about as much good as an undelivered promise from the current government. If you bump into Malcolm Turnbull please pass that on:)
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marco Polo
        "For an archipelago nation like Japan, the cost of rolling out H2 refuelling infrastructure is relatively easy, and economically feasible." And rolling out an EV charging infrastructure is . . . . already done. They have an extensive Chademo DC-fast charging network and every home has electricity. I'm guessing that Japan thinks they are going 'leapfrog' EVs . . . but I still don't see limited advantages of FCVs being worth the economic costs.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          @ Spec "but I still don't see limited advantages of FCVs being worth the economic costs." Well, that's probably why you're not Prime Minister of Japan, and Shinzo Abe is !
      goodoldgorr
      • 1 Year Ago
      i found this article about the Toyota fuelcell http://seekingalpha.com/article/2359055-toyota-is-picking-fuel-cell-vehicles-over-evs-a-smart-move?ifp=0
      korblalak
      • 1 Year Ago
      Very disappointed with Toyota. I know they know better, but I guess greed overrules everything.
        DaveMart
        • 1 Year Ago
        @korblalak
        Since battery only folk think that it is obvious that it will cost incredible amounts to build both the infrastructure and the vehicles, and vast sums will be lost, greed would seem a rather peculiar attribution of motivation. Stick to big oil conspiracy theories, with Toyota having cunningly hidden that they are in the pocket of big oil by producing the Prius!
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          I suggest we make hydrogen from coal, NG and even oil. After all, the oil corps are good at figuring out green alternatives later, just like they did with oil use for the last 100 years. No, wait, uh... What?
          korblalak
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          It is all about who comes on top. They [special interest] don't care if more taxpayer money has to be spent as long as they can turn a profit. It is the same issue with telecoms and financial institutions.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          @ EVSUPERHERO Which employee, of which corporation, invented the Lithium battery ? Ironically, it was an employee of Exxon !
      JakeY
      • 1 Year Ago
      I guess he would be similarly impressed with the acceleration of a Prius (given they are roughly the same). And the whole "there is no exhaust at all, only water" and response about how that means it "is very friendly to the environment" made me cringe. I would similarly cringe if they did a "look, no tailpipe" thing to EVs (I don't think anyone does that anymore, or I hope not).
      jimmy_james44
      • 1 Year Ago
      Japan is a leader in advanced solar cell production. This is economic suicide. Just like the US coal industry going bankrupt, pick a loser technology, you're still not going turn around the roll to Solar. It make too much economic sense for business, where as hydrogen makes none, unless you're main goal is to try to protect a monopoly. What ever industry is behind this would do far better developing solar solutions now, to get that marketshare vs. going bankrupt like US coal.
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