At the end of December, the US federal government let the $8,000 tax credit for hydrogen-powered vehicles expire. Despite this little wrinkle, Toyota is still promoting the upcoming 2016 Mirai fuel cell vehicle as a car that will cost under $50,000. In some cases a lot less, since it may also qualify for a $5,000 incentive in California. The car has a $57,500 MSRP, but Nihar Patel, vice president of North American Business Strategy for Toyota Motor Sales, spoke at the 2015 Washington Auto Show last week, and said that the Mirai could cost $44,500 in California. You can see this in the video at around minute four.

Toyota knows that the federal incentives have expired, since the real news from the show was Patel's public request to the federal government that the $8,000 tax credit be extended. "We think that the federal credit expiration last year puts [hydrogen] customers in a fairly disadvantageous postion," he said. Plug-in vehicle buyers can still get up to $7,500 tax credit and, "we believe that this inequity needs to be fixed," he said. You can see this in the video at minute 10:20. Toyota said including both the after-incentives price and the call to reinstate those incentives was intentional since it shows a discrepancy between hydrogen and plug-in vehicles in the eyes of the feds.

We asked Toyota's director of Energy and Environmental Research, Technical and Regulatory Affairs, Robert Wimmer, for more details on Toyota's request. "[The Mirai] being a ZEV and battery electrics also being ZEVs, we just want to make the playing field as level as possible," he said, adding that any extension would last "for the run of the vehicle," which would be three years. He admitted that the extension might only be for one or two years, if it happens at all. (A Toyota spokesperson clarified to AutoblogGreen that the Mirai program will not end after three years.)

And that's the problem. "The tax process is difficult to predict," he said. "The two challenges we have now are that both houses of Congress are Republican and also that there has been talk for a while about comprehensive tax reform. If that moves forward, then extenders would probably be put on the back burner as comprehensive tax reform is discussed." Wimmer would not reveal any details about how Toyota is pressuring the government to act, only saying that Toyota's has people lobbying up on Capitol Hill. Toyota would also like some of the Northeast States that have adopted the California regulations to also offer some state incentives.

TRANSLOGIC 164: Toyota Mirai, Volkswagen Passat HyMotion, Audi A7 H-Tron

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