Toyota Mirai could get Prius-like 'family' of models

  • Image Credit: Toyota
Having invested so much time and energy in its Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, it is no surprise that Toyota wants to put that powertrain under more bodystyles. At least, that's what the Mirai's chief engineer told Autocar. Yoshikazu Tanaka said he would welcome a range of vehicles employing the alternative fuel that's still trying to work its way into prime time.

Right now, though, the reality of that is many years away - it took the Prius 15 years to add two more bodystyles to the nameplate, and some analysts believe the Mirai right now is where the Prius was in 1997. Production limitations are another obstacle; earlier this year Toyota said it would increase Mirai production to 3,000 units in 2017 due to unexpectedly high demand, a few months later it said that it physically cannot produce more than 3,000 cars per year because making the fuel cell stacks is so time consuming. You can see how the H2 cars get put together in these video. Tanaka told Automotive News in April that breaching 3,000 units, "would require a breakthrough in the way they are manufactured."

Progress is still advancing in terms of the other hydrogen ancillaries, a fuel cell architecture that weighs nearly half as much as it did in 2008 produces 25 percent more horsepower. Once the infrastructure comes along to make the most of the powertrain advances, which some say could be ten to 20 years, the Mirai might make a good candidate for platform expansion.

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