It’s here now, the dawn of a new era in the global automotive scene. Toyota Motor Corporation presented their all-new Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV), the Toyota Mirai, which will be officially launched in Japan come 15 December.
As one of the pioneering manufacturers championing alternative fuel, Toyota revealed that the Mirai – which means future in Japanese – will feature their new Toyota Fuel Cell System (TFCS) technology that combines both fuel cell technology and hybrid technology. It is said to be more energy efficient than traditional internal combustion engines.
According to Toyota, the Mirai manages an average cruising range of 650km with a hydrogen refueling time of three minutes – roughly the same time as refueling conventional fuel sources. The TFCS technology is comprised of Toyota FC Stack, FC Boost Converter and two highly pressurised hydrogen tanks.
Here’s how the components work:
Toyota FC Stack
This Fuel Cell Stack (also known as fuel cell unit) is where the magic happens. It generates electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, the latter of which is fed via air inlets, of course. This fuel cell unit generates a maximum output of 153 horsepower. The only emission this unit will produce is water vapour!
FC Boost Converter
This compact, high-capacity and high-efficient converter ups the powered generated by the FC Stack to 650 volts, which made it possible for Toyota to reduce the overall size of the electric motor and consequently reducing system and maintenance costs.
High-pressure Hydrogen Tanks
As described above, two tanks with storage volume totaling up to 122.4 litres – 60 litres front tank, 62.4 litres rear tank – store hydrogen at 700 bars. The tanks are made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic.
You can read the more detailed explanation of these units here.
Hydrogen in its purest form is extremely unstable and highly flammable, so the engineers at Toyota have sophisticated safety and preventive measures that will ensure the complete stoppage of hydrogen flow in the event of a leakage. The hydrogen tanks are placed outside of the cabin, making way for better dissipation, thus preventing the hydrogen from accumulating.
More on the safety front; the Mirai gets a pre-collision system, lane departure system, blind spot monitoring system and the drive-start control system that limits sudden jolts during acceleration or when shifting gears.
Another interesting feature of the Mirai is its large-capacity power supply system of about 60 kilowatt-hour. It is capable of producing a maximum output of 9 kW for use during power outages, which means it can power your house, provided that the wiring is compatible.
Now, you may think that the design is a tad too futuristic for its time, but it’s no form without function. The Mirai’s front face is designed to draw in air for the oxygen supply needed by the FC Stack.
Complementing the fascia are the super thin LED lights with built-in heat sinks. The signal indicators are separated from the headlights, and the front look is finished by vertically positioned LED daytime running lights. All this design translates to improved aerodynamics.
The underside of the car is fully covered and minimises turbulence. This promotes better air flow and improves fuel efficiency and to some extent, its handling. The Mirai comes with 17-inch lightweight aluminium wheels, and can be had in six exterior body colours which includes the two-tone Pure Blue Metallic.
On the inside, the Mirai gets a high-luminance silver finish throughout the cabin, whereas the driver and passenger seats are electrically powered with eight-way adjustments. A 4.2-inch TFT screen is housed in the instrument cluster.
The Toyota Mirai will go on sale in countries with proper refueling infrastractures. Toyota Motor Corporation aims to sell about 400 units of this four-seater, four-door FCV by the end of 2015. It’s on sale now for RM210k in Japan.