Game Changer

Toyota Mirai Takes Pole Position

Toyota Mirai AFP
The Toyota Mirai brings fuel-cell technology to the mass market.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Toyota is ready to launch the world’s first mass-produced fuel-cell car, posing a threat to German rivals Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen when it comes to non-combustion powered cars.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Engines powered by hydrogen fuel cells emit no polluting gases, but can only be considered to have a zero-footprint if the hydrogen is produced from renewable sources.
    • Platinum, one of the world’s most expensive metals, is the catalyst in these fuel cells.
    • One of the hurdles for would-be manufacturers of hydrogen fuel-cell cars is the lack of fueling stations.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

Katsuhiko Hirose’s cheerful eyes are sparkling. The 59-year-old is Toyota’s chief fuel-cell developer. He is now being asked why the world’s largest automobile maker does not have a single electric vehicle with a battery in its lineup.

“With battery cars, you are always dependent on cables,” Mr. Hirose, a physicist, said at a presentation in Hamburg. Ranges are too small, and there are no significant breakthroughs in battery technology in sight that would make electric cars suitable for everyday use.

This is why, when it comes to non-polluting engines, Toyota decided to focus on the Mirai (the Japanese word for “future”), a four-seat sedan with a fuel cell under its hood. It uses hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity to run its electric engine, and nothing but heat and water vapor come out of the exhaust.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.