Future cars: Toyota doubles down, Dyson gives up

The 2021 Toyota Mirai gets an 8-inch digital combination meter as standard and it's available with a digital rearview mirror

The 2021 Toyota Mirai gets an 8-inch digital combination meter as standard and it's available with a digital rearview mirror

Classic rear-drive proportions are very much on display, with a long bonnet, a pushed-forward front axle centreline, 20-inch wheels and a short rear deck, while its near 5.0-metre overall length (4975mm to be precise) gives the new Mirai an imposing presence.

In the on-going tussle between battery-powered and combustion engine vehicles, Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell technology seems to combine the best of both worlds - fossil-free EV propulsion paired with the range and refueling time of a traditional ICE-powered auto.

The Mirai was launched in 2014 as Toyota's first fuel-cell vehicle. Toyota now only sells the Mirai in a handful of dealerships in the U.S., because there are only a relatively small number of locations where hydrogen fuel is actually available.

Tanaka said the latest Mirai would cost less to make than its predecessor, because of a shift to mass production. That's because it is based on Toyota's new premium rear-wheel-drive platform, which allows for a body that is lower, longer, and wider.

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The new auto also has a 30% improvement in driving range over the previous iteration's approximately 700 kilometers, according to the company.

Up until now, Toyota's technology flagship has packed some sexy sustainability credentials, with fully baked fuel-cell tech (asterisks to the infrastructure, which isn't yet fully baked). Though price doesn't seem to be a concern, as the company says that more than 95% of Mirais are leased.

Rival automakers such as General Motors Co.in the USA and BMW AG in Europe have invested in fuel-cell technology but are prioritizing EVs in their current and future zero-emission products. This electricity then powers an electric motor, which in the Mirai's case sits on the rear axle, providing drive.

The vehicle is said to have a new fuel cell system with redesigned fuel cell stack. It's not one or the other.

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"We wanted something that's fun to drive".

As a rival to similarly-sized electric sedans like the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan, the 2020 Toyota Mirai claims to have the crucial advantage of faster refuelling times, with the time needed to fill its hydrogen tanks being on the order of minutes, versus the several hours needed for big-battery EVs.

Although it couldn't offer confirmation of Mirai availability for Australia, Toyota said "it's certainly a product we're putting our hands up for should it be made available for our market".

"Unfortunately, despite years of education efforts, hydrogen cars are still a mystery to most people", said Jackie Birdsall, a senior engineer at Toyota's R&D center in Gardena, Calif.

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