What It Was Like Living With Hydrogen for a Year: Toyota Mirai FCEV Yearlong Review Verdict

A (second) year on the Hydrogen Highway with Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell car shows there are still bumps in the road.

A second year on the hydrogen highway with toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell car shows there are still bumps in the road with so many battery electric vehicles bevs hitting the market we wanted to check in with the newest hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles fcfs cars that use a hydrogen fuel stack instead of a battery to produce electricity have the cars and the

Infrastructure improved in the five years since we last ran a long-term fcf we arranged to spend a year with the freshly redesigned 2021 toyota mirai to find out 2021 toyota mirai and f without the tether i was chosen as the mirage custodian because i fit toyota’s customer profile someone who wants an ad but can’t install a charger at home i live in a listed landmark

Apartment complex toyota pitches the mirai as an electric car that has fueled rather than charged just like a gasoline car and nearly as quickly i chose a mirai xle in supersonic red sadly the bright hydro blue paint is only available on the limited and started driving armor i clocked up just 13 882 miles during its year with us why so few first the nation’s hydrogen

Infrastructure is still very small the vast majority 53 of america’s 54 hydrogen stations are in california the 54th is in hawaii and most are clustered around california’s most populous regions with few stations between or beyond the mirai is more of a homebody than a long-distance traveler though i did take it on a road trip second i was still working from home

And third given the unreliability of the fueling network more on which shortly a lot of staffers were understandably reluctant to trust their transportation prospects to hydrogen so most of the year it was just me and my mirai which suited me just fine i love the car is the mariah toyota or a lexus those who did drive the car were almost universal in their praise

Primarily for the mirage hush and refined demeanor which was my favorite aspect as well the mirai is based on the same platform as the lexus ls and it feels more like a lexus than a toyota and having spent much time with automobile’s long-term ls 500 i would know believe it or not this is an area where a lot of evs get it wrong with no engine providing a background

Thrum road and wind noise can seem disproportionately loud in the electric car matso in the mirai one surprising area where the mirai drew complaints was interior space it’s a big car as long as a toyota avalon and an inch wider but the occupants share the interior with the hydrogen fuel tanks the largest of which lives under the broad center console with the next

Biggest under-the-rear seat at five foot six i never found the murad particularly cramped but my six-foot friends found it awkward to get in and out of given the car’s exterior size they were surprised at how tight the interior felt range less than toyota promises for me the biggest issue is range toyota promises 402 miles for the mirai xle 357 for the nicer mirai

Limited which weighs more and has a different will slash tire combo still even with moderate speeds my little old lady driving habits are one reason i was picked for this assignment i averaged 331 miles of range per tank a figure we arrived at by adding the mileage traveled prior to each fill up to the indicated range remaining even allowing for an alleged 20-mile

Reserve when the range hit zero as i was told by other mirai drivers i never did work up the nerve to run the car to empty that’s still far below 402 that’s not entirely the mirai’s fault because the hydrogen fuel stations we use didn’t always deliver a full tank since hydrogen is a gas the fuel level is determined by pressure you can’t top off as you can with

Liquid fuel which drag down the average still in the 72 times we fueled up the mirai during our year-long loan there were only three occasions when we left the station with a trip computer showing 350 miles of range or better with the best everfill of 359. using our aforementioned formula to calculate actual range our best tank yielded 374 miles efficiency was

The issue here hydrogen fuel cell vehicles like evs are rated by the epa and mpge an acronym for miles per gallon equivalent equating the energy content with that of a gallon of gasoline the mirai is rated at 76-71 74 of a mile per gallon e-city highway combined but even with my relaxed driving style our mirai averaged just 67.8 miles per gallon e with the best

Ever tank of 77 miles per gallon e when other staffers drove the car they averaged mid 50s to mid 60s i found that in situations where a gasoline car would use more fuel so such as steep hills or fast curvy road driving the mirai used a lot more fuel still the new car proved more efficient than our first gen mirai which averaged 62.0 miles per gallon e with us a

Notable improvement considering the new mariah is longer wider heavier and quicker than the old one hydrogen infrastructure still needs work of course all this would be less of an issue if the hydrogen fueling infrastructure was a little more developed there were 40-something stations in the country when we took delivery of the 2021 mirai which increased to 54

By the end of our loan our loan coincided with a gaggle of news stations being opened by a company called true zero something we took as a promising sign it wasn’t i’ve documented the issues we faced in earlier updates this one chronicles the low point which i refer to as the hydrogen fuel apocalypse suffice it to say that station reliability was the biggest pain

Point in our time with mri for the first few months we found that if one station went down cars would flock to nearby stations and they in turn would run out of fuel or drop from a strain of constant use we saw days when half of the stations in california and thus the country were out of commission as mentioned earlier even working stations didn’t always give us

A full tank one-third of our fueling stops failed to give us a full tank sometimes we’d try a second and often a third time to fill the car other times we simply left with only 7 8 ths of a tank hydrogen is dispensed at ridiculously cold temperatures and the fueling hose would sometimes freeze to the car’s filler nozzle the cure being to wait a couple of minutes

And then give it a healthy yank this is a slight improvement over our first mirai where it wasn’t the nozzle that froze it was our fingers but things are getting better we asked true zero what was going on and its spokesperson blamed the timing just as the company was opening new stations and upgrading others toyota introduced the new mirai while hyundai started

Selling its own hydrogen-powered car the nexo this caused an increase in demand for fuel that the company just wasn’t expecting true zero was quick to remind us that hydrogen fueling is still a technology under development and that getting the universe’s smallest molecule to move where you want it is nowhere near as simple as pumping gasoline over our year with

Mri we saw significant improvements in both station reliability and capacity true zero introduced a new nozzle less susceptible to freezing and triple the capacity of many of its stations for the last three months of our loan i rarely encountered stations that were out of fuel when i first got the mirai i’d start looking for fuel when the range dropped to 100

To 150 miles by the end of the year i felt comfortable running down to 50 miles or fewer before fueling up the hydrogen routine what about the small number of fuel stations that wasn’t as much of a detriment for me as i expected i found plenty of stations on the routes i normally traveled three on the way to or near the office two near my favorite photography

Store one near the model train club where i spend most saturdays and one near the ranch where my wife boards her horse when i got the mirai the closest station was a 10 minute drive from home halfway through our loan another station opened up just a couple miles away and near my favorite grocery store except for times when nearby stations were broken i rarely had

To wait in line i settled into a routine when the range hit 100 miles or so i’d start thinking about when my plans for the next couple of days would intersect with a fuel station this usually worked just fine but i did set a mileage threshold below which it was time to implement plan b a shell stationed 30 miles away which was fed by a pipeline and never ran out

Of hydrogen there were probably five occasions when all the local stations were on the fritz and i had to drive to that shell and one occasion when my range was too low to get there i had to park the mirai and drive something else until the local stations were back online stable fuel prices not that we had to pay them that said there was one upside to fueling

Although hydrogen prices varied wildly they were stable hydrogen is dispensed by the kilogram and it takes 5.5 kilograms to fill the 2021 mirage tank the stations we visited charged anywhere from 13.14 to 18.69 per kilogram but those prices never seem to change not even when gasoline prices skyrocketed in 2022 filling up from a quarter tank generally cost between

Forty five dollars and fifty dollars over the year we put 2996.37 worth of hydrogen into the mirai that averages out to about 21.7 cents per mile less than the 25.8 cents per mile of our 2016 mirai part of that comes down to location my local stations were cheaper than those farther south where buyers guide editor kelly lynn lived with the first gen mirai i paid

An average of 14.60 per kilogram but even if i had fueled exclusively at the pipeline connected station at dollar 15.99 kg my average would have been 23.8 cents per mile still cheaper than the 16. how do the costs compare to a gasoline car our 2020 hyundai sonata for example used 2746.91 worth of gasoline in its 17 000 miles with us we got that car before gas

Prices spiked paying an average of 3.89 per gallon so fueling the sonata costa 16.1 center per mile but the mirai still cost us less because we didn’t actually pay for any of that hydrogen out of our own pocket just like in 2016 every new mirai comes with a fifteen thousand dollars prepaid fuel car that works at all hydrogen stations given our driving patterns it’d

Be five years before toyota stop paying for fuel and restarted the card is good for six years if you buy a mirai but only three if you lease i’ve read some articles predicting that hydrogen costs could drop considerably in the next five years still for now that’s just speculation mirai service simple to do hard to find what about maintenance only a handful of

Toyota dealerships sell and service fc apps and finding a list is nearly impossible one toyota dealership listed the mariah on its service page and actually let us book an appointment then called us the day before to tell us they didn’t actually service mirage i prefer to try different dealerships but i wound up at santa monica toyota for the mirage 5000 and 10 000

Mile services which consists primarily of inspections and tire rotation as they were with our 2016 mirai costs were covered under toyota’s three-year complimentary service plan our only out-of-pocket cost was a new driver’s side wiper blade at 14.99 we asked for two but the dealership didn’t have the right side blade in stock they promised a call when it arrived

But never did incidentally back when we had the 2016 mirai the service department used to ask us about our fueling experiences that didn’t happen with our 2021 i’m guessing toyota does heard enough negative feedback that it knows not to ask conclusion toyota’s mirai is great but infrastructure still needs work so how does our latest trip on the hydrogen highway

Compare to our first no question the toyota mirai is greatly improved particularly in the areas of looks was that old mariah ugly duckling or what but also in terms of luxury and chassis dynamics everyone who drove our mariah greeted was a lovely car at least when it had full hydrogen tanks does the hydrogen-powered car have a future i personally think it does

Though perhaps not as a passenger car even with a mature fueling infrastructure hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would still face the cramped interior problem since those big tanks need to go somewhere the rapid refueling of a hydrogen car certainly beats the pants off state-of-the-art beth charging though i expect we’ll see rapid advances in battery technology that

Will change that equation where hydrogen may have a brighter future as heavy trucks think about the size of battery it would take to move an 80 000 pound truck a thousand miles and the extra battery capacity you’d need to carry the weight of the battery itself hydrogen tanks and a fuel cell stack for a truck are significantly smaller and lighter and such trucks

Can refuel almost as quickly as a diesel truck then again fuel cell tracking would require a nationwide network of fuel stations which would solve our biggest problem with the toyota mirai and that would make life with this very pleasant car infinitely more pleasant

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What It Was Like Living With Hydrogen for a Year: Toyota Mirai FCEV Yearlong Review Verdict By Follow Us