An energy expert's love-hate affair with Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell Mirai

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Media Outlet: Fortune

This year, I expect that faith will bear fruit. Toyota’s Mirai is the world’s first real attempt at a consumer hydrogen car. It costs $57,500, puts out 153 horsepower and has a zero to sixty of 9 seconds. With only four seats and a teardrop shape, the Mirai looks like a cross between a Toyota Prius and a Chevy Volt. It’s not a beaut. Indeed, unless you are an engineer, technophile, or middle- to later-aged computer scientist you are not likely to be impressed. Even more challenging than the aesthetics are the logistics. On a full tank, the car gets only 150 miles of range if filled at a 350 bar fueling station and 300 miles if filled at a higher pressure 700 bar fueling station. Toyota gassed up the car I drove at a SunHydro filling station in Wallingford, Connecticut – which is almost 6-hours from Washington, DC and farther away than the vehicle’s actual range would permit. So it had to be trucked down. In fact, currently there are no public hydrogen refueling stations on the Eastern seaboard. Even in California where hydrogen refueling is comparatively thick on the ground there are only nine hydrogen fueling stations across the state, with another 17 under development.

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Levi Tillemann was a New America fellow, and the author of The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future.