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Next Toyota Mirai here in five years

Toyota Australia predicts speedy adoption of hydrogen fuel-cell technology

1 Dec 2019

TOYOTA Australia is aiming to offer its next-generation Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in Australia within the next five years, with an anticipated upswing in popularity for the burgeoning technology.


Speaking to GoAuto last week at the launch of the all-new Corolla sedan and updated C-HR small SUV, Toyota Australia vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley said the gradual adoption of battery-electric hybrid vehicles will not be replicated by FCEVs, which will rise in popularity far more quickly.


“I’ve often believed that FCEV vehicles will accelerate very quickly interms of introduction,” he said.


“It won’t take the 20 years that hybrid has taken to get adoption; I think that will accelerate quickly.”


In anticipation of a surge in popularity for FCEVs, Mr Hanley said Toyota Australia would look at bringing the second-generation Mirai sedan – previewed in near-production concept form at the recent Tokyo motor show – within the next five years.


“Somewhere between now and I reckon the next five years it would be credible for us to have the second-generation Mirai,” he said. “So it’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of when.”


The main deterrent to the mass adoption of FCEVs is refuelling infrastructure, with publicly available charging stations barely existent in Australia.


Mr Hanley told GoAuto that Toyota Australia is looking at installing a hydrogen refuelling station at its Centre of Excellence in the Melbourne suburb of Altona in the fourth quarter of next year, joining Hyundai which has its own refuelling station at its Macquarie Park headquarters in Sydney to help propel its Nexo SUV.


While not yet available for mass-market sale, 20 examples of the Nexo have been purchased by the ACT government as part of its Hornsdale Wind Farm project, which has been partially responsible for the announcement that the first public hydrogen refuelling station will open in the nation’s capital in December.


Mr Hanley said that he expected the infrastructure for FCEVs to accelerate quickly over the coming years.


“Already we’re starting to see some inroads with energy companies, government, manufacturers working together, I think this will accelerate over the next decade,” he said.


The federal government recently released its National Hydrogen Strategy report, which outlines plans for the introduction of FCEV cars into Australia, as well as the government’s plans to turn the country into a major producer and exporter of hydrogen.


In the report, the government claims it will begin rolling out refuelling infrastructure first on major transport corridors to support long-distance travel, with preliminary work to map the necessary locations already underway.


It also says that refuelling stations should be introduced in step with vehicle development and introduction, to ensure any refuelling stations are commercially viable.


While concrete details of the new-generation Mirai are still thin on the ground, Toyota has confirmed it is chasing a 30 per cent improvement in driving range over the current version, which would allow around 650km of driving per refuel.


Other key specifications have also not been disclosed, but expect the new model to improve on the current version’s output of 114kW/335Nm.


Toyota has overhauled the new Mirai’s styling, eschewing the angular, futuristic design of the first generation for a more smooth-flowing overall look that incorporates long, slim headlights, 20-inch alloys and a one-piece grille.

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