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Toyota to push fuel cell tech Down Under

Mirai, Mirai: The Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle will be on show at the World Hydrogen Technologies Convention in Sydney in early October.

Hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai on its way to Australia for tech convention

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Toyota logo7 Sep 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

TOYOTA Australia has done an about-face on its previous decision to pass on hydrogen-powered cars, announcing that it will bring an example of the Mirai fuel cell vehicle to Sydney next month as part of a technology expo.

The sole Mirai will take centre stage at the Toyota-sponsored World Hydrogen Technologies Convention in Sydney in early October, giving the public and government representatives a chance to experience the high-tech machine.

The Mirai is already on sale in Japan, and it will soon launch in parts of North America and Europe. Australia will be one of the first countries outside those regions to see the Camry-sized sedan up close.

When the Mirai was revealed in November last year, Toyota Australia product public relations manager Steve Coughlan told GoAuto that a lack of infrastructure meant the car was unlikely to make it here.

“I can confirm … that we currently have no plans to sell fuel cell vehicles in Australia,” he said at the time.

“If sufficient local demand for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles develops in the future, this is something we can certainly explore further.

“However, in this instance Australia also needs to have the relevant infrastructure in place before these vehicles can be sold commercially.” It appears that the Japanese giant’s local arm is now actively courting the government for its support by bringing the car to Australia.

Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner said the company was “incredibly excited” to bring the Mirai to Australia, and highlighted Toyota’s history in environmentally friendly automotive technology.

“Toyota pioneered the mass production of hybrid technology. and we truly believe fuel cell vehicles will play a key role in Toyota’s global future,” he said.

Mr Buttner said while Australian buyers are interested in hydrogen technology, it would take support from government and industry to build infrastructure and make fuel-cell vehicles viable here.

“It’s clear that Australians are searching for more eco-friendly options. Fuel cell vehicles emit only water and can offer the same convenience of petrol-powered cars.

“However, before we can introduce these vehicles to Australia, we need to have relevant infrastructure such as refueling stations, which will take time.

“That is why we need to work with the industry and government to discuss the refueling infrastructure required in Australia to support fuel cell vehicles.” It is believed the Mirai will go on a road show of sorts to Canberra and Melbourne, where “government representatives and other key stakeholders” will be able to inspect the car more closely.

The Mirai’s local debut also marks the first time a right-hand drive hydrogen fuel cell vehicle has been shown in Australia.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia brought in a left-hand drive zero-emissions ix35 Fuel Cell model late last year to highlight the technology, with the hope of eventually being able to hold commercial trials, and ultimately, sell the car Down Under. Toyota said in a release that it has been developing fuel-cell technology “in- house for more than 20 years”, and, along with petrol-electric hybrid tech of which it is a global leader, believes hydrogen to be the way of the future.

The Mirai uses the Toyota Fuel Cell System (TFCS), which uses a combination of fuel cell and hybrid technology, resulting in a cruising range of about 550km and a refueling time of approximately three minutes, all while emitting only water vapour.

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