2018 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell: The Cost of Water
Do you spot the differences? Do you see now why this is such a controversial design? It literally brought out passionate reactions from a lot of renowned design professionals when we posted about this on our Facebook pages. Now, having an outstanding design that is being talked about is of course better than having a design that nobody talks about, so as in this case, you will get very vocal voices for and against. I tried to calm the fury a bit offering the consideration that the design sketch probably was lot different from the end result. Hence the above pictures. I have no idea if the sketch was made before, during or after the design was settled on, but at least the sketch looks a lot more dynamic and the proportions a lot more forgiven than what is seen in production.
Since one of the arguments for the design was that the layout underneath possibly warranted the design to be rather tall and narrow, I also uploaded some images we took at the LA Auto Show of the underpinnings for the Toyota Mirai, just to give you a look at what is hidden underneath.
I must add one personal experience to this discussion: I had parked the car at a busy hotel parking lot and after dark had to get to the car to pick someone up. I could only see the snout of the car sticking out, and it did look futuristic compared to all the other cars it was parked next to. It did stand out. Asice from that I can understand the controversy, since Toyota in this case did not play it safe, as for instance Tesla did with their design language. Toyota clearly wanted people to see that this was something else, and they succeeded. I associate the face with one of those tropical fish I saw in Nemo. It has this look in it’s darkened out chin that enhances the thick lips high up. I see what was intended with the sketch, but I also think that someone with experience within the Toyota Design organization should have stepped in and made this look more like the sketch by raising the lower lines and using some darker colors to hide the sheer mass of the side, making a bit more elegant and sleek.
For me that was not the main issue with the car though. I was really keen on finding out how this was to drive, how the infrastructure of the Hydrogen pumps is working practically, and what it is as a prce per mile comparison. I did wait to write this article until I had given Toyota PR a good chance to answer my specific questions, but I never received any response from them at all, even after sending the message 3 separate times. So clearly they are not particularly fuzzed with the cost of this being out of reach for anyone not very well off. I ended up with a cost per mile of $0.30!!! That is just unrealistic. If that is the case, just forget this fuel cell technology as a reasonable option completely. If Toyota and the State of California really wanted to promote driving clean, they should do something about the price of the Hydrogen. I could fuel up within 10 minutes, so that was not too bad, but to be charged $80 for a full load that would only bring me 237 miles was just not reasonable. That is pathetic. The people who can afford this will NEVER get into such a wimpy car at all, and the ones Toyota would want in it can not afford it. Nice product and marketing strategy that is.
Rumor had it that Toyota was giving incentives like paying for the fuel throughout the life of the lease, but as said, that was rumor and Toyota never replied to my questions about that, so I can only go on my own experience.
Clean Tech only works if you can get the people enthusiastic about it, which you do NOT do by making a design that is so violently hated by the majority, nor do you do that by making the cost per mile so high that only a select few can afford it. Whom ever thought that was a good idea should be fired.