PRESIDENT AND HIS HYDROGEN CAR: Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota, with the Mirai - a car the automaker believes will really change the auto world. Image: Toyota
TOKYO, Japan - Akio Toyoda has seen the future and it’s called Mirai. That’s the name of Toyota’s new fuel-cell car which the company’s president announced in a video the day before the car’s official launch.
Mirai, which means 'future' in Japanese, is said by the automaker to be a turning point for the automotive industry with the promise "of a world that is safer, greener and easier for everyone".
In Akio Toyoda’s words: “This is a car that lets you have it all with no compromises.”
'A TURNING POINT'
Toyota says the car has the cruising range of a conventional saloon, can be refuelled in less than five minutes, and emits only water vapour.
The four-door will launch in Japan with the price-tag reading $57 500 - about R637 000 and a heavy price for a modest, if rather sexy, family car. Toyota is hoping for 400 sales in 2015 followed by American consumption of 3000 a year by 2017.
All that's needed now is an adequate number of hydrogen fuelling stations.
VIDEO: Watch the Miraj launch speech
GALLERY: Images of the new car
This is what Toyoda said in the video: "Today, we are at a turning point in automotive history where people will embrace a new, environmentally-friendly car that is a pleasure to drive. A turning point where a four-door sedan can travel 500km on a single tank of hydrogen, can be refuelled in under five minutes and emit only water vapour.
"A turning point that represents many years and countless hours of work by our team to create a car that redefines the industry. All of us at Toyota believe in a future that will be safer, greener and easier for everyone.
"We imagined a world filled with vehicles that would diminish our dependence on oil and reduce harm to the environment. It was a bold, but inspiring, goal - today it is a reality."
MILLIONS OF TEST MILES
He explained that the fuel cell in the car could create enough electricity to power a house for a week, though the fuel could be made from anything - "even garbage".
He added that he did some test driving and found that it was not only emissions free but also its low centre of gravity allowed "very dynamic handling".
"After surviving millions of miles on the test track and 10 years of testing on public roads in freezing cold and scorching heat… after passing extensive crash tests… and after working with local governments and researchers around the world to help make sure it is easy and convenient to refuel… We are ready to deliver."
For Toyota, he said, the Mirai was "not just another car". He saw it as an opportunity to make a real difference.
As South Africa does not have a hydrogen fuelling system it will be highly unlikely that the cars will reach the bottom of Africa.