Toyota Reveals Newly Redesigned Hydrogen Sedan to Tackle Tesla

Daniel Fowler
October 12, 2019

Toyota began fuel cell development in Japan in the early 1990s and has developed a series of fuel cell vehicles, subjecting them to more than 1,600,000 km (1,000,000 miles) of road testing.

Japan's biggest carmaker, Toyota Motor Corp, has unveiled a redesigned hydrogen-power fuel cell vehicle in a bid to revive demand for technology that aims to compete with the rise of California-based Tesla Inc.

The revamped four-door sports sedan, to be unveiled at the Tokyo auto show that will open October 24, will be launched in Japan, North America and Europe. According to Toyota, the TNGA base should improve body stiffness and lower the centre of gravity, which in conjunction with the rear-wheel-drive results in agile and direct handling.

The current version has a driving range of 650 kilometers and a price of 7.4 million yen ($69,000) in Japan.

The automaker aims to extend the driving range of the new model by about 30 percent by completely redesigning the fuel-cell system of the current Mirai model, released in 2014.

"I want customers to say, 'I chose the Mirai not because it's an FCEV, but because I really wanted this vehicle, and it just happened to be an FCEV, '" said Yoshikazu Tanaka, the chief engineer for the outgoing and upcoming versions of the Mirai. Toyota, though, has some good news, as it states that hydrogen stations are set to open up in the Northeast and "other areas".

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Toyota has yet to reveal details about the new powertrain apart from it still being a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle.

Inside, we get more hints of the Mirai's LS roots with the most obvious hints being the massive 12.3-inch widescreen display and digital instrument cluster and high level of appointment. The design is more aerodynamic, yet also emotionally evocative without being aggressive; zero-emissions doesn't have to mean boring. More hydrogen stations are needed to promote the wider use of fuel-cell vehicles. Currently, they only feature in California and Hawaii.

Up until now, Toyota's technology flagship has packed some sexy sustainability credentials, with fully baked fuel-cell tech (asterisks to the infrastructure, which isn't yet fully baked). A fuel cell system combines the stored hydrogen with oxygen from the air, and the result is (1) electric current, (2) heat, and (3) water.

Now in its second generation, the Japanese automaker looks to take the vehicle upmarket, shifting its image from the average Joe's Prius to the more luxurious Lexus GS.

We'll update this article when we know more. For more information about Toyota, visit ToyotaNewsroom.com.

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