Hydrogen power: Toyota takes on Tesla with alternative fuel

The 2021 Toyota Mirai's design is inspired by the coupe

The 2021 Toyota Mirai's design is inspired by the coupe

Inside, the Mirai concept offers what looks to be a production-ready design, with EV-appropriate copper accents against a black trim (with it's still a family auto grey headliner above).

The change in layout also allows Toyota to fit larger hydrogen tanks, and along with development of the fuel-cell system this gives the new Mirai a 30% improvement in range over the original model.

The Mirai was launched in 2014 as Toyota's first fuel-cell auto.

"We wanted something that's fun to drive". It's longer and wider than the outgoing Mirai, but lower. The 2021 Mirai is now rear-wheel drive rather than front-wheel drive, as well as being more rigid.

Toyota plans to put the new Mirai on the market at the end of next year. It features a 12.3in central touchscreen and a digital instrument display, with numerous controls moved to the centre of the dashboard.

The new, display-heavy interior is suitably plush considering its status within the Toyota range, but retains a very pleasing aesthetic that is distinctively Japanese.

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"I want customers to say 'I chose the Mirai because I simply wanted this vehicle, and it just happens to be an FCEV.' We will continue our development work focusing on that feeling, and we hope that with the new Mirai we will be a leader in helping to realize a hydrogen energy society", Yoshikazu Tanaka, Chief Engineer of the Mirai, said in a statement. That suggests around 405 miles, versus the current 312 miles the EPA rates the existing Mirai as good for.

Certainly, there are areas where FCEVs have advantages over all-electric cars along with gas-electric hybrids. Toyota isn't revealing any specific figures yet, but says the second-gen Mirai should offer more performance and a more dynamic feel from behind the wheel. A roughly five-minute refueling time is comparable to traditional internal-combustion vehicles, and much faster than a BEV would take to charge. The next Mirai will be sold in more states as Toyota adds more fuel stations in the Northeast and other parts of the country. The only emission it creates from the tailpipe is water.

The first Mirai - which means "future" in Japanese - debuted in late 2014, but availability in the USA has been limited to California and Hawaii. At least if the 2021 Mirai drives as well as it looks, that might be something that more people want to see changed. The concept also hints at a bigger overall size, with the length coming in at 195.8 inches, or about three inches more than the current Mirai.

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