Electric vehicles (EVs) are certainly all the rage these days. However, these are not the only clean energy vehicles on the market. Some automakers are investing in hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in the hope that consumers will be lured by the promise of clean-energy vehicles with faster refueling times and longer ranges. However, FCEVs face many of the same challenges that EVs faced in the beginning and continue to face. So one wonders what FCEVs currently available on the market like the Toyota Mirai Limited really accomplish from a sustainability standpoint. Also, is something like the 2022 Toyota Mirai Limited worth its premium price?
The market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
While hydrogen fuel cell vehicles promise greater efficiency and range than electric vehicles, they also face the challenge of limited refueling infrastructure. A review of hydrogen and fuel cell data across the country provided by Hydrogen Fuel Cell Nexus shows that only a few states have sufficient supply infrastructure to support hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
In fact, since hydrogen and fuel cell suppliers are mostly located in major cities and coastal states, the Toyota Mirai is only sold in California. Given California’s air pollution issues and emissions standards, there is greater FCEV infrastructure and greater consumer awareness and interest in hydrogen vehicles (and electric vehicles as well).
As one of the wealthiest states in the country, California also has many high-income enclaves. These affluent neighborhoods and counties make the state an attractive market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicle manufacturers. Emission-free or non-emitting, hydrogen fuel cell technology is expensive and dramatically inflates the price of FCEVs.
What’s included with the Toyota Mirai Limited?
Toyota is known for making quality cars, so the Mirai is worth a look based on brand strength alone. However, with a starting MSRP of $49,500 for the base XLE trim and a whopping $66,000 for the Limited trim, according to Toyota, budget-conscious buyers may think twice.
Price notwithstanding, there’s a lot to love about the Toyota Mirai, starting with its sleek, curvaceous exterior. Car and Driver reviewers note that the Mirai delivers a stable, refined and powerful ride, thanks to its 182hp electric motor and RWD platform.
While it takes 9.1 seconds to hit 60 mph, its relative slowness is offset by its impressive range of up to 402 miles. And according to Toyota, the Mirai XLE boasts a fuel economy rating of 76/71 MPGe city/highway, while the Limited version’s rating drops to 67/64 MPGe due to its added convenience features. However, both models sport impressive sets of numbers that can significantly reduce the cost of ownership of the Mirai.
A premium interior in the XLE and Limited helps begin to justify their high MSRP. However, the premium amenities really shine on the Limited – features like a sunroof, tri-zone climate control and heated and ventilated seats. A 12.3-inch touchscreen, 14-speaker JBL audio system, and built-in navigation don’t hurt either.
Is the Toyota Mirai a success or a failure?
The Toyota Mirai is a great vehicle from a design, performance, comfort and feature standpoint whether you choose the XLE or Limited trim level. Plus, not only does the Mirai offer significant range and a charging time of just 5 minutes, but Toyota also offers an incentive for first-time buyers or lessees that can lessen the sticker shock. Those who buy or lease a new Toyota Mirai XLE or Limited will receive up to $15,000 worth of free hydrogen.
However, despite attractive packaging, the Mirai may not be able to overcome justified consumer skepticism. The price is relatively high for a sedan. Also, for those who want an emissions-free vehicle, the Mirai lacks the cachet of the cheaper and much faster Tesla Model 3.
Perhaps the biggest downside is that it’s only sold in California, one of the few states with the infrastructure to support it. There is no commercially available home refueling system for hydrogen refueling, and if you read about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on Quora and elsewhere, you will learn just how much a configuration of DIY-FCEV refueling can be dangerous.
You won’t be making cross-country trips in the Mirai, at least not yet. Plus, if you value clean-powered design and performance, for nearly half the price of the Limited, you could get a Car and Driver’s Editor’s Choice award-winning Honda Civic Type-R or a few other similar sedans with supercar performance. Still, if the Mirai is a glimpse into the future of clean-energy vehicles, and you’re a California resident with $66,000 to spare, the Mirai Limited is worth considering today.
RELATED: Toyota Mirai: Do Hydrogen Top Gear: Toyota Mirai Breaks World Record With 845 Mile Trip