In its second model year in the U.S., the fuel-cell car from Toyota returns virtually unchanged, including the price. In making the pricing announcement of the 2017 Toyota Mirai, the Japanese automaker also touts “the opportunity to be a part of automotive history.”
No kidding. What other hydrogen fuel cell vehicle do you spy in your neighborhood? For that matter, in most any neighborhood.
Even if you happen to live in California, long the land of visionaries and first-adopters of technology, it might be a stretch to plunk down $58,365 ($57,500 MSRP plus $865 destination charge) to claim your place in automotive history.
But Toyota does make it enticing to consider buying or leasing the 2017 Mirai.
- On a purchase, Mirai customers may be eligible for an $8,000 federal tax credit and, in California, a potential $5,000 rebate.
- In addition, buyers and lessees will have access to the California HOV carpool lane.
- Toyota’s Trailblazer program includes a 36-month lease at $349 per month, with $2,499 payable at signing. The lease includes a 12,000-miles-per-year mileage allowance.
- There’s also Trailblazer APR support of 0% for five years or 1.9% for 72 months, and Trailblazer purchase support of $7,500.
But, wait. It gets even better.
Want free fuel? Toyota will pay for the hydrogen for the first three years, up to $15,000. You’ll get a credit card to use at the hydrogen fueling stations.
The problem might be finding a station to refuel the Mirai. Currently, there’s only 11 open in the greater Southern California area. Some 38 stations are projected to be open in the state by the end of 2016, with 50 currently funded stations projected to be open by the end of 2017. That’s according to the 2016 Annual Evaluation of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment and Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development report.
Fascinating information, if you care to read through it. Still, it boils down to how far can you go before you run out of fuel and what if where you’re going, there’s no place to refuel? Don’t plan on a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas anytime soon. You’d probably make it there, but since there aren’t any hydrogen fueling stations in Nevada, the trip back is doubtful without a flatbed.
Nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are only 29 hydrogen stations at present. This does not include private stations.
Granted, this is a huge achievement from Toyota. The Mirai boasts zero emissions, no tailpipe, refuels in about five minutes, and a range of about 312 miles. The only competition the Mirai has (or will have) is thefuel cell and the upcoming Honda Clarity fuel cell, although other automakers (Audi, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan) may follow.
It might just be a little early, however, for most consumers to jump on board with fuel cell vehicles.