- toyota has revealed its second-generation mirai, a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle coming in 2021, at the tokyo auto show.
- toyota's chief technology officer says the mirai's tech allows it to run on nothing but the the hydrogen sourced from one cow's poop for a year.
- the company is currently building its first manure-powered fueling station in california. the mirai's success depends on reliable fuel-cell infrastructure.
toyota has debuted a complete redesign of its mirai concept vehicle, which would run on hydrogen fuel cells. speaking at the 2019 tokyo auto show, the company's chief technology officer, shigeki terashi, wanted to make clear how revolutionary the car's technology could be, so he chose an unorthodox example of its abilities: the splashy mirai could be powered for a year from hydrogen from a single cow's manure.
the claim, first reported by the telegraph, speaks to the potential of fuel-cell electric vehicles (fcevs). the new mirai, which the company says is mostly what consumers will see when the car goes on sale in 2021, is larger than its predecessor. the first generation of the mirai went on sale in 2014, and toyota has sold over 10,000 to date.
but the new space will allow for toyota to increase the mirai's already impressive fuel mileage. the new mirai is targeted to be able to drive around 400 miles on a single full charge.
"we have worked to make a car that customers will want to drive all the time, a car that has an emotional and attractive design and the kind of dynamic and responsive performance that can bring a smile to the driver’s face," yoshikazu tanaka, chief engineer of the mirai project, told japan times. "we hope that with the new mirai, we will be a leader in helping to realize a hydrogen energy society."
toyota has been interested in cow manure for several years. in 2017, the japanese company announced with shell that they were building a powerplant in long beach, california, that would capture methane gas from dairy cattle manure and convert it into water, electricity, and hydrogen. the companies went ahead with their project, called tri-gen, as a "hydrogen-truck refueling station" in 2018.
"toyota continues to demonstrate that fuel cells are one of the most innovative and sustainable technologies for light and heavy-duty vehicle electrification. this initiative with shell further strengthens our combined commitment to hydrogen as a viable transport fuel," said craig scott, toyota’s director of advanced technology vehicles, at the time.
with cars like the mirai, which means "future" in japanese, the technology has been outpacing the infrastructure. electric cars, which would run on outlet charges as opposed to fuel cells, have suffered a similar problem. ford recently gave electric vehicles a boost in north america with the promise to build out charging infrastructure. for toyota's fcevs to gain widespread use, a similar boost might be needed.