Cat Hiles

Toyota Mirai Put Through Its Paces in Road Test

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2016 Toyota Mirai

The Toyota Mirai excelled during its 100,000-km road test

While many automakers are concentrating on releasing all the crossovers or taking the EV market by storm, Toyota has been busy promoting its first-ever mass-produced hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, the Mirai. Hydrogen-powered cars are still in their infancy, thanks largely to a lack of infrastructure, but if and when they become more widespread, Toyota wants to be at the center of it all. In this light, the Japanese automaker just finished a brutal 100,000-km road test of the Mirai in Germany, and the sedan came out looking pretty darn good.

The mega road test was carried out on Toyota’s behalf by KJ Tech Services—a German company whose sole purpose is to drive cars thousands of kilometers to see how they fare. Prior to the test, Toyota met with the firm to discuss the required distance and various terrains and conditions the test should cover. With this information, KJ Tech Services devised a route in and around the Hamburg area and began work.

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The Mirai was driven for a total of 16 hours each day, six days per week. A total of eight drivers worked in two eight-hour shifts per day, following the predetermined route on autobahns, city streets, and rural roads for a total of 107 days. At the conclusion of the test, the Mirai had reached a whopping 100,000 kilometers.

But how did the Mirai fare overall? KJ Tech Services project manager Patrick Hake reported that the “Mirai performed excellently with no mechanical breakdowns. The fuel cell operated with 100 percent reliability. This was also the case during a week in which the outside temperature dropped to -20 degrees Centigrade (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), when no problems with cold starts were reported.”

In addition to its reliability, drivers reported that the Mirai was extremely comfortable and spacious—an especially important trait when covering multiple hours at a time behind the wheel. Additionally, testers described the Mirai as easy to maneuver and good at handling curves, with responsive steering and smooth acceleration. Two tire changes and one front brake pad replacement were the only required maintenance over these 100,000 kilometers.

In all, the Mirai was refueled more than 400 times with over 2,205 pounds of hydrogen used. Drivers touted the car’s three-minute refueling time as a definite advantage over traditional EVs, which typically require hours to reach their fully-juiced states.

Currently, the Mirai is available in limited quantities in Japan, California, the UK, Denmark, Germany, and Belgium, though Toyota will add Sweden and Norway to that list this summer.

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  • Cat HilesManaging Editor

    Catherine Hiles is a native Brit currently based in Dayton, Ohio. Don't ask how that happened. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, from dog training to fashion, and counts running and cooking among her hobbies. Cat lives with her husband, Ben; their daughter, Rose; and their collection of animals, including an energetic mutt, an elderly basset hound, and a jerk cat. See more articles by Cat.

  • Bob_Wallace

    The Tesla S picks up 170 miles of charge in 30 minutes at a Supercharger.

    Did it really take only three minutes to refill the Mirai? Other drivers report taking far longer.

    And the Mirai got something less than 250 km (400 fills)

    Did you calculate a cost per mile for the hydrogen?

    • Cat Hiles

      I can’t personally attest to how long it takes to fill the Mirai, having never driven one myself. However, reports I have read state that it takes between three and five minutes. Tesla has the advantage over other EVs because of the Supercharger system, but three to five minutes still beats 30 minutes if you’re refueling on-the-go.

      One thing to keep in mind with the purported range discrepancy you mention is that the drivers probably didn’t let the Mirai’s fuel tank go completely empty before refueling. Hydrogen refueling stations aren’t as widespread as gas stations, so it’s probable that they had to fill up when they could rather than waiting it out. Toyota and the EPA give the Mirai a range of 502 km (312 miles) and I doubt they would have been that off in their estimates.

      There are many variables to calculating cost-per-mile, and I don’t have enough information to make a solid judgment there.

    • socrateos

      They said the test covered 100,000 km using 1000 kg of hydrogen. That translates to the rate of 100 km/kg. Since Toyota Mirai’s tank can hold 5 kg, the range was 500 km (310 miles) per fill.

      • Cat Hiles

        Thanks for doing the calculations, socrateos. My math skills are shocking.