Source: Toyota

Toyota Motor Corp (ADR) (NYSE:TM) knows well the challenges emanating from the nascent fuel cell infrastructure in the US. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) as well as its Supercharger network is being challenged by Toyota in an attempt to triumph in the alternative fuel vehicle competition. Tesla has nearly 500 Supercharger stations worldwide including many in the US. Many more are set to open in 2016.

Mirai will be launched in October this year in the state of California. The vehicle comes with an asking price of $58,000. Tesla’s Model S can only travel 270 miles before requiring a fuel refill whereas Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai can travel 312 miles without a fuel refill. It hardly takes 5 minutes to fill the Mirai with hydrogen. A Tesla Model S needs more than an hour to charge at a Supercharger Station.

The disadvantage of Mirai is there are hardly 12 filling stations in the US. An electric car such as Tesla’s can be charged at home or at public charging stations.

Toyota is presently restricting Mirai sales to California. In the state, there are 48 hydrogen filling stations in different stages of development. Two stations have been completed. Around eight are still in the construction phase. It is expected to have 10 to 15 stations in operation by the end of this year. In other words, they are ready to serve Mirai customers. Around 20 more will be ready in 2016.

Toyota has started taking orders for its hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle from this month onwards. The target is to sell 3,000 vehicles by 2017.

It certainly looks like Mirai will pose a formidable challenge to Tesla in the alternative fuel vehicle segment. Tesla needs to pull up its shoes to stay ahead in the market. Hydrogen is very appealing because of its widespread availability and no emissions. But current technology indicates it will only be widely adopted in the distant future.

Sources: Forbes, Mashable

24 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe the article is just a news article and not a white paper on the use of Hydrogen???

    maybe you want to go to the articles sources Forbes and Mashable and tell them that their articles are jokes???

  2. It will be a rare collectible some day. The museum curator will discuss what a failure it was. People who have tested hydrogen cars say they spend a lot of time and effort around getting to a hydrogen station.

  3. Unfortunately these 2+ MILLION dollar stations require about an hour to repressurize and cool the fuel after only TWO car have been filed up. SO they CANNOT fule anywhere close to 60 cars pre hour. It is MORE Like four….

  4. Lets see,

    The Mirai can go about 140 miles away for the nearest Hydrogen station. There are very few of them and the ones that exist have proven to be HIGHLY unreliable. They are often down for days at a time and require that you wait about an hour if you are third in line to get fuel while the station compresses and cools more hydrogen. Many of them can only generate enough pressure (5,000 psi) to give you a 1/2 full tank as the Mirai needs 10,000 psi for a full tank.

    So the REAL range is the 312 miles minus twice the distance from your home to the Highly Unreliable Hydrogen station. (In my case that is about 2500 miles)

    For that benefit you get:

    1) The performance and driving style of an overweight Toyota Prius as the Mirai is over 4000lb.
    2) Less interior room than a Prius. (Need a place for the fuel Cell, batteries (yep, it still needs batteries) and hydrogen tanks)
    3) The Fuel once the three year “Free” period are up is MORE expensive than gasoline.
    4) You get to pay about Three times as much as a Prius ($60K) for the car that you can only drive in California.
    5) A car that literally release MORE C02 than a Toyota Prius because the Hydrogen is made from Steam reformed natural gas so there is no “Green” advantage.
    6) But hey, at least it is ugly…

    Yep, that should be from stiff competition to the Model S…

  5. Most pickup trucks are relatively inexpensive “hauling machines” that are frequently used around town. It’s much smarter to make PHEV pickup trucks over the next several years, because:
    1. today’s batteries are much too expensive.
    2. most pickup trucks do short hauling anyway.

    Having a PHEV pickup truck keeps the price low, lowers the cost of fuel, improves fuel economy, and provides good torque. Unfortunately, Tesla doesn’t make PHEVs, and the major automakers don’t want to make low (or no) margin pickup trucks. Can’t say that I blame them. So, I guarantee that you won’t see a 250 mile BEV pickup truck until Tesla makes one after 2025.

  6. Everything is possible, but we are getting into realms of science-fiction. Perhaps I’ll clarify, there’s no battery technology currently available that would allow to make a pickup truck that has 250 mile range and cost less than 50k (base model). Note that pickup truck would need around 150kWh battery as it lacks good aerodynamics.

    I agree with you that overall Hydrogen is too expensive. However cost is probably not that big of an issue for places like California that would be happy to export pollution (via hydrogen) elsewhere. Even if it was 2x price of gasoline.

  7. “Otherwise, by 2018 we will read reports how Tesla can refuel in 20 minutes but owner has to wait 30 minutes in line to do so.”

    Why would you do that when you can refuel your EV at home (90% of the time) and not wait at all? It’s the hydrogen vehicle that requires you to find a public refueling station that’s open and wait to refuel, 100% of the time. There will be no home refueling option for hydrogen vehicles.

  8. “(for example there’s no way Tesla can make electric pickup truck – with 250 mile range – until 2020).”

    Any of the major automakers could make a fine plug-in hybrid pickup truck today, if they wanted to, but they don’t want to. There’s too much profit in old technology. Tesla’s a little busy right now getting out the Model X SUV, and completing the gigafactory in preparation for the mass market Model 3 sedan.

    A more accurate statement is: “Hydrogen has future for cars and trucks when all of the cheap and easily accessible oil has been consumed.” Today, we’re just in the “get acquainted” phase. Hydrogen and Natural Gas is the oil industry’s “life after oil”.

  9. Haha, Tesla already sold 11,600 Model S so far this year alone, despite costing way more than the Mirai will.

    Meanwhile there are hundreds of thousands of plug-in vehicles on the road right now. By 2020 it wouldn’t be a stretch to say it could reach a million.

    By that comparison, yeah, 3000 cars, wooo. Fuel cell cars are really going to dominate the alternative fuel market.

  10. Hydrogen has future for cars that cannot, due to their utility, have aerodynamic shape (for example there’s no way Tesla can make electric pickup truck – with 250 mile range – until 2020). I also think that electric-hydrogen hybrid would be a viable combination.

  11. “but there’s 20mil set aside for installation of hydrogen filling stations.”

    Ok. $20M. That’s 6 stations. For the same money you can build 133 Supercharger stations, and corporate America is footing the bill, instead of tax money. Don’t get me wrong. I fully support having multiple alternatives to gas/diesel for public transportation. But the cost of hydrogen as a automotive fuel is 3 times the current price of gasoline, while electricity is 1/4 the current price of gasoline. I hate to see the consumers and taxpayers get duped on this hydrogen thing.

  12. That’s like saying it’s totally worth to spend $3 million to buy a restaurant because it could make $3 million a year even though in reality the place is mostly empty most of the times.

  13. There is another article that says California will the one who builds the hydrogen stations, not Toyota, and it limits to 20 stations for $20 millions a year. So that’s about $1 million per station.

    I don’t know how Toyota gets that deal because Tesla could use $20 millions to build its supercharging network. Toyota is a lot bigger and richer than Tesla. I don’t think it needs help.

  14. The author wrote “It certainly looks like Mirai will pose a formidable challenge to Tesla” immediately after saying Toyota hopes to sell 3,000 cars by the end of 2017. That’s 3,000 cars in two and a half years. Yes, that sounds very formidable. Tesla must be shaken in its boots now.

  15. Sure, upfront costs may be higher. However once you have sold thousands of vehicles (and Toyota will not be the only fuel cell car maker) upfront cost will be insignificant and economies of scale will rule. At that point hydrogen filling station will have an edge over supercharger stations and Tesla better be ready. Otherwise, by 2018 we will read reports how Tesla can refuel in 20 minutes but owner has to wait 30 minutes in line to do so.

    It appears California government has not given up on hydrogen (don’t forget that was CARB that killed EV1 in favor a promise of fuel cell vehicles) and current rules not only favor hydrogen vehicles over EV but there’s 20mil set aside for installation of hydrogen filling stations.

  16. That makes no sense whatsoever “cost per fueled car, per hour”. I don’t think Toyota will even sell 60 hydrogen cars to the general public – the stations are too expensive, they will likely never be built – period. How many stations will be built at $3 million each? Who will pay for that? California is broke. The Federal Gov’t won’t build them, and the oil industry won’t build them (before they run out of easily accessible oil), the auto industry certainly won’t build them. What a silly gamble for Toyota. At least they are still “King of the Hybrids”.

  17. If you consider cost per fueled car per hour: 8 cars per hour for Tesla and 60 cars per hour for Toyota, hydrogen stations are not that expensive.

  18. “It certainly looks like Mirai will pose a formidable challenge to Tesla in the alternative fuel vehicle segment. Tesla needs to pull up its shoes to stay ahead in the market. Hydrogen is very appealing because of its widespread availability and no emissions.”

    After reading this I searched my house, I found many electrical outlets that could be used to charge a Tesla (as a matter of fact there are 4 240 volt outlets in my basement workshop) but not one single hydrogen outlet. Then I searched for local hydrogen filling stations – none. I then did a search on how hydrogen is produced – WOW that stuff is NOT emissions free!

    $58,000 for an ugly Corolla with no fuel savings, nowhere to fill up, and dismal performance. There’s no contest – I’d take a used Model S at that price point.

  19. I can’t believe that a graduate student author didn’t do an adequate amount of research before writing this article. Aside from the inadequate deployment of hydrogen refueling stations, building the stations in adequate numbers is cost prohibitive at $3 million per station (after all the regulatory hurdles have been satisfied). Verses $150K for the typical Tesla supercharger station with 8 stalls. Not to mention the minimal regulatory paperwork.

    But publishing an article with “Tesla” in the title gets page clicks, so keep up the good work.

  20. This article is a joke. This is not an honest look at hydrogen or the sacrifices hydrogen drivers will have to make. Then there are the issues of how is the hydrogen made and how much does it cost? Hydrogen made from fossil fuels is a zero sum gain. The Mirai’s 0-60 time is 9 seconds versus 2.8 seconds for the Tesla Model S P90D. These two cars are not in the same league.

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