An Afternoon With the Toyota Mirai
June 13, 2018 | Kathryn Kellogg
Last Updated on September 15, 2020
I didn’t grow up in the most eco-friendly area. I didn’t grow up with the most eco-conscious parents. Honestly, I didn’t know what recycling was until I was in college.
I’m living proof that you don’t have to be born a hippie to become one.
Through writing this blog and authentically living my values, I’ve seen shifts in the habits of those around me. My parents are both avid recyclers, bring their own bags, say no to straws, and we get to chat all about the latest eco happenin’s.
This post was sponsored by Toyota as always all thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information please see my disclosure page.
Recently, I had the chance to test drive the Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicle that only emits water! YES. WATER.
As I was chatting with my dad about hydrogen power, he told me about a paper he wrote in the eighth grade about airplanes powered by hydrogen.
It’s really neat to think of technology he dreamed about so many years ago is not only possible, but actually available and on the market.
Toyota invited me to the EMA Impact Summit 2018 to listen to an amazing line-up of panelists from celebrities to CEOs talking all about their environmental initiatives and what they’re doing to make the world a better place.
While there, I got chat with Jana Hartline the Mirai Marketing Manager at Toyota Motor North America about the future of transportation.
Toyota has been working on hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles and electric hybrid cars since the 80s! Toyota released the Prius in 1997 before their hydrogen vehicles because building the infrastructure for hydrogen fuel takes time.
Fun Fact: Prius means ‘to go before’, and Mirai means ‘the future’.
Right now, the Mirai, a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, is only available in California because it’s the only state with hydrogen fueling stations, but fueling stations are expanding to cities in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
By working with California government agencies and committing millions of dollars to hydrogen fuel providers, Toyota is helping to build an infrastructure that supports a growing community of Fuel Cell Vehicle drivers.
The Mirai is powered by electricity which is created within the vehicle’s fuel cell stack.The hydrogen fuel in the Mirai reacts with oxygen from the air to create electricity. This electricity powers the motor. Instead of being powered by charging a battery (which can take 45+ minutes or hours), the Mirai makes its own power on board and only takes about 5 minutes to refuel.
When you go to the hydrogen fueling station, you fill up with hydrogen gas instead of gasoline allowing this car to be very scalable. This is incredible technology since a lot of our goods are trucked across the country by 18-Wheelers.
Hydrogen is a way to move things quickly while still being zero emissions!
When you’re driving, the hydrogen gas mixes with oxygen to generate an electric current. The electricity is used to power the electric motor of the vehicle and the only thing emitted is water.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and there are many ways of capturing it. Most importantly, it can be produced using renewable energy and stored and sent without having to worry about the fluctuation that sometimes comes with wind and solar like if it’s a cloudy day.
One of the things I loved about driving this car around town is that I got a score! Every time I drove the vehicle, it ranked my driving to let me know how I was doing. Was I driving as efficiently as possible?
Utilizing scores and ranks are wonderful motivators. Humans are naturally competitive. I love that Toyota has found a way to harness our love for games and competitive nature to turn it into a tool to benefit the environment.
Other features of the Mirai that I absolutely loved were the back-up camera, the navigation system, and you can hook up your phone to receive hands free calls.
There’s a hydrogen fueling station coming to my neighborhood in 2019, and this might just be my next car! After talking to Jana, it was apparent Toyota isn’t planning for today. They’re planning for the future, and they always have been.
And friends, I’m really excited about the future. I’m very optimistic about what we can do to change the tides on emissions and plastic pollution. The EMA Impact Summit was so uplifting and rejuvenating.
I walked away feeling empowered because in the words of Paul Hawken – “This isn’t game over; it’s game on.”
I know that this was sponsored by Toyota and you were very transparent about that. I did a little research on hydrogen however and it apparently takes a good amount of carbon to create and transport hydrogen fuel. Of course, technology will improve and hydrogen fuel will become more efficient in the future, but I hope this new car and technology doesn’t lead to a NIMBYism where people think they are being green but the pollution only happens at a place distant from their homes and awareness. Additionally, solar is a VERY reliable source of energy, especially mixed with new emerging battery technology which does allow us to use solar energy at night when the sun isn’t shining. I hope this "unreliable" solar stereotype dies out because it is damaging to the industry and leads people to believe that they can’t really power their homes and cars economically with solar (they can!). I’m also excited to see where the hydrogen fuel technology leads to in the future, but I hope we continue moving towards solar + electric vehicles as quickly as we can because this technology already exists and is reliably zero waste to use. (of course solar equipment takes energy and materials to produce, but average equipment lasts 20-30 years and is recycleable, so I would call that pretty durable)
Did they discuss plans to reduce plastic in New cars?