Les Hamasaki 2014-12-08 14:27:30
Both Governor Jerry Brown and Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda believe future Californians will be driving hydrogen cars on California's future 'Hydrogen Highway.' The Governor has approved a plan to construct 100 hydrogen fueling stations in the next 10 years at a cost of $20 million. Toyota's all-new Mirai, which uses hydrogen fuel cells for propulsion, is a great leap toward a zero emissions -- and toward the prospect, at least where cars are concerned, of a more carbon- neutral planet. Akio Toyoda is betting on Mirai -- which means "future" in Japanese and is the name of Toyota's new fuel cell vehicle. The vehicle will travel up to 300 miles on a tank of hydrogen, refueling in five minutes at one of the hydrogen stations. Toyota announced plans to begin selling hydrogen cars in California showrooms in 2016. Currently there are about 300 hydrogen- powered cars in operation in California, with only nine fuel stations statewide. Toyota is directly involved with the rollout of the projected hydrogen stations, having committed financial support to First Element Fuel, which plans to build 19 hydrogen fueling stations in California. Fees on motorists will pay for the construction of the stations. AB 8 extended a package of fees. Including a $3 vehicle registration fee and an $8 smog abatement fee. So why hydrogen? In simple terms, it's a clean, sustainable, and efficient technology. In the Mirai, drivers pull up to the pump and refuel with a nozzle just like they're used to in a conventional vehicle. The compressed gaseous hydrogen fills two carbon fiber-wrapped resin composite tanks under the rear seats in about five minutes, mingles with oxygen (sucked in by the car's air intake), and through the miracle of chemistry, you have energy. Toyota's electric motor produces 153 horsepower, which propels the car to 60 mph in around 9.0 seconds. The powertrain's instant torque makes it feel a fair bit quicker, and the placement of the hydrogen equipment gives the car a low center of gravity and sporty feel. There's even an optional Power Take- Off device, a trunk-mounted plug that allows owners to funnel electricity into their homes like a mobile generator. According to Toyota, the Mirai can power the average home's essentials for up to a week. The fuel in the Mirai is stored in bulletproof tanks that are likely stronger than the structures surrounding them. The Mirai starts off at $57,500, with federal incentives potentially dropping the price down to $45,000. As far as filling up, Ali Hoffman, CEO of Air Liquide, says that hydrogen will cost about $10 per kilo to start, which equates to about $4 or $5 a gallon. However, Mirai drivers will fill up for free for the foreseeable future. We garnered about a 50-mpg equivalent during our short drive in California. Hydrogen is a domestic source of power, and 'green' hydrogen can be siphoned from water through electrolysis and even biowaste. California law says that 33 percent of the fuel from state-supported fueling stations will need to come from renewable sources like these. The Mirai, and hydrogen vehicles in general, are on the cutting edge of transitioning from the last century's gray economy powered with fossil fuel -- oil and gas - - to a green economy powered with renewable energy -- hydrogen and solar. Toyota's vision of a future hydrogen society may yet become a reality.
Published by Moreno Valley Business Journal. View All Articles.