Will next year's new Toyota Mirai look like this? This coupé-style four-door concept ostensibly previews the second generation of Toyota's fuel-cell flagship, which comes as a great relief; it's much easier on the eye than the innovative but wacky current model which was launched in 2014.
Beyond the aesthetic improvements, it comes with a raft of more important changes under the skin. A larger hydrogen fuel tank and more efficient fuel cell are said to offer a 30 per cent improvement to driving range over the 300 miles of the current model, which has a 153bhp, 247lb ft in-house-developed fuel-cell powertrain, with a 1.5kWh 60kg nickel-metal-hydride battery pack and control electronics from a Camry hybrid. That works out at around 390 miles – the longest of any zero-emission car.
There are, however, a number of phrases in the press release for this handsome concept that might indicate all is not quite as it seems. The term concept and 'special exhibit' often indicate that the production car, which is due on sale next year in time for the 'hydrogen Olympics' in Japan, won't look the same, and it's possible that the car we see today really is just a concept.
“We have pursued the goal of making a car that customers will feel they want to drive all time," says Yoshikazu Tanaka, the new Mirai’s chief engineer. "A car that has an emotional and attractive design and the kind of dynamic and responsive."
With the UK Government seemingly hell bent on betting the farm on battery-electric technology over any other, many global car makers have continued to work on fuel cell propulsion not just for passenger cars but also for commercial vehicles, buses and trains in the rest of the world. And while it might not be visible here in Britain, the future of hydrogen-powered mobility is looking increasingly bright in places like Germany, China, Korea and Japan.
Toyota has produced more than 10,000 Mirais which have been sold all around the world and has encouraged and invested in hydrogen refuelling structures, though sadly not in the UK. In London a fleet of 27 Mirais has covered more than a million miles in the hands of private hire company Green Tomato Cars for its zero emissions executive car services which serve 2,000 corporate clients.