Toyota wants to release a new version of its hydrogen-powered Mirai in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, underscoring its commitment to fuel-cell vehicles despite joining the global market for battery-powered cars.
"The 2020 Olympics could be the venue to showcase [the new Mirai] to the world," Kiyotaka Ise, head of advanced research and development at Toyota, told the Financial Times.
The world's top selling carmaker this month disclosed ambitions to join Tesla and Nissan in the crowded battle to build long-range battery-powered cars.
But it is hoping to replicate with Mirai the success it has had with the Prius gasoline-electric hybrid, which cemented the group's image as a pioneer in fuel-saving technology. Released in 2014 and powered by two high-pressure hydrogen tanks and an electric motor, the Mirai emits only water.
"Prius sales rapidly increased from the second generation. We are not sure if [Mirai] will grow that rapidly, but we hope to increase the number of units with Prius as one target," Ise added.
Meanwhile, Honda has delivered its first production fuel-cell vehicle to Europe as part of the Hydrogen for Innovative Vehicles (HyFIVE) demonstration project that's being administered by the European Union, the automaker said Tuesday. The first European drivers of the Clarity Fuel Cell will be in London and Copenhagen.
According to Auto Blog, the EU is putting on the HyFIVE project to help promote fuel-cell vehicle adoption as a way to reduce emissions. Honda is one of five automakers that will deploy 185 fuel-cell vehicles to prospective drivers in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the UK.
Honda plans to start selling the Clarity Fuel Cell in the US by the end of the year and is expected to offer it both for sale at about $60,000, and for lease at $369 a month.
Honda said last month that the 2017 model-year version will have a full-tank (of hydrogen) range of 366 miles. That gives the Clarity Fuel Cell the longest range for any production zero-emissions vehicle in the US, beating out the 2016 Tesla Model S P100D (315 miles) and 2017 Mirai (312 miles).