By Mark G. McLaughlin
“Mirai” means “the future” in Japanese, and Toyota’s Mirai is as futuristic a car as any on the road – or the drawing board – today. The vehicle runs on hydrogen, a fuel extracted from water, and does so efficiently and without the noxious emissions or irksome noises of the internal combustion engines found in traditional vehicles. The hydrogen fuel cell powered engine, however, is just one of the many breakthrough technologies found in the Toyota Mirai.
Powerful, reliable and long-range hydrogen power
The hydrogen fuel cell system is, of course, the key technology around which the Mirai was built. That it can go from zero to 50 mph in 9.4 seconds may not excite muscle car fans, but with 152 HP it is more than adequate to meet the needs and expectations of the majority of drivers. And it can keep it up for about 300 miles between fill-ups. That is power, range and reliability – three hurdles that hybrids had to jump to enter the mainstream market. The Mirai is part of the first generation of hydrogen cell power vehicles to meet those three challenges.
The only byproduct of a hydrogen fuel cell is water – or steam. The Mirai is a full zero-emission vehicle. It is also a uniquely quiet vehicle, as its engine is nearly silent (thus greatly reducing noise pollution).
One-speed direct drive transmission
The Mirai has a one-speed direct drive transmission. The gearbox functions much more smoothly than that in traditional vehicles. A motor inside the gearbox manages the rotation of the input shaft and countershaft to help keep them consistent. The Mirai shifts gears more smoothly than cars with traditional drives and makes cruising smoother as well, as fewer gears need to connect to keep it at speed.
Mirai sports Michelin’s High-Tech Primacy Tires
The Mirai is firmly grounded, literally, as its tires are among the best and most innovative available: the Michelin Primacy MXC4 215/35R-17. The Primacy is a twin steel belted, all-weather, year-round tire designed especially to give a comfortable, responsive ride. The Comfort Control Technology, as Michelin states, “uses computer-optimized design and precision manufacturing to reduce vibrations and road noise.” Even the tread is a new advanced technology; one that, as Michelin states, “combines notched shoulders, independent intermediate tread blocks and continuous center ribs. Michelin’s Active Sipes alternately lock together and open as needed to provide increased biting edges that grip the road to provide all-season handling, especially in rain and snow.”
The Mirai is unique because, unlike electric cars or hybrids which require recharging, the Mirai can be a source of power. The fuel cell produces direct current (DC) but also converts it to alternating current (AC). With its power-out socket in the trunk, it can act as a generator – and one without the noise, toxic fumes or need to be outdoors – and provide enough energy to power a home for about two days.