The Philippine Star

Toy­ota launches re­vamped hy­dro­gen sedan

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TOKYO (Reuters) — Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp. un­veiled a com­pletely re­designed hy­dro­gen-pow­ered fuel cell sedan on Fri­day in its lat­est at­tempt to re­vive de­mand for the niche tech­nol­ogy that it hopes will be­come main­stream.

Ja­pan’s big­gest au­tomaker has been de­vel­op­ing fuel-cell ve­hi­cles for more than two decades, but the tech­nol­ogy has been eclipsed by the rapid rise of ri­val bat­tery-pow­ered elec­tric ve­hi­cles pro­moted by the likes of Tesla Inc .

Ahead of the Tokyo Mo­tor Show start­ing on Oct. 24, Toy­ota un­veiled a pro­to­type of the new hy­dro­gen sedan built on the same plat­form as its lux­ury Lexus brand’s LS coupe. The new Mi­rai model boasts longer driv­ing range than its pre­de­ces­sor and com­pletely re­designed fuel cell stack and hy­dro­gen tanks, the com­pany said.

“We wanted to make a car that peo­ple re­ally want to buy, not just be­cause it’s an eco car,” Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief en­gi­neer of the new Mi­rai, said at the un­veil­ing.

“We wanted some­thing that’s fun to drive.”

Its sporty re­design with longer wheel­base and lower-slung chas­sis is a marked de­par­ture from the first-gen­er­a­tion Mi­rai, which looks like a bulked-up Prius hy­brid.

The new car also has a 30 per­cent im­prove­ment in driv­ing range over the pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion’s ap­prox­i­mately 700 kilo­me­ters (435 miles), ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

Tanaka said the lat­est Mi­rai would cost less to make than its pre­de­ces­sor, be­cause of a shift to mass pro­duc­tion. The cur­rent model is mostly as­sem­bled by hand.

Cost­ing con­sumers about 5 mil­lion yen ($46,500) af­ter sub­si­dies in Ja­pan, the orig­i­nal Mi­rai is one of three fuel cell cars avail­able to con­sumers. Hyundai Mo­tor Co. sells the Nexo, while Honda Mo­tor Co. Ltd. leases out the Clar­ity.

Toy­ota has sold fewer than 10,000 of the Mi­rai, a fuel cell sedan it touted as a game changer at its launch five years ago. By con­trast, Tesla sold 25,000 of bat­tery-pow­ered Model S sedans in its first year and a half.

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