Scottish Daily Mail
GIVE IT SOME GAS!
TOYOtA’S new eco-friendly Mirai gives a whole new meaning to ‘stepping on the gas’. the ‘gas’ i was stepping on was not petrol but lighter-than-air hydrogen — the most abundant element in the universe. the surprisingly sporty four-door, five-seater is the second generation of toyota’s zeroemissions saloon and the maker says improvements have helped raise fuel economy and increase its range by almost a third to 400 miles.
though hydrogen is the principal source of its power, the Mirai is actually driven by electric motors. A fuel cell acts as a mini onboard power station to generate electric power from the fusion of hydrogen in the fuel tank and oxygen atoms sucked in from the atmosphere.
the other by-product is water, which dribbles out of the exhaust pipe and is so pure you can drink it. the Mirai even purifies the air around it thanks to the onboard chemical reaction and filters.
Many experts believe hydrogen is the real future — nissan, Hyundai and Honda are also exploring fuel-cell cars — and that rechargeable batteries are just a stepping stone to truly green motoring.
the Mirai drives like a normal car and its coupe-like styling is eye-catching and clever. it looks similar to a hatchback, but has a conventional saloon-like boot.
Acceleration from rest to 62mph is nine seconds, but it feels faster thanks to the instant torque from the electric motor.
My top-range example costs £64,995, but the entry level design starts at £49,995, so there’s no Government plug-in car grant, now capped at £35,000.
Filling up is just like with petrol but with a bigger nozzle and costs between £56 and £84. the number of hydrogen filling stations is increasing, but they are still a relative rarity.
Despite fears about hydrogen being highly explosive, backers insist it is safer than petrol as it does not ‘pool’ when spilt.
UK-based itM Power is creating a national network of hydrogen filling stations including ones at Gatwick, Birmingham, Cobham, teddington, Sheffield, Swindon and Aberdeen.