Toyota has revealed the 2021 Mirai Concept, essentially a production-ready preview of the second iteration of the brand’s hydrogen fuel-cell electric sedan that will go on sale in select markets in late 2020.
The original Mirai that debuted in 2015 had many things going for it, including being the first production hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) offered for sale to retail customers in North America, but desirability was not one of them.
With the new model, Toyota is rebooting the series with a more coupe- and Lexus- (and less Prius-) inspired design, while surprisingly ditching the first Mirai’s more common front-wheel drive architecture for a sportier rear-wheel drive setup, all in the name of creating a more desirable car.
Yoshikazu Tanaka, Chief Engineer of the Mirai, explains: “We have pursued making a car that customers feel like driving all the time, a car that has emotional and attractive design appeal, as well as dynamic and responsive driving performance that can bring a smile to the faces of drivers,” he said .“I want customers to say, ‘I chose the Mirai not because it’s an FCEV, but because I really wanted this car, and it just happened to be an FCEV.’”
The production nature of the 2021 Mirai is evident from the down-to-earth interior too, which for the most part, avoids the excessive and off-putting design language of its predecessor. Aside from the standard 8-inch digital instrument panel and the Toyota Premium Multimedia infotainment system with a 12.3-inch high-resolution TFT touchscreen, there will also be an available digital rear-view mirror displaying images from a camera.
Under the skin
With a similar footprint to the Lexus GS, the second-generation Mirai rides on Toyota’s global RWD platform, which should make it a lot more engaging behind the wheel. It also promises to deliver a 30-percent increase in range exceeding 390 miles (~630 km) between refueling, said to have been achieved by an improvement in fuel cell system performance and increased hydrogen storage capacity.
Unlike regular electric cars, the Mirai generates its own electricity onboard from hydrogen and oxygen, emitting water as the only byproduct. A big advantage over conventional battery-powered cars is that a fill-up takes only about five minutes at an SAE-conforming hydrogen fueling station, which sounds great until you consider that there’s only a handful of places that offer hydrogen – for now, at least. That’s why currently, Toyota only plans to sell the new Mirai in California and Hawaii, though it said that there are new stations planned for the Northeast and other areas.
We’ll know more at the end of the month when Toyota brings it to the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show that runs from October 24 through November 4.