Toyota Mirai powers through 200,000km test on European roads
Kaori Hasegawa

This car is called ‘Mirai’ for a reason – it means ‘future’ in Japanese.

Toyota Mirai is the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle. Using hydrogen as fuel to generate electricity and emitting only water, the Mirai makes superior environmental performance a reality.

The car to contribute to a sustainable future society has been launched in Japan, the US and in Europe – UK, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway throughout 2015 and 2016.

Meanwhile, a third party has endorsed the Mirai’s driving performance through an extensive and demanding road testing in Germany, Italy, Austria and Norway. The test ran over an eight-month period spanning all four seasons.

A distance equivalent to driving 78 times from Brussels to Moscow

Starting in Hamburg, the road test covered a wide range of areas that represented all types of Europe-specific driving conditions. These areas included cities, countryside and motorways including German autobahns with no speed limit.

As the road test took place during all four seasons, the Mirai was exposed to a wide spectrum of outside temperatures with the coldest being minus 20 degrees Celsius and the highest 37.

Responsibility for the road test was given to KJ Tech Services GmbH of Darmstadt in Germany. Patrick Hake, Project Manager says: “Not only the total distance was specified, but also the amount of time spent on different types of road.”

“We therefore carefully worked out several routes in the areas which represented the most typical road conditions in Europe. Then, we organised a team of fourteen drivers working in one or two shifts per day, six days a week, to ensure we completed the road test according to the exact specifications.”


16 hours a day for 250 days

The first phase of the test ran from September 2015 to February 2016, the second phase from May to November 2016.  For 250 days, the Mirai was on the road for 16 hours per day.

During its 200,000 kilometre journey, the car used around 2,000kg of hydrogen. The tyres were changed five times mostly to switch between summer and winter tyres, thebrake was replaced once and brake pads three times. The Mirai had no mechanical breakdowns.

“Throughout months of testing, the car ran very smoothly with no issues at all,” says Patrick. “The fuel cell operated with 100% reliability. Even after driving 200,000 km, we didn’t notice any power loss at all.”

“This was also the case during a week when the outside temperature dropped to minus 20 degrees Celsius: no start-up problems were reported. It was very hot when we drove through Munich in summer, but we could keep cool in the car with the air conditioning working without any problem.”

Throughout the 200,000km drive, the car didn’t need anything more than normal maintenance.


Cruising fun and comfort

“We had a good cruising feeling even in the mountains. ‘Fun’ and ‘comfort’ are the best words to describe it.”

“We were surprised by the car’s power. It was easy to manoeuvre even in curves, had responsive steering and smooth acceleration. The power was immediately available when we wanted it, for example to overtake or pull away from traffic lights.”

“The interior was enjoyable, too. The luxurious leather seats and steering wheel were a nice touch.  The cabin was spacious enough; even the tallest driver had plenty of legroom.”

“This is a rare case where I, as a project manager of a vehicle testing company, hear so much positive feedback from different drivers. They all have different driving styles from defensive to sporty. During this Mirai road test, they had to rigorously respect safety before anything else, as well as the predefined route and time. However, we didn’t ask them to change their usual driving style.”

Fill her up!

The drivers themselves were responsible for filling the car with hydrogen. “The process of filling up a hydrogen car is very similar to that of refuelling a conventional diesel or gasoline car. So, we received only minimal training which focused on ensuring safety.”

“Refuelling was a very easy and safe process. We recognised a major advantage of the Mirai over pure BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles): refuelling is faster. It takes just three minutes and was immediately ready to drive. ”

“We observed that the quality of service was very good in all the hydrogen stations where we stopped. They were all willing and quick to help us. We could feel that they were committed and happy to contribute to the introduction of the new energy which makes zero-emission mobility a reality. As drivers, we also appreciated being able to enjoy the same quality of driving experience as conventional cars while emitting only water.”

“If more and more hydrogen refuelling stations could be deployed, we wouldn’t see any reason why more customers would not pick the Mirai as their new car.”

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