Toyota Mirai powers through long-distance road test
Over the winter, the hydrogen fuel cell powered Toyota Mirai successfully completed an extensive and demanding road test in Germany.
Even the most workaholic sales rep would have difficulty clocking up 100,000 kilometres in just over 100 days. Yet this was the distance stipulated for the European road test carried out on the Mirai, Toyota’s new hydrogen fuel cell car.
Responsibility for the road test was given to KJ Tech Services GmbH of Hamburg. Project Manager was Patrick Hake: “Not only the total distance was specified, but also the amount of time spent on different types of road. We therefore carefully worked out a single route in and around Hamburg, and organised a team of eight drivers working in two shifts per day, six days a week, to ensure we completed the road test according to the exact specifications.”
These specifications involved the Mirai driving in the city, on rural roads, on motorways, and on German autobahns with no speed limit.
16 hours a day for 107 days
The test started on 21st September 2015 and finished on 10th February. Every day for 107 days, the Mirai was on the road for 16 hours.
During its 100,000 kilometre journey, the car used just over 1000kg of hydrogen. The tyres were changed twice, and its front brake pads were replaced. The Mirai performed excellently with no mechanical breakdowns.
The fuel cell operated with 100% reliability. This was also the case during a week in which the outside temperature dropped to minus 20 degrees Centigrade, when no problems with cold starts were reported.
Fun to drive
But what did the eight drivers think of the Mirai?
“They were blown away!” says Patrick. “They all agreed that driving the Mirai was a very pleasurable – even fun – experience.”
The drivers thought the interior of the Mirai was comfortable and attractive, and remarked on the luxurious leather seats and steering wheel. It was also spacious; even the tallest driver said there was plenty of legroom. It handled well on curves, was easy to manoeuvre, and the steering was responsive. Acceleration was smooth with no jerking, and the drivers were actually surprised by the car’s power. “The power was immediately available when you wanted it, for example to overtake or surge away from traffic lights,” remarked one driver.
When the car stopped at traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, the Mirai’s distinctive styling received many admiring stares from other car drivers or nearby passers-by. And eyebrows rose when the car sped away so silently. “During these occasions, the drivers really felt proud to be driving something unique and special,” adds Patrick.
Fill her up!
The drivers themselves were responsible for filling the car with hydrogen. They had all received a short explanation of how to fill the Mirai’s tanks with hydrogen. However, as there is not much difference between filling up a hydrogen car and a conventional diesel or gasoline car, any training necessary was minimal.
The drivers found refuelling a very easy and safe process. They recognised a major advantage of the Mirai over other electric vehicles. Instead of having to recharge overnight – and therefore be out of action – the Mirai could be refuelled in just three minutes and was immediately ready to drive.
One major problem!
However, at the end of the road test, Patrick was faced with a big headache. “None of the eight test drivers wanted to stop driving the Mirai. They all wanted to take it home with them for their own use!”