Toyota was the first company to offer the world Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle technology in its faithful commitment to create energy-efficient and zero-emissions vehicles. Today, with the launch of the 2nd generation Prius Plug-in Hybrid, it is taking a step forwards to be in line with the company’s 2050 Environmental Challenge to reduce CO2 emissions by 90%.
A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHV) is a hybrid vehicle that uses rechargeable batteries, or another energy storage device, that can be recharged by plugging it in to an external source of electric power. A PHV shares the characteristics both of a conventional hybrid vehicle, having an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, and of an all-electric vehicle, having a plug to connect to the electrical grid.
What makes the new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid stand out of the crowd ?
1. An advanced technology flagship with world’s first solar roof charging system. The roof of the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid can incorporate a large solar panel which generates electricity to charge the hybrid system battery (both while is parked and during driving); the solar charging can increase the EV driving range up to 5 km per day and up to 1000 km per annum;
2. The air-conditioning is powered by a gas injection heat pump – world first technology – which will heat the cabin in outside temperature as low as -10 degrees C, without starting the engine, hence minimizing the impact which heating the interior has on both fuel consumption and EV driving range;
3. During the charging, a new battery warming system will warm the cells to an efficient working temperature in outside conditions as cold as -20 degrees C. This ensures that both battery power and efficiency are maintained as a sufficient level to minimize the impact of cold weather on EV driving range, with full power available from start off in even very cold conditions;
4. A faster battery charging. The battery maximum charging power increased from 2 to 3.3 kW and can be fully charged up to 65% more quickly; in only 2 hours using a specific connector and 3 hours and 10 minutes using a standard household plug socket. Moreover, the larger lithium-ion battery pack allows drivers to remain in EV mode for a range of over 50 km and at speeds up to 135 km/h;
5. The Dual Motor Drive System it’s Toyota’s first hybrid powertrain. This boosts EV driving power for better acceleration, an even more engaging performance and a maximum EV driving speed of 135 km/h, whilst reducing engine start up frequency;
6. The slim 4-LED headlamp units features new Adaptive Headlamp System (AHS) technology. AHS reduces power consumption by automatically shading light beam areas occupied by preceding and oncoming vehicles. It also maximises the time during which the driver can use the high beam setting for optimum visibility;
7. The Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) tailgate (a world first for mass production vehicles) reduces weight to further enhance the hybrid drive system’s efficiency;
8. The Toyota Safety System incorporates a Pre-Collision System with pedestrian recognition function, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beam, Road Sign Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control which can slow the car to a standstill when necessary, contributing all together to an enhanced safety of the driver and other road participants’;
9. The Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA)-platform with lower centre of gravity (improved handling response and stability & greater design flexibility, better driving position) and more athletic design gives the car a better aerodynamic, thus reducing also fuel consumption;
10. Finally, with an average fuel consumption of 1.0 l/100 km (BIC) and CO2 emissions of only 22 g/km, the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid reaps the latest technological, innovating and styling benefits of an modern car whilst increasing its environmental performance.
For Toyota, safety comes first. And nothing proves it better than the fact that the new Toyota Avensis has been awarded the prestigious Euro NCAP five-star rating.
The programme is composed of four areas – Adult Occupant, Child Occupant, Pedestrian Protection and, since 2009, Safety Assist. The latter includes injury avoidance and mitigating functions, such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (comes standard on the car with the Toyota Safety Sense package), Electronic Stability Control and a speed limiter.
The new Avensis scored an outstanding 93% for Adult Occupant protection, 85% for Child Occupant, 78% for Pedestrian and 81% for Safety Assist. Not bad, isn’t it?
Avensis’ performance earns it a mention on Euro NCAP’s website in the rankings for Safest Family Cars and Safest Fleet Cars.
For this occasion that we talked to the Toyota Motor Europe R&D team who had the scope of its responsibility in vehicle safety development expanded for 2015 Avensis.
“It was a tough journey, but highly rewarding and motivating,” explains Andrea Lucchini Gilera, Manager for Safety group of R&D Vehicle Performance Engineering (VPE).
“Safety performance affects all people in and around the car, and Toyota’s image. There is no way to compromise.”
A manufacturer can sell a car after fulfilling legal requirements in homologation tests. However, this process checks only basic performance. “To guarantee good real-life protection, we take into account additional elements – internal requirements and ratings by external bodies such as Euro NCAP.”
Comprising government agencies and consumer associations, Euro NCAP assesses car’s safety based on a list of tests whose thresholds are stricter than homologation tests. Results are published in number of stars, which is understandable to anyone and easy to compare. In some countries, having a certain number of stars in Euro NCAP testing is a pre-requisite for entering the fleet market.
TME R&D Safety group participates in some of industry working groups which collaborate with Euro NCAP in its periodical reviews of testing protocols and performance requirements. “Through this activity, we try to bring real-life based improvements into the method of evaluating car safety. It also allows us to reflect the future direction on our development,” says Andrea.
“For Avensis safety testing, we knew that there were going to be many challenges: new requirements and new testing method for pedestrian protection, a new front crash test and stricter thresholds for existing tests.”
“Plus, we decided to modify the front seat to reduce weight and cost, while keeping the current level of whiplash performance which is extremely good. We also wanted to implement Toyota Safety Sense – active safety features.”
In 2013, the development activity started. “It’s a continuous loop which also involves Body Design Division a lot. We discuss with designers how to achieve the required safety performance, while taking into account the impact on performance and needs of other development areas”.
Asked about the most challenging part of the project, Andrea named pedestrian safety performance. “For the first time, TME took full responsibility for development. “
“We decided to use CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) simulations to drastically reduce the number of physical tests, and to do the simulations by ourselves at TME. This means that the CAE responsibility was handed over from Japan to Europe. We started by building a number of processes and tools in order to efficiently integrate the new CAE work into our existing workflows. “
Andrea concludes: “Each of us came out of this project with a lot of learning and a stronger sense of ownership.”
“But, this is only the beginning – one step ahead towards next challenges.”
We are pretty excited to welcome the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on our stand at the Frankfurt Motorshow today.
Mrs Merkel has come today to the Messe‘s Hall 8 to take a look at the Toyota Mirai – the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen-powered car.
Mrs Merkel has been welcomed and given a broad explanation of the benefits of the advanced technology by Dr. Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe.
Having a doctorate degree in Physics, she was impressed by the potential use of hydrogen, which also can make an important contribution to the ecological mobility targets of the Federal government. Toyota Mirai will be available already as of middle October in Germany, one of the first European markets for the trailblazing technology.
No need to wait until seen on the roads – step by Hall 8 to see Toyota Mirai already today.
Toyota New Global Architecture
Frankfurt Motor Show 2015 marks the European premiere of the very first TNGA built vehicle – The New Prius, and we are thrilled to tell you more about the concept:
Toyota New Global Architecture – TNGA will be the foundation for all our future powertrain and vehicle development. It marks a revolution in the way we design, engineer and build cars. To keep it simple : the processes will be streamlined by standardizing the size and position of key components within standard new vehicle platforms. This is the foundation of our mission to build ever-better cars.
NEW TOYOTA RAV4 HYBRID
Prestige, comfort and efficiency
By launching the new RAV4 model range we introduce our first hybrid compact SUV in Europe.
Its full hybrid drive system combining a 2.5 litre petrol engine with a powerful electric motor, the new RAV4 Hybrid is available in both front-and all-wheel drive variants.
Developing total system power of 197 hp, the new RAV4 Hybrid marries a seamless, 0-100 km/h acceleration time of just 8.7 seconds to class-leading fuel consumption of only 4.9 l/100 km* and remarkably low, highly tax-efficient CO2 emissions as low as 115 g/km*.
Reinforcing the uniquely quiet, refined and sophisticated driving experience offered by Toyota’s Hybrid technology, the new RAV4 further benefits from enhanced ride comfort and driving dynamics, a quieter cabin environment, stronger, more dynamic exterior design, improved interior sensory quality and functionality, and all the latest innovations in safety and advanced technology.
The Toyota Safety Sense system features a newly developed set of active safety technologies; a new Panoramic View Monitor displays a 360 degree, bird’s-eye view of the vehicle’s immediate surroundings to aid parking and slow speed maneuvering; and the restyled interior benefits from the enhanced functionality of both a 4.2” multi-information screen set between the combi-meters and a 7”, full-colour centre console screen incorporating the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system.
Hybrid Heritage From Revolutionary Idea to World-leading Technology
The idea of an alternative powertrain for cars was already alive at Toyota in the 1960s. But it is in the early 90s that we actually initiated a production-based development programme of environmentally-responsible automotive technologies.
With the 1997 launch of the first generation Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, we instigated a modern day revolution in automotive electrification, and a major industry milestone in vehicle powertrain development and sustainable mobility.
Following the launch of the third generation Prius in 2009, the model became the first full hybrid vehicle available as a complete, stand-alone model range; the 2012 addition of Prius+ and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid creating the Prius Family.
Successive generations of Toyota’s Hybrid powertrains became ever more powerful, yet lighter and more fuel and CO2 efficient. We’ve further expanded our hybrid model line-up with the introduction of the Auris Hybrid in 2010, the Yaris Hybrid (the only full hybrid vehicle in the B-segment) in 2012 and the practical Auris Hybrid Touring Sports in 2013.
Today, cumulative TOYOTA hybrid sales in Europe almost total in 1 Million since the European launch of the first Prius in 2000.
Whereas, Toyota Motor Corporation has sold over 8 million full hybrid vehicles worldwide. This is more than any other manufacturer. Concrete, tangible proof of Toyota’s hybrid powertrains environmental record, is that these sales have already contributed to an estimated reduction in automotive emissions of approximately 58 million tonnes of CO2.
From Niche Model to Global Car
Toyota can rightfully claim to have created the compact SUV market with the launch of its first Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-Wheel Drive (RAV4) in 1994.
When the first generation RAV4 was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show that year, it was quite different to a traditional 4×4. Launched as a compact (3.695 M) 3-door model, the first ‘Urban 4WD’ featured a relatively small, 2.0 litre engine mounted transversally within a monocoque bodyshell, and all-rounded independent suspension. The compact SUV market was born.
In 1994, Toyota sold 53,000 units of RAV4. The following year the sales figures doubled, then tripled the year after that, in 1996. Since then, annual sales have steadily grown with each successive generation, turning Toyota’s pioneering compact SUV from a niche model to a global car. In 2013, RAV4 sales figures outstripped those of 1994 by a factor of 10.
Today, available in 170 countries, four generations of RAV4 have sold more than 6 million units around the world, 1.5 million of them to European customers.
Since 1994, the C-SUV segment has changed and matured. Where early customers often bought compact SUVs as an alternative to sporting hatchbacks and coupes, today’s segment growth is fuelled by families looking for a more engaging and fashionable but nevertheless practical alternative to MPVs and estate cars.
The Power of Two
The perfect response to the demands of a more mature, sophisticated and competitive C-SUV market, Toyota’s new RAV4 Hybrid combines the 20 years of experience in compact SUV evolution with the latest generation of our innovative, full hybrid powertrain technology.
The new RAV4 Hybrid marries dynamic styling, premium interior quality, ingenious packaging and versatility with a full hybrid powertrain offering improved driving feel for an even more a sophisticated driving experience.
The new RAV4 hybrid offers class-leading fuel consumption figures and remarkably low CO2 emissions, promoting significant taxation and Benefit-in-Kind savings.
Driving dynamics – Enhanced Ride Comfort and Steering Feel
The new RAV4 model range benefits for numerous measures designed to enhance ride comfort and driver involvement without sacrificing either stability or controllability.
The linear-type shock absorber had been changed to combine degressive- and choke-type valves, allowing for better adaptation of damping force to differing vehicle speeds and road conditions, and improving ride comfort. The coil spring constant has also been optimised to create a flatter ride feel.
The steering gear box benefits from an increase in rigidity of the installation faste-ning points, promoting a better steering feel.
Improved NVH for a Quieter Cabin
With a particular emphasis on rear seat occupant comfort and ease of conversation within the cabin, the NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) performance of the new RAV4 has been comprehensively improved.
The surface area of the floor silencer has been increased by some 55%, the rear finish plate reshaped, and sound absorbing material added in several locations around the rear deck, reducing road, tire and exhaust noise.
The sound insulation efficiency of both front and rear doors has been improved through an increase in sound absorbing material and the addition of door trim outer insulator, further lowering wind and road noise.
And the instrument panel silencer size has been increased to reduce the transmission of engine noise into the cabin.
Innovation – Safety and Advanced Technology
The new RAV4 range is equipped with ‘Toyota Safety Sense’, a newly developed set of active safety technologies designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions across a wide range of traffic situations.
Combining a camera and millimetre-wave radar for a high level of detection performance, the RAV4’s Toyota Safety Sense system features a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with a Pedestrian Detection function, Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Automatic High Beam (AHB) technology.
New RAV4 will continue to offer Blind Sport Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert within its safety equipment on top of newly introduced Toyota Safety Sense.
Panoramic View Monitor
A new Panoramic View Monitor uses four cameras, mounted on the underside of each door mirror, and the front and rear of the new RAV4 to display a 360 degree, bird’s-eye view of the vehicle’s immediate surroundings.
Unique to Toyota, the system may be activated to give a clear, 3D visualisation of the surroundings whilst the vehicle is still parked, before a gear is selected and the parking brake released.
The monitor can display a composite view which combines the images from any of the four cameras, as well as the path guidance lines of the Rear View Monitor system, providing an invaluable aid to parking and slow speed manoeuvring.
The system’s wide, 180 degree front and rear view screen projections allow the driver to check blind spots to the front and rear sides of the vehicle. The side cameras remain operable even when the door mirrors are retracted. And a panoramic zoom view function allows for the closer observation of nearby objects that would otherwise be difficult to see.
4.2” Multi-information Screen
The newly designed instrument binnacle of the RAV4 is equipped with a 4.2” colour TFT (Thin Film Transistor) multi-information screen. Controlled by the steering wheel switch gear, with the possibility to coordinate its display with that of the 7” full-colour centre console screen, the multi-information screen offers a wide variety of functions and displays.
These include the customisation of vehicle settings, trip computer information, Smart Stop & Start telemetry, a hybrid powertrain energy monitor, turn-by-turn navigation and real-time AWD vehicle posture and steering lock indication.
Exterior Design – Stronger, More Dynamic Image
The front of the new RAV4 reflects its stronger, more dynamic styling with a po-werful, more prominent execution of Toyota’s Under Priority and Keen Look design language.
The Toyota logo is prominently set within a slender upper grille which anchors new, Keen Look LED or halogen headlamp clusters, both of which incorporate LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) to give the new compact SUV a readily identifiable frontal signature.
The middle grille has been widened, and the lower, trapezoidal grille significantly enlarged in keeping with Toyota’s Under Priority family model styling. The extremities of both middle and lower grille combine to form deep, foglamp-housing pockets placed at the very extremities of the front bumper to emphasises the RAV4’s wide, stable front track.
The front underguard has been restyled to give it a stronger visual emphasis, reinforcing the new SUV’s rugged, off-road credentials.
To the side, a new wheel arch and rocker garnish places a cleaner, bolder emphasis on a vehicle profile further enhanced by a choice of new 17” and 18” alloy wheel designs.
The rear of the vehicle features new rear lamp clusters incorporating LED techno-logy, giving the new RAV4 a high-tech light signature. The bumper has been restyled to give it greater prominence and place a greater emphasis on the vehicle’s width and broad stance. And the rear underguard has also been redesigned to give it greater visual prominence.
The model range flagship, the RAV4 Hybrid may be identified through the use of exclusive, hybrid blue logos and ‘Hybrid’ badging, as well as model-specific 17” alloy wheels.
The new RAV4 will be available in choice of nine exterior body colours, of which two -Dark Red metallic and Blue metallic- are new.
Interior Design -Improved Sensory Quality and Functionality
The sophisticated and stylish architecture of the RAV4 interior has been enhanced to combine better functionality with greater visual harmony and consistency and improved sensory quality.
The driver’s instrument binnacle, centre console and gear lever surround console have been redesigned, the dashboard, door panel and centre armrest trims restyled, and new, more consistent, premium quality finishes adopted throughout.
The driver’s instrument binnacle now features a prestigious, twin analogue dial design incorporating a 4.2” multi-information screen. The centre console panel has been redesigned to incorporate a large, 7” multimedia system touch-screen.
The dashboard, door panel and centre armrest trims have been restyled for greater comfort and tactility, and matt black and neutral silver finishes applied throughout for improved sensory quality. Further interior visual harmonisation has been achieved through the use of consistent, blue back-lit instrument, and ambient, lighting.
An expanded range of interior colour schemes will be available, including four high grade leather upholstery choices, Beige and Grey being refreshed in colour and style while Tan being the new offer.
*Subject to final homologation
Do not miss the Toyota booth in Hall 8, stand D19.
Putting the next 100 years in motion
The Frankfurt Motor Show marks the European commercial debut of the Toyota Mirai. With the first European customers taking delivery in the coming weeks in Germany, Denmark and the UK, this is the beginning of a new era.
Through its world-leading hybrid technology, Toyota has globally popularized eco-cars, beginning with the PRIUS, that has contributed to the global environment like no other car. Yet, the severity of issues such as global warming, environmental pollution and the exhaustion of oil and other fossil fuels is increasing.
If we want to secure the future of the automobile as flexible, personal transport for the next 100 years, we need to consider which energy can power our cars tomorrow. At Toyota, we believe that various technologies will co-exist, ranging from EVs over hybrids to perhaps the most innovative of all, the fuel cell car or FCV.
Instead of gasoline, FCVs are fueled by hydrogen, an environmentally friendly energy source that can be produced from a variety of raw materials including solar and wind power, biofuel, and natural gas.
Moreover, they run using the energy generated on board by a fuel cell stack. The energy efficiency of FCVs is higher than that of gasoline engines and they conserve energy, as well.
They are zero emission vehicles, emitting only water during driving. They are as easy to use as conventional vehicles and are capable of long trips thanks to their range and refuelling time, both comparable to those of a petrol car.
With the launch of the Toyota Mirai, we take one step closer towards a “sustainable mobility society”.
While walking around the Toyota booth, Hall 8, stand D19, stop by the blue bubble area and see The Future for yourself.
TOYOTA C-HR CONCEPT
Stunning looks, exciting drive
A new C-HR Concept makes its world debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. With its diamond-shape based bold design language, an engaging full-hybrid driving experience and new platform architecture, it brings the future compact crossover one step closer to the final production model, which will be revealed at Geneva next year.
Inspired by the warm welcome that the first C-HR Concept received from you at the 2014 Paris motor show, our designers have created a second C-HR Concept. Boasting a 5-door cabin, this new design comes closer to the compact crossover which is now confirmed for production. We have collected feedback from customers, and integrated it in the improved design of the new CH-R concept that you can see today in Frankfurt.
This highly-innovative, stylish, lightweight and dynamic hybrid crossover is designed to stand out on the road.
C-HR’s compact proportions place it between the B-SUV and C-SUV segments, the concept offers the combination of outstanding agility and flexible packaging, both essential to those with urban lifestyles.
It has been designed around a new platform, developed under the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture), to satisfy the demands for state of the art handling and controllability.
A Refined Diamond Styling Theme
The new, 5-door C-HR Concept continues our exploration of an expressive new, diamond architecture styling theme. Below a compact, sensual cabin profile, the lower bodywork has been sculpted to represent the facetted surfaces of a highly-durable, precision-cut gemstone.
In plan form, the corners of the bodyshell have been cleanly shaved off. This both removes mass from the overall volume, and highlights the powerful flair of the front and rear wheel arches, reinforcing the crossover’s broad, planted stance from every viewpoint, and matching the customer’s desire for a car with a confident and sporty look.
Adding impact to the corners to further reinforce the new crossover’s solid stance and the low centre of gravity came from the new TNGA platform, the large, diamond-patterned lower grille is flanked by strongly sculpted downward projections. These powerful frontal elements are underscored by an aeroinspired, floating front spoiler.
From the side, the highly-faceted lower body, muscular wheel arches and aggressively angular rear shoulder are juxtaposed with an exceptionally sleek cabin profile. Its ‘floating’ status reinforced by a piano black paint finish, the roof is detailed with patterned openings which create a uniquely animated play of light within the C-HR Concept’s cabin space.
The ‘diamond-cut’, machined-surface spokes of a unique, 21” wheel design hint at the sophistication and efficiency of the C-HR Concept’s full-hybrid powertrain.
Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) Platform
The new C-HR Concept is a striking representation of the benefits of TNGA; an innovative, integrated vehicle development approach we introduced on new models from this year forward. Read all about it here.
A New, More Efficient Hybrid System
C-HR Concept doesn’t only stand out through its unique design. It also introduces hybrid technology to the segment. In this case, a new and more compact full-hybrid powertrain with lighter components. It reflects significant advances in battery, electric motor and petrol engine technologies, offering further reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
The C-HR Concept’s next-generation full-hybrid powertrain combines state-of-the-art battery technology with new, highly-compact electric motors offering a marked increase in power density.
A Global Project Rooted in Europe
Recognizing that Europe is the most demanding market for small and mid-sized vehicles, we use this region as benchmark for defining future global A-, B- and C-segment cars.
In the case of the C-HR Concept, there was close cooperation between our vehicle planning centres in Japan and in Europe, in order to get a good understanding of the latest European customer demands and vehicle trends. The styling of the concept car is the result of a global cooperation between ED2 (European Design Development Centre) and the other Toyota design centres.
Following the overwhelming reaction to the first TOYOTA C-HR Concept shown at the 2014 Paris Motorshow, we at Toyota Motor Europe, will continue to work hand in hand with TMC (Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan) to enter the C-Crossover segment.
Do not miss the Toyota booth in Hall 8, stand D19.
Trend: Powertrain shift: 85% of all worlds’ automotive patents are issued in alternative powertrains with Hybrids having the biggest share
Trend Leader: Toyota with 26% of the world’s patents
A recent study conducted by the Germany’s Center of Automotive Management (CAM) at the University of Applied Scienses FHDW, has spotted a persisting trend in the automotive industry’s patents issued by carmakers: conventional internal combustion engines research has stagnated over the years, whereas research on the alternative (or shall we say the “new mainstream”) Hybrid and EV powertrains has moved to the leading position in the research volume.
Each year at TME we hold Petrolheads & Passion event for all car lovers who would like to showcase their four-wheeled gems.
This could well be the first question on your lips when you hear that our Mirai fuel cell vehicle is powered by hydrogen. Here’s our answer
The quick answer: “Most definitely YES!”
Toyota, of course, only releases a car into the market that is totally safe. The Mirai is no exception. Over the last decade, hundreds of Mirai test cars have been thoroughly road tested, crash tested and safety tested. They have racked up millions of kilometres over all sorts of demanding terrains. They have been put through their paces in the cold of northern Finland and the heat of southern Spain. Their hydrogen fuel tanks have even been shot at by high-velocity weapons.
The result? The Mirai has passed all the tests with flying colours. It’s as safe as any other Toyota vehicle. The fact that it is powered by hydrogen has absolutely no effect on its inherent safety.
The long answer
Let’s unpack the short answer to look at three aspects of a hydrogen powered car like the Mirai that relate to safety: the car, the refuelling process, and the gas itself.
THE CAR: Tough fuel tanks and highly sensitive hydrogen sensors
The hydrogen that powers the Mirai is stored at a high pressure of 700 bar in two compact, lightweight tanks. We have been working on their design in-house since 2000 and are more than satisfied with their strength and safety levels.
Their main source of strength originates from the carbon fibre shell. Over that is a glass fibre layer. Should the car be involved in an accident, any resulting damage to the hydrogen tank will be clearly visible on this layer. Tests can then be carried out to evaluate if the carbon shell itself is compromised. The glass fibre does not contribute to rigidity of the tank, but gives absolute confidence of its integrity. The whole tank is lined with plastic to seal in the hydrogen.
As mentioned above, the tanks have been subjected to extremely severe testing. They are designed to withstand up to 225% of their operating pressure, which is clearly a very comfortable safety margin.
In the improbable event of a leak, the Mirai contains highly sensitive sensors that detect minute amounts of hydrogen. These are placed in strategic locations for instantaneous detection of hydrogen. In the extremely unlikely event of a leak in the fuel system, the sensors immediately shut down the safety valves and the vehicle itself.
As a third layer of safety, the cabin is strictly separated from the hydrogen compartment to prevent penetration of any leaking hydrogen, which would instead gradually disperse into the atmosphere.
THE REFUELLING PROCESS: International safety standards in place
Refuelling is a critical process because it involves human action, which unfortunately can lead to unforeseen and unsafe scenarios, like trying to drive off while the fuel nozzle is still connected to the car. For this reason a number of safety precautions have been put in place.
First, the nozzle at the end of the hydrogen dispenser’s flexible hose contains a mechanical lock to ensure optimal connection with the car’s filling inlet. Unless this mechanical lock clicks into place securely, filling will not commence.
Secondly, a pressure impulse checks for any leakage in the system between the filling station and the car. If a leak is detected, refuelling is aborted.
Thirdly, the rate of filling is carefully regulated, to avoid overheating during transfer. Temperature sensors located in the car’s hydrogen tanks, the nozzle and the pump constantly communicate with each other by infrared to control the rate of flow of hydrogen into the car so that the temperature rise is not excessive.
The internationally applicable standards SAE J2601, SAE J2799 and ISO 17268 establish safety limits and performance requirements for gaseous hydrogen fuel dispensers. The criteria include maximum fuel temperature at the dispenser nozzle, the maximum fuel flow rate and the maximum rate of pressure increase.
By the way, if you try and drive off in your Mirai while the fuel nozzle is attached to the car, you won’t succeed! The car’s ignition is disconnected until you have replaced the nozzle in its holster and closed the car’s fuel cap. To be absolutely sure, a redundant safety system is embedded in the hose and locks the pump if a car would pull the hose too hard when driving off in the middle of refuelling.
THE GAS: Using the lightest element in the universe has its benefits
Hydrogen is the lightest thing known to man and considerably (14x) lighter than air. The consequence is that should a leak occur, the hydrogen will rise into the atmosphere. And thanks to its status as ‘’smallest molecule ‘’ in the universe, it disperses quickly in air and any gas.
The advantage of this is clearly illustrated in gunfire tests conducted on a hydrogen tank. When the hydrogen ignites it appears as a localized jet flame, which is much safer than an accumulation of gas that could suddenly explode.
Finally, the Mirai’s tanks have a pressure relief device that releases the hydrogen gradually in case the temperature should rise abnormally (like in a fire). This prevents any overpressure or explosion; far from the stereotype of a hydrogen explosion. Moreover, the resulting fire leaves much of the car undamaged.
Hydrogen is as safe as any other fuel used in a car. It’s been used as an energy carrier for decades, and there is a vast amount of cumulative know-how and experience in Toyota and elsewhere to handle it safely.
Furthermore, it is a carbon-free, non-hazardous energy source that can be produced from many renewable resources and emits no greenhouse gases when used as a fuel.
No wonder that “mirai” is a Japanese word meaning “future.”