Limited range may have been one of the key factors putting environmentally-conscious car buyers off electric cars – with several models not capable of breaking the 100-mile mark per charge in the real world – but Toyota’s new hydrogen Mirai should be able to cover around 300 miles.
In official American economy tests the Mirai returned a range figure of 312 miles per tank – beating all its zero-emission rivals – with hydrogen consumption weighing in at 80.5mpg. Despite this achievement, the Mirai does lag behind the most economical petrol and diesel models – a number of which can cover close to 1,000 miles per fill up.
The first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to go on to the market – in the USA at least – the Mirai is powered by electricity generated by mixing hydrogen and oxygen, a process which creates water vapour. The Mirai has been launched this summer in Japan and California, though it won’t arrive in the UK and other European markets until later in the year.
Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered ix35 Fuel Cell, however, has already gone on sale in the UK, becoming the first hydrogen model to be available on our shores, weighing in at just over £53,000 after £14,880 of European subsidies.
While hydrogen cars may be in their advent, sales of conventional electric cars are finally starting to take off, with more than 11,000 electric or hybrid models finding homes in the first five months of 2015.
Central to the take-up of hydrogen cars is the provision of hydrogen filling stations, with just five refilling points set to be in place around London by the end of the year. As with electric car charging points, which have increased in number as more zero-emission models have gone on sale, a network of top-up points should start to build as more hydrogen models become available.