When most people hear the words “car accident,” they visualize crumpled metal, broken glass, and tow trucks. No sane person would think of a car wetting itself. At least, not until recently.
The Toyota Mirai runs on hydrogen, a newer innovation in eco-friendly vehicles. Their only byproduct is water. The technology and design are undoubtedly sophisticated, but the necessity of “flushing” the car has some laughing — and asking important questions. Like, can you drink what drips out of the tailpipe?
The Toyota Mirai: From 2014 to 2021
Although the 2021 Toyota Mirai has been dominating headlines, the hydro-powered vehicle was even more revolutionary when it debuted in 2014. The first few hundred off the production line began selling in Japan in December that year — a perfect Christmas present if you had $57,600 on hand.
The Guardian noted the challenges Toyota would face in introducing a new line of vehicles lacking familiarity and large-scale infrastructure to support refueling. Though hydrogen cell power is still far from the new normal, consumers seem open to the idea and eagerly anticipate the second-generation Mirai’s release.
Early reviews have been positive. MotorTrend‘s test drive pointed out one of the most obvious changes. The original model’s clunkiness suffered for its cool fuel source. But the 2021 version gives the best of both worlds, trading in its previous design for a wider, lower, and more sports-like body. Beyond aesthetics, the Mirai also boasts a roomier cabin and an extra seat.
Per Toyota, the Mirai has also shifted to rear-wheel drive. It boasts 182 hp and 221 lb-ft torque — impressive specs when you consider this car runs on water and air.
The Toyota Mirai generates one cup of water per mile
So, how exactly do these hydrogen cells work? The secret begins with tanked hydrogen, CNBC reports. Unlike fully electric vehicles, Mirai models and similar rides don’t need recharging. Instead, they’re pumped full of pressurized hydrogen. This so-called fuel mixes with oxygen in the air to generate electricity and power the car. Notably, this process creates no harmful byproducts — just water.
MotorTrend reports the Toyota Mirai produces about one cup of water per mile. Drivers can evacuate the water by pushing a button on the dashboard. Or they can allow the car to release it naturally — a fairly common phenomenon because the Mirai’s storage capacity is only about a liter of water. Perhaps most exciting, the expelled water is perfectly safe to drink, according to the folks at MotorTrend. Their only reservation was the cleanliness of the under-vehicle tailpipe from which the water emerged.
The bottom line? You could find a cheaper water bottle, but this is a pretty cool way to welcome the future.
Hydrogen power could be a large-scale eco-solution
Hydrogen fuel cells have faced their share of criticism. EV pioneer Elon Musk has been one of the most outspoken. With hydrogen fuel stations based primarily in California, it’s hard to imagine the trend spreading across the entire country.
Still, Toyota has affirmed its dedication to the hydrogen cause. The automaker is working to influence legislation that will incentivize eco-friendly vehicle purchases and gain funding to create more widespread hydrogen stations. The decision to release thousands of patents will also speed up the design’s industry-wide adoption.
The Toyota Mirai isn’t the cure for climate change by any means. As the Guardian notes, it takes fossil fuels to pressurize the hydrogen. Still, the future looks bright for this tech. After just two generations, the Mirai is in a class of its H2Own.