Fuel Cell Vehicles of 2016: Toyota Mirai vs. Hyundai Tucson


Whether America is ready or not, there will be two fuel cell vehicles available to consumers in 2015. While questions linger about the actual green benefits of hydrogen cars and just 8 public fueling stations exist in the target markets, Californians have a choice to make if you’re lucky enough to find a fuel cell vehicle on the agenda. Here is a look at the Toyota Mirai versus the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell on paper.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

There are already a limited number of Honda FCX Clarity and Hyundai fuel cell cars on the road in California. While both were available in limited numbers on lease-only terms, the Honda has discontinued the current model as it prepares to launch a second hydrogen car in 2016. By contrast, Hyundai has leased 68 models of the 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell since June 2014, the most of any hydrogen car to date, according to Green Car Reports. Consumers can now sign up to be part of the lottery for the 2016 Tucson Fuel Cell.

David McNew/Getty Images
David McNew/Getty Images

According to the automaker, the 2016 model features a proton exchange membrane and the total output is 134 horsepower and 221 pounds-feet of torque. Using a single-speed transmission, it can hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 12.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 100 miles per hour. Total range is 265 miles, the equivalent of the best electric vehicles on the road. When you need more juice, it’s time for a fill-up at one of the 8 public hydrogen stations in California, which takes about 10 minutes, according to reports from drivers.

Because of the limited fueling infrastructure and the lack of service stations familiar with the technology, Hyundai has chosen to offer the Tucson Fuel Cell only in parts of Southern California by lease for 36 months at $499 per month with $2,999 due at signing. Fuel and maintenance are included in that price for the duration of the term. Clean vehicle rebates of $5,000 are available. The fuel cell version has the same dimensions (173.6 inches by 71.7 inches and 65.2 inches in height) and nearly all the cargo space of the gasoline Tucson crossover.

The Toyota Mirai, which will be available for purchase in 2015, is different in several ways.

Source: Toyota
Source: Toyota

2016 Toyota Mirai

The most obvious difference between the two cars is the sedan form of the Mirai. Nonetheless, Toyota’s fuel cell vehicle is longer at 192.5 inches while slightly less wide (71.5 inches) and considerably lower in height (60.4 inches). It uses a solid polymer electrolyte fuel cell stack and can generate 153 horsepower and 247 pounds-feet of torque, hitting 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 9.0 seconds and a top speed of 111 miles per hour. All power specs are an improvement over the Tucson’s.

Mirai can cover up to 300 miles of range on full tanks of hydrogen before needing a fill-up, 35 miles better than the Tucson. Like Hyundai, Toyota will only offer the Mirai in California, though it has Northern California (San Francisco, San Jose) on the map as well as Orange County and other areas around Los Angeles. A total of eight dealerships will offer the Mirai for purchase at $57,500 and on a 36-month lease at $499 per month ($3,649 due at signing) starting in fall 2015. Buyers and lessees can take advantage of the $5,000 clean energy incentive.

Both automakers hope the plans for hydrogen fueling infrastructure to continue as planned, as the California Fuel Cell Partnership hopes to have 100 stations up and running by 2016. Meanwhile, efforts to increase the amount of renewables used to produce hydrogen fuel continue, as officials hope to have 46% sourced from renewables by the end of 2015.

While the technology is by no means in place and just two 2016 hydrogen cars are hitting the road this year, fuel cell vehicles are making a legitimate debut. Advances in fuel production and station infrastructure may hold the keys to their early success, as will the ability of automakers to offer affordable products in the coming years. We’ll keep you posted.