Toyota is taking hydrogen-powered cars from the experimental, into the mainstream.
Toyota, who along with Honda, Audi, and Hyundai has been experimenting with HFC cars for the better part of a decade, finally has a production model ready to go. Called the 2016 Toyota Mirai (which is "future" in Japanese), the new car will be the automaker's first mass-production hydrogen-powered car.
Hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars like the Mirai work in the same way as electric cars, meaning the motor driving the wheels is electric. The process of producing that electricity is different, of course, as there's no bank of batteries storing power collected from the plug in your garage. Instead, the car gets its juice from the electricity produced when the hydrogen (stored in Kevlar-coated tanks) is combined with oxygen. Electricity powers the car, and the byproduct of the reaction is harmless water vapor.
The Mirai, which will be shown off further during the LA Auto Show, will have a 300-mile range, with a five-minute hydrogen refuel time. Toyota says the fuel cell used in the Mirai could theoretically power a small home for about a week.
While the environmentally conscious will cheer for the Mirai, there's still the issue of refueling the car -- you can't just go down to the local Shell station to top off the tank. But the hydrogen fuel stations will come, as California (which already has nine locations) plans to build nearly 50 new stations over the next two years. Toyota will be building its own stations in New England, New Jersey, and New York.