Toyota will launch its Hydrogen Fuel Cell-powered Mirai in Europe this September and the first production models have already landed.
The Japanese marque will launch the new EV in the UK, Germany and Denmark, which all have suitable hydrogen fuel cell supply and retail infrastructures in place. The Mirai generates electricity from Hydrogen, which inevitably means it produces no noxious emissions, but it is somewhat surprising to see Toyota bring the car to Europe.
In recent years, battery power has taken over as the prevalent green source and Hydrogen power looked in danger of becoming the Betamax of green power. Honda has recently committed to producing Hydrogen cars, though, and Toyota, which has the best-selling plug-in hybrid with the Prius, clearly sees a future for the gas too.
It is a massively limited test run, though, as the whole of Europe will receive just 700 cars and at £56,000 in the UK, early adopters will have to pay for the privilege of being different.
Mirai means ‘future’ in Japanese and it certainly looks the part, thanks largely to the two monumental air scoops on the front end that feed the hydrogen fuel cells. The styling is awkward from some angles, but there is no doubt that the Mirai will stand out wherever it goes and that will be enough for some to shell out the price of admission.
It’s a big car, at 4.9m long, but it needs the space to house all this technology. The electric motor is mounted transversely in the engine bay while the Fuel Cell stack lies under the front seats, while the fuel cell booster sits on the front of the stack. It produces 3.1kW/L, which equates to 153bhp in old money, which is hardly earth shattering, but the 247lb/ft of torque is more impressive.
Performance is not the name of the Mirai’s game, which is hardly surprising when you consider it weighs in at more than1850kg. But it will hit 60mph in 9.6s, top out at 111mph and run for 300 miles before it needs fresh supplies of Hydrogen.
The Mirai may yet be a gamechanger for Toyota, if Hydrogen power can gain momentum in Europe. The Japanese manufacturer clearly believes it will as it is looking to sell up to 3000 cars on the continent in 2017, but only time will tell if the buying public sees the future the same way.
Hyundai Hits Record High
Sales of the Sonata LF sedan have hit a record high in the United States, more than doubling year-on-year and reaching a new monthly high in July.
The Korean manufacturer sold 22,109 of the mid-size saloon in July, up 159% compared to 2014 and a 66% spike on the previous month’s sales. The recent launch of the 2016 model helped drive sales, but the Sonata has been a solid seller since it launched in May 2014, with an average monthly volume of 13,000 units.
With a retail price of just $21,950, or lease prices of $256 a month, the Sonata LF is one of the most cost-effective cars in its class. It’s also elegant and restrained when it comes to the design, which means it has attracted a number of conservative buyers who are not swayed by the fussy designs offered by a number of modern alternatives.
A 1.6-litre Eco model, a hybrid, a 2-litre turbo and a 2.4-litre naturally aspirated model give plenty of engine options and the suspension and steering have all won praise from the American motoring press. In short the Sonata is a good, budget car with the traditional Korean approach that includes a good deal of equipment as standard.
The Sonata has become the fifth most popular midsize sedan in the US, which Hyundai considers a major success. The Tucson compact SUV launches this month and along with the new Elantra and the Genesis, which remains the company’s most popular car in the US by far, the Korean manufacturer, it should help it secure an even greater market share.
Hyundai sold 71,013 cars in total in July, with its market share increasing 0.1% to 4.7%, which is a solid performance for a relative fledgling in one of the toughest markets in the world.