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Can Toyota's Mirai be the next Prius?

  • Magazine Feature Article
  • 14AUTD12_02
Published December 02, 2014 by SAE International in United States
  • English

Toyota's first fuel-cell car has a range of 300 miles, fills up in 5 minutes, and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about 9 seconds.

A decade and a half ago, low gasoline prices and rebounding car sales did nothing to stop Toyota from introducing its fuel-saving Prius hybrid-electric vehicle. During those years the Prius, whose name means “to go before,” pioneered an entirely new green-car category while it burnished the company's environmental credentials. Hybrid-electric propulsion has now gone fully mainstream, with total U.S. sales of hybrids topping 3 million in late 2013.

Today, with fuel prices sagging and auto sales rising, the Japanese carmaker is again attempting to open up a whole new green-car segment with its first hydrogen fuel-cell production vehicle, the Mirai. Whether the Mirai, which means “future” in Japanese, presages Prius-like success is hotly debated.