Toyota Motor Corp. announced Tuesday it will launch hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in Japan on December 15, becoming the world's first carmaker to sell such cars in the market.
Using hydrogen as fuel to generate electricity, the Mirai, which means future in Japanese, achieves superior environmental performance with the convenience and driving pleasure expected of any car, Toyota said in a press release.
The world's largest automaker also said it will start selling the Mirai in the US and Europe next summer. The four-door Mirai sedan will retail for JPY 7.24 million (USD 63,000), with the government planning to subsidize about JPY 2 million for each buyer. Toyota aims to sell 400 units in Japan by the end of 2015, and 300 in the rest of the world in the first year.
According to the automaker, the Mirai can cruse 650 kilometers and hydrogen refueling time takes about three minutes.
Fuel cell vehicles are able to generate their own electricity from hydrogen, which can be generated using a wide range of natural resources and man-made byproducts such as sewage sludge. It can also be created from water using natural renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. When compressed, it has a higher energy density than batteries, and is relatively easy to store and transport.
"The fuel cell vehicle will become mainstream. Toyota hopes to help make a hydrogen-based society," Toyota Executive Vice President Mitsuhisa Kato told a press conference. On Monday, Honda Motor Co. also announced a fuel-cell concept car.