Toyota Mirai vs 2016 Chevy Volt


miraivolt (2)

Break on through to the other side.. of GHG emissions

It is often said that the best comparison to a fuel cell vehicle (FCV) is to that of a plug in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), or better still, an extended range electric vehicle (EREV), like the Chevy Volt. Why?

As we know, the Chevy Volt is one of the only plug in hybrids that can operate as a pure EV, regardless of vehicle speed or throttle position. The plug in Prius can not do that. As such, this gives the Volt the ability to compete when it comes to reduced GHG emissions. So, with the introduction of the Toyota Mirai, this is a comparison that is just dying to be made. When we look at future technologies, we sometimes get lost in the theory. This head-to-head comparison brings it home.



The MY2016 Chevy Volt gets 106 MPGe for the first 50 miles making up the majority of driving needs accessing the common 120V electric outlet. After that, the Volt utilizes the 100,000 US fueling station infrastructure to completely eliminate range anxiety at 42 MPG for an additional 370 miles, for a combined total of 420 miles. The Volt stats indicate that trips outside of 50 miles are under 3%. This is based on over a billion Volt miles driven.

Toyota Mirai gets EPA rating of 67 MPGe with 312 miles total range. Currently the Mirai is confined to either California or the Northeast where there are plans for a total of 68 stations in the US through 2016.

Fuel time:
The Volt charges in 13 hours on a 120V circuit and 4.5 hours on 240V. This time is generally absorbed while sleeping or during work hours. Charge time comparisons are often made between the FCV and a pure electric BEV to point out limitations in long distance travel. For an EREV like the Volt, you are always ready to go with a stop at your local gas station for another 370 miles. The Volt daily charge cycle reduces the overall stops for fueling, thus requiring by far the least amount of time for fueling/charging.

The Mirai is stated to have a 3 minute fuel time. You do however have to consider the time it takes to get to your nearest hydrogen station and the time it takes to get back to your destination for up to 300 mile range between hydrogen stations.

Interior space:
Though the specs differ, the Mirai  has an edge on leg room and a clear advantage on height by four inches. Toyota has yet to publish the cargo volume. The Mirai has 4 seats. The 2016 Volt is 4+1.

The Volt has 294 lb-ft of torque combined with 149 hp, and a 3543 lb curb weight, providing 0-30 in 2.6 seconds and 0-60 in 8.4 seconds. Top speed 98 mph.

Mirai has 247 lb-ft of torque combined with 153 hp, and a 4078 lb curb weight, providing 25-44 in 3 seconds, 0-62 mph in 9.6 seconds. Top speed 111 mph.

Green House Gas Emissions:
Who is the greenest? The answer varies depending on driving patterns and energy sources. We will attempt to help describe the differences in GHGs using calculations provided by George Bower.

silver Volt (2)

Chevy Volt driven on ICE @ 41 mpg provides ________ 264 g/mile
Chevy Volt driven on current grid mix _______________244 g/mile
Chevy Volt driven on EPA recommended grid ________ 171 g/mile
Chevy Volt driven on EV mode offset by solar __________ 0 g/mile
Toyota Mirai driven on steam reformed hydrogen _____ 245 g/mile
Toyota Mirai driven on 30% renewable methane ______ 172 g/mile

Currently, Chevy Volt owners have driven 1,118,791,093 miles with 698,881,995 electric miles or 62% electric. The 62/38% mix is used in the four Volt comparisons of GHGs produced over 12,500 miles.


Toyota Mirai driven on steam reformed hydrogen ______ 3,063 kg
Toyota Mirai driven on 30% renewable methane _______ 2,150 kg
Chevy Volt driven on current electrical grid ___________ 3,145 kg
Chevy Volt driven on EPA recommended  grid _________2,579 kg
Chevy Volt driven on current grid + solar adopters _____ 1,878 kg
Chevy Volt driven on solar offset renewable energy ____ 1,254 kg

Getting at the actual number comparison is quite complex, but the computations above are revealing. At first glance, a Volt running 12,500 miles on the current grid mix compared to the Mirai running on the current steam reformed hydrogen look comparable at (3,063 kg to 3,145 kg). The glaring error in the Volt number is the large number of solar adopters that are offsetting the GHGs. Also, California is requiring 30% renewable methane from water treatment facilities and other methane generating operations, lowering  the footprint for the Mirai. If future hydrogen use is offset by 30% renewable methane, it will still fail to miss the current 30% blend of solar adopters combined with the current US grid mix giving (2,150 kg to 1,878 kg). In fact, a solar offset EREV trumps everything environmentally other than a solar offset BEV.

Looking forward, the EPA has recommended coal reductions in the current electric grid mix. The above numbers are based on earlier 38 mile AER Volts. The MY2016 50 mile AER will move the Volt toward a 70/30% AER mix. Combine that with a rising number of solar adopters, as well as citizens paying a small percentage more on their power bill to purchase green energy, and the Volt keeps trending toward more GHG reductions.

With the majority of hydrogen being supplied by companies like Shell, BP, and Exxon, it is likely that we see substantial amounts of natural gas recovered by hydraulic fracturing as 70% of the reforming agent of hydrogen for decades to come.

The Chevy Volt provides 8 year/100,000 mile warranty on the Voltaic system, which includes the battery, inverter, right down to the Level 1 EVSE. The Chevy Volt provides 3 year Onstar coverage. In CARB states, the Votaic system warranty is 10 year/150,000 mile and in most  CARB states 15 year/150,000 miles on emission related parts.
The Toyota Marai provides 8 year/100,000 mile coverage for the hydrogen fuel cell components. The Toyota Mirai includes 3 year Safety Connect including hydrogen station map app.  Also CARB state compliant.

Cost of Ownership:
The MY2016 Volt MSRP is $33,995. In California after state and federal tax incentives of $9,000, the base is potentially reduced to $24,995

The Mirai MSRP is $57,500. In California, after state and federal incentives of $13,000, the base price is reduced to potentially $45,500

The Toyoa Mirai also provides complimentary hydrogen fuel for 3 years. In the 12,500 mile comparison, this is equivalent to $1,800 in fuel savings over the Chevy Volt using the Volt stats average of 62/38% mix for the first 3 years. After that, this average combination of electric and gas will make the Chevy Volt more economic to operate annually in the remaining years.

Toyota Mirai - CHAdeMO Outlet In Trunk

Toyota Mirai – CHAdeMO Outlet In Trunk

The Toyota Mirai gets the win on this clever feature supplying up to 9 kWDC power from the car (via CHAdeMO) to the external inverter (an optional power take off (PTO) device), which will turn it to AC and enable the car to power electrical appliances or maybe even a whole house.
With a full tank of hydrogen, Mirai should be able to provide approx. 60 kWh of energy. The Chevy Volt’s design lends itself easily to this capability, so how about it GM? The Mirai will always have the advantage here due to no release of carbon monoxide in the process.

We give safety a tie. Past Chevy Volt models have received a five star safety rating. With over a billion miles driven on the Chevy Volt, the minimal number of safety related incidents has lived up to this rating. On fires: The last reported US data show 90 fires per billion miles for all light weight vehicles. With the Chevy Volt reporting only 3 fires in their first billion, this is most impressive.

Toyota Mirai, we are giving you a tie, though you have a lot to live up to on this one.

Range Anxiety vs Range Confinement:
When it comes to the Marai, you are tied to the pump: both the location of the pump and the quality of the fuel at the pump. Driving California interstate corridor will soon be FCV accessible, but maybe not a round trip adventure to visit the Sequoia National Park. Convenience?  For California, there are 20 public hydrogen stations, with plans for 28 more through 2016, and possibly 75 by 2020. Unlike an EV that charges 90% at home, one must make regular commitments to these locations. If compared to the 16,000 California gas stations, one can see that FCVs are still targeting densely populated areas with some degree of confinement.

To be clear, range anxiety is for BEVs. PHEVs like the Chevy Volt do not have range anxiety. Why? The Volt can be fueled from multiple sources. From the 100,000 US fueling stations, to the household outlet, to the public EVSE , but most importantly from 100% clean electricity from the ever growing solar PV installations. Not only do you have total freedom WHERE you charge/pump, you have the choice to charge at home with 100% CO2 free electricity from your own solar PV panels. Imagine covering 60% or more of your Volt’s fuel for 25+ years for around $4,000, or even less for DIY solar?

On range, economy, fuel time, performance, GHG emissions, cost of ownership, and driving freedom, the Chevy Volt is the clear winner. This comparison gives some insight to Elon Musk’s comments that the choice will be obvious. Even if we subsidize staggering amounts of money for hydrogen stations in order to match the convenience of the existing infrastructure of 100,000 fueling stations, and the MSRP is brought down to match, pure FCVs will not be able to compete with the reduced fuel time or the annual fuel cost savings offset by charging of an EREV. There also is no clear path for FCVs to have less GHG emissions than a 50 mile EREV like the Chevy Volt.  Toyota has declared hydrogen to be the future and has hailed the release of the Mirai  (translate – future). We now have the opportunity for a head-to-head comparison.

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94 responses to "Toyota Mirai vs 2016 Chevy Volt"
  1. Ziv says:

    The Volt is superior to the Mirai in nearly every way, but the one shortcoming is why I probably won’t get another Volt. The Volt is just too small for me. I know, it is a compact car, but it is a SMALL compact car inside! I have been following the Volt since 2007/2008 and want it to succeed in a big way.

    I just wish it worked a bit better for me. Sorry to be a buzz kill, but I know GM reads these boards and I hope they are taking this sort of feedback into account. I really like just about everything about the Gen II Volt, but I drive with 3 passengers in my car every week and I am tired of nearly pinning my belly to the steering wheel to make room for the passenger behind me. Yeah, that is an exaggeration, but it isn’t comfortable.

    And hydrogen will still be a fool cell when you look at the big picture…

    1. Speculawyer says:

      GM really does need to put the Voltec drivetrain into more cars. They did add the ELR but that was a TERRIBLE choice. Yeah, as if grandpa that watches Fox news all day wants to buy a gussied up Volt. They need to build Voltec based SUVs, mini-vans, pick-ups, wagons, etc. Start with a small crossover.

      1. kdawg says:

        Until I sit in the back of a Mirai, I won’t trust dimensions from manufacturers. They can pretty much say whatever they want.

        1. Scramjett says:


    2. EVer says:

      Volt is not small at all

      1. Ziv says:

        EV, my friends and clients would beg to differ. The Volts wheelbase and length aren’t small, but the backseats are. I knew going in that the car was smaller than what I wanted and I am glad I got the Volt and supported the electrification of cars, but I wish I could get an EREV with at least as much rear seat room as a Honda Civic. It has an inch more headroom and two inches more legroom. That would be enough to satisfy me.

        1. LuStuccc says:

          AnD the round trimming of the dash all the way from door to door make its inside space tighter.

      2. Nix says:

        Compared with the typical car most places outside of the US, the Volt indeed is not small at all. Compared to the median passenger car sold in the US, it is still is around average. For people that are the average height and weight of Americans back in the 1940’s, it isn’t a small car.

        Compared to the SUV’s and full-size American cars many families have grown used to, it is indeed small. For super-sized modern Americans, and for folks taller than the median height, it is small.

        Small is like gas mileage: YSMV (Your Small May Vary).

        1. Ziv says:

          I have a friend who is 5’1″ and she is the one drafted to sit behind me when there are 4 of us out in my car. She can’t get into the car if I have my seat back in my usual position. Can’t get in.
          That is small. I don’t care if Japanese people fit into a K car with vaseline and a shoe horn, I want my friends to be comfortable. Americans are taller than most Asian people and we are taller than most europeans other than the Dutch and the Danes.
          Until car makers build a roomy compact car, say the size of a Honda Civic or Fit, there are going to be a lot of us that simply won’t fit comfortably in them. And a mid-size car would be even better for a lot of us.

    3. MrEnergyCzar says:

      You can drive twice as far on a dollar of fuel in the Volt vs. the Mirai and it will always be that way. No miracles.

    4. abc123 says:

      Get the Mitsu Outlander PHEV or the RVR PHEV when it comes out in 2016 and 2017 respectively. They are pretty much the same as the Volt (range wise) but in a much bigger package.

      1. Nix says:

        The Mitsubishi will likely only get EPA rated at around half the range of the Volt. Still a good choice, but we should keep expectations realistic.

      2. Sivad says:

        I’m still amazed at how many people still don’t understand the differences between the Volt and every other PHEV on the market.

        If you compare the EPA ranges for the 2016 Volt vs. The Outlander the Volt will get double the pure EV range.

        Also the Volt puts out 150 hp in EV mode while the Mitsu because of the smaller battery is only able to output 94 hp in EV mode. Add that the Mitsu weighs 400 lbs more than the 16 Volt and that performance deficit grows. Although the Mitsu does have more room their drivetrains are very different.

    5. Del Surette says:

      I agree. I am 6’6″ and when I tried to drive the volt, my knees interfered with steering wheel. Great car, great technology, try to make it bigger inside!

  2. Lustuccc says:

    I consider almost all article about the fool cells are near trolling…

    Now if you could see, just by hovering the name of ANY congressman on ANY web page a glimpse of the origin of his funding, you would be (not so much) surprised that “Oil and GAS” comes at the top of the list of too many politicians.

    So this extension I have for my browser does just that, I find it very convenient.

    I see this little tool as indirectly related to all articles on green car sites, and therefore, my comment is not trolling 🙂

    (no viruses, no catch)

  3. davidw says:

    Thanks for the article. It’s nice to see the GHG emission numbers and how they consider differenc sources. In another posting concerning the Mirai, I was trying to explain to a commenter how hydrogen is not “clean” because of all the processing, shipping, etc. that is required. While not all electricy is “clean” at this time, solar and wind generated electricity is growing every day. As the generation of electricity gets cleaner, the GHG numbers get better and better for PHEV and all electric vehicles.

    1. jmollard says:

      I agree, a great article as it fairly compares many details and clearly concludes how much better a plugin vehicle can be. Please do this comparison again with the Model S, as it will be telling of the Model 3 to come which will be more price in line with the Mirai. I used to love the idea of fuel cells – H2 + O makes power and water, simple and clean. And Ballard is in my home town of Vancouver. But as long as the reality is making H2 continues to be a fossel fuel industry, it will not be much better than what we have today. If science figures out how to split water using the same energy as recombining H2 + O provides, then I’m back on board with FCVs. Then water will essentially become an endless supply of “battery”. Until then, our best bet still remains Lithium Ion.

  4. Ash09 says:

    The Volt wins hands down by default for me. The reason?

    Aside from being more affordable, I can buy one here in the Midwest, and fill it up as well if needed.

    I can’t buy the Mirai anytime soon here. And even if I smuggled one back home, I’d have no way to fill it up once the hydrogen runs out.

    Heck, I can’t even buy a Plug-in Prius without jumping through hoops and hurdles to get one shipped here, or fly to a state that sells them, then drive it home. For that kind of hassle, I might as well just go with a Volt if I want a PHEV.

  5. Nix says:

    Great analysis! Although if I were to nit-pick, I would have to point out that the story goes back and forth between comparing GEN II 2016 Volt stats, and historic 2011-2015 GEN I Volt numbers.

    As long as folks understand that the GEN II 2016 Volt is supposed to beat the 2011-2015 historical numbers, I have absolutely no problem with doing that. There isn’t any real world numbers for the 2016 yet, so the historic numbers are better than just mathematical extrapolations.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      Fair point in that they mixed the old & new Volt. But even if you just stick with the old Volt, it is a terrible outcome for the Mirai.

      FCVs definitely do have an advantage over pure EVs in that you can refuel them much faster. But when you throw PHEVs into the mix, the FCVs just seem kinda pointless when there is already a huge gasoline infrastructure out there.

      1. Nix says:

        Exactly. When the new 2016 Volt actual driving history data is someday available, the numbers are likely to be even better for the Volt in comparison.

  6. Nix says:

    I’ve done some basic googling, but I can’t find where GM has officially released the price of the 2016 Volt. Can anybody point me in the right direction?

    1. Ziv says:

      GM probably won’t release the price until this summer. But the Gen II was designed from the ground up to be as inexpensive to produce as possible and the battery is just 1.3 kWh larger than the 2015’s pack. They are selling 2015’s, apparently profitably, at $33k, so I am guessing the Gen II will have an MSRP at that point or lower.

      If the MSRP is at $29,995 they will probably sell quite a few Volts. If the MSRP is $33k, they will have a couple good months and then sales will tank.

      1. Nix says:

        That sounds about right. I only ask because the price is listed in the “Specifications” table. Maybe those are all 2015 Volt specs? I don’t know enough about the 2015 to be able to tell. It says it seats 5 though. Maybe a mix of 2015 and 2016 specs and prices?

        1. Ziv says:

          I hadn’t noticed that. I think Mark plugged in the current MSRP, but you never know. I don’t think anyone knows the Gen II MSRP yet, but I have been known to assume when I shouldn’t. 😉

          1. Mark Hovis says:

            Yes, I corrected for clarity. No MY2016 pricing available. With both companies releasing the majority of specs it seemed appropriate for this group to begin the disection.

            1. Ziv says:

              I like the way Insideevs do their best to make info as accurate as possible and the way they do it in a transparent manner. I have seen other websites get touchy or defensive in similar situations.
              Kudos, Mark!

            2. mike w says:

              I thought the Mira was lease only. Maybe fair to compare the lease prices of both since the Toyota will only be available via lease

            3. Nix says:

              I love insideEV. Thanks so much for the clarifications in the story. Makes so much more sense now!

              I totally understand using as much of the 2016 data as possible, and filling in what we don’t know yet with 2015 and earlier data where we have that data. It gives real world validity behind the Volt numbers, even though expectations for the 2016 Volt are even higher than what we’ve already seen.

  7. Aaron says:

    Where is the g/mile for the Mirai based on current hydrogen production? You know, the hydrogen produced during gasoline production.

    Also, the Volt is a PHEV, not an EREV. We’ve been over this 1000 times. Maybe you should compare it against an EREV like the i3. The results could be interesting.

    1. Thomas J. Thias says:

      No Aaron, We’ve been over this 1000 times and I am prepared to go over it 1000 more times with you.

      PHEV: Tiny to minimal Traction Battery. Uses Gas Traction Motor any time to assist in demand response regardless of battery SOC.

      EREV – GM Voltec- Electric Drive Motors MGb/MGa run strictly off Traction Battery regardless of speed or acceleration demand at all times as default, until Traction Battery lower SOC threshold has been reached. Frigid weather exception explained below-

      This time lets bring in Steve Hanley, Writer and Site Director for Important Media, Gas 2.0, Green Building Elements, EcoWorldly and EcoLocalizer. Avid Formula One fan.

      “Unlike virtually all other hybrid and plug in hybrid cars, the gasoline engine in the Chevy Volt does not switch on until the charge in the battery is depleted.

      That means that the car operates solely on electric power even if the driver tromps hard on the accelerator for maximum acceleration.

      Most other hybrids and plug in cars call upon the engine to make a contribution during most normal driving.

      The only time the Volt engine is called upon before battery power is used up is in cold conditions when it is pressed into service to provide heat for the passenger compartment and battery.”


      Engine Running Due To Temperature (ERDTT)

      MY 2011/2012 25 Degrees
      MY 2013/2014/2015 – Opt-In 15 Degrees

      Link Goes To Ecomento Dot Com-


      Thomas J. Thias

      Sundance Chevrolet Inc.


      1. Forever green says:

        Good explanation Thomas. I hope Aron gets it this time.

        1. kdawg says:

          LOL, GM coined the term EREV to describe the car they engineered, and Aaron is telling us it’s not an EREV. What?

      2. Stephen says:

        Why can’t the Volt be both a PHEV and an EREV?

        1. Ziv says:

          It is both in my mind, but EREV is a higher form of PHEV so Volt supporters tend to push for it to be recognized as such. Especially since you get full power solely from the battery as long as the temps are over 15 degrees. Well, you do until you exhaust the pack… No annoying ICE jumping in to help the acceleration along or reduced acceleration in the absence of the ICE.

          1. M Hovis says:

            Agreed Ziv. Here on InsideEVs is one of the best explanations by Eric Cote

  8. Thomas J. Thias says:

    “The Mirai MSRP is $57,500. In California, after state and federal incentives of $13,000, the base price is reduced to potentially $45,500”

    Mark Hovis – Inside EVs, Global Electric Fueled Vehicle, Automotive Journalist

    Oops, the Fed $8,000.00 Tax Credit no longer exists as of December 31st 2014.

    Unless restored by Congressional act, POOF!

    “At the end of December, the US federal government let the $8,000 tax credit for hydrogen-powered vehicles expire.

    Despite this little wrinkle, Toyota is still promoting the upcoming 2016 Mirai fuel cell vehicle as a car that will cost under $50,000.

    In some cases a lot less, since it may also qualify for a $5,000 incentive in California.

    The car has a $57,500 MSRP, but Nihar Patel, vice president of North American Business Strategy for Toyota Motor Sales, spoke at the 2015 Washington Auto Show last week, and said that the Mirai could cost $44,500 in California.~”

    Sebastian Blanko | Auto Blog
    Jan 27th 2015 at 7:00PM

    Link Goes To Quoted Article Via | Auto Blog-


    Thomas J. Thias


    1. mike w says:

      Yes you are 100% correct. in addition to the non existing “Tax Credit” the Mira also earns a boat load of ZEV credits which Toyota is using to offset the price of their car. It would be interesting to see the price for this FCV in a non CARB ZEV state.

      1. It absolutley will NOT be sold outside of CARB-ZEV states… guaranteed, just like the RAV4 EV and Scion iQ EV.

        CARB-ZEV – California’s ZEV program has now been adopted by the states of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. These states, known as the “Section 177 states,” have chosen to adopt California’s air quality standards in lieu of federal requirements as authorized under Section 177 of the federal Clean Air Act. Additionally, California’s GHG standards are now spelled out federal law. Maine, Washington DC and New Jersey are participating with ZEV initiatives, but are not signatory CARB-ZEV states.

  9. Jeff N says:

    Good article! You made a lot of fair detailed comparisons. The appropriate fuel cell GHG numbers for steam reformed hydrogen are not fully settled. The numbers you are using are on the optimistic side.

    One area that you could improve on is the overall GHG comparison with the Volt assuming 62% EV from battery charging and 38% gasoline miles. Those are backwards looking ratios that depend on EV driving range capability. There is a formula called Utility Factor used by the EPA that attempts to predict this number based on a car’s EV range. For the 2016 Volt with 50 miles of EV this factor calculation points closer to 70% EV and 30% gasoline miles.

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      I wander what the utility factor could be for the BMW i3?
      With much more ev range it must be close to 95% ev.

      1. M Hovis says:

        The i3 would be greener. I carefully used EREV instead of Volt when that was the case. A head-to-head comparison is just that, and this one was Volt to Mirai. I did not harp on the disparity in price, for I feel there is a lot a room for the FCV to drop in base price. With two main EREVs to choose from, I found it interesting for our readers that pretty much any EREV over 35 AER can win on GHG emmissions. I think that is a pretty big deal. I you are looking for the greenest EREV, the i3 wins. I tried to stay true to an automotive head-to-head comparison.

        1. Priusmaniac says:

          Fair enough indeed. On the other side the i3 indicated that it is now already possible to beat both the Mirai and Volt and still keep a very long range and very short refill time.
          Forward the BMW i5, if it comes with a similar system as the i3 but with a more standard tank would be still more a competitor to the Mirai and Volt size wise.
          We could also have a Camry sized version from Toyota with 100 miles ev range and the better direct free piston generator they have developed.
          Perhaps although unlikely, we could finally have the former Tesla Model S 40 KWh version with 125 miles ev range but equipped with a rex to compensate for the smaller battery that would then become even better than the Model S 85 KWh because it would have a global range of 800 miles while still being cheaper than the Model S 60 KWh version.
          To improve on the rex it could be a direct free piston generator also and flex fuel so that it would be able to run on E 85 bioethanol and even on wet bioethanol. You could then still afford it, make your own electricity by solar panels on your roof and your own bioethanol in your back garden as well, while still having very long range. Since you would only need 5% of fuel that would globally be less than the 15 % already produced today leaving more than enough for the coming replacement of the petrochemistry by the ethanochemistry for plastics, chemicals, paints and so on. A true 100% departure from oil right now with affordable price cars, long range included and independence for the rest as well as for cars.

  10. MDEV says:

    Plus Volt is beautiful and Mirai is Fugly

    1. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

      Appearance-wise, the Mirai is the 21st Century’s Edsel.

      1. Ziv says:

        I saw one at the DC Autoshow and it was quirky but not terrible. But then again, now that I am seeing I3’s in the wild, I am starting to like their quirky looks too. As long as they aren’t two toned anyway.

        If you are going to go with a car that uses energy inefficiently and costs twice to perhaps triple the amount of an equivalent ICE vehicle, (but you can cover that price problem up if you only lease them) you might as well make it stand out in a crowd. 😉

  11. HVACman says:

    When I calc out the 2016 Volt solar-offset GHG for Jeff N’s cited 70/30 EV/RE ratio, , it comes out to 990 KG GHG – it absolutely crushes even an optimistic FCV GHG projection.

    So here is what we now know about an FCV as compared to an EREV.

    Vehicle price higher
    Fuel costs 5X much higher
    GHG’s higher (even if you give the FCV the benefit of the doubt)
    refills for 300 mile range in 3-5 minutes at a very expensive non-existent fueling infrastructure. Volts refills for 370 mile range in 3-5 minutes almost ANYWHERE using existing infrastructure.

    Now, just make one more mod to a Volt – convert the engine to CNG – already available at 100’s of distribution points nationwide – and eliminate imported oil dependency completely and cut GHG’s even more.

    Can someone please remind me why are we should waste even one hour of time and dollar of investment on further exploring the FCV “solution”?

    1. mike w says:

      The only reasons FCVs are coming to market is because CARB wants them and is willing to throw money at them. This technology looked ok in the past but once the Li ion battery came along it looks like well a bad idea.

  12. lewl says:

    I didn’t realize Mirai was so chunky.
    Over 4000lbs, wow!

    Volt 2.0 has all that battery and still 500lbs less than that.

  13. Blind Guy says:

    This is why I would rather see public tax money go towards upgrading our national electrical grid instead of pushing hydrogen fueling stations. Utility companies are starting to resist more home solar & wind being hooked up to the grid because of the increasing cost of integration. Obviously more renewables need to be added to the grid and all who use it; just like interstate highways should share the upgrade cost.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      Yep . . . and it is up to us to stop them from complaining. I get it, their old business model is being broken into thousands of pieces (literally considering distributed power generation). But solar PV and wind do provide nice clean and relatively low cost power. They need to deal with it. I think that at some point, the government should install and maintain a few natural gas powered peakers and be responsible for being the back-stop on the bad renewable days.

      And the fact that wind and solar are growing like crazy points to the fact that we should go electric. The most efficient way to use that energy for transportation is to put it directly into EV batteries. Using it to generate hydrogen is much less efficient. Perhaps you can do that in situations wherein we have more power on the grid than we need but we are no where close to that situation.

  14. io says:

    I don’t see the point of such a comparison, other than igniting yet another flamewar. The two vehicles don’t target the same demographics.

    If (like ~half the US households) you can plug in, get a plug-in!

    If not (other half), then obviously an FCV makes more sense.

    1. M Hovis says:

      Imagine a world in the not so distant future where autonomous driving is a reality. Now, households without a plug can retrieve their auto from a remote parking lot.

      Or we can re-invent a very expensive infrastructure.

    2. Khai L. says:

      Ummm, no.

      Even if you don’t have access to a plug at home, the volt is still better, because you have access to plugs everywhere else. And many apartment complexes are installing EVSE’s, so the half without would soon have it. Whereas no one is installing an H2 dispensary in their home.

      1. Ziv says:

        Khai is right. My condo is an older building, but they have bent over backwards to accommodate my Volt. And it didn’t take much. 120 volts, 12 amps, 25 feet of wiring and a plug and we were good to go. The building engineer laughed when I offered to pay for the plug installation. He said it took him less than an hour.
        They charge me $25 a month whether I use that much or not. In areas with higher electric prices, charge more. The the vast majority of people that won’t have the ability to plug their cars in will be the ones that live in older buildings with no parking at all outside of street parking. And then they can opportunity charge in a growing number of places like I did for the first 3 months I had the Volt. It isn’t that hard if you can charge at a 6.6 or 10.0 kW charge rate.

      2. sven says:

        Khai L. said: “Even if you don’t have access to a plug at home, the volt is still better, because you have access to plugs everywhere else.”

        Not true for many people, especially in very densely populated urban areas.

        Even if you do have access to plugs elsewhere, public charging can be extremely slow and exorbitantly (if not insanely) expensive. One place charges $25 per hour to charge!!!

    3. Spider-Dan says:

      Exactly this. The target demographic for FCVs is people who cannot charge at home; if you can charge at home, plug-ins are a better value.

    4. Nix says:

      The market demographic of California apartment renters who can afford $60K cars, and who live near H2 filling stations, would be a very, very small market demographic.

      The pricing reality makes it much more likely that the market demographic for the Mirai is much more likely to be folks who have enough money to own their own home in the suburbs.

      For example, there is no H2 fueling station in San Francisco proper. The closest one is on the other side of the bay, and is positioned for commuters. LA is the same way, all the fueling stations are positioned for suburban commuter homeowners.

      Everything about the H2 rollout, from the fueling station locations, to the very high prices points towards a market demographic of well-off suburban homeowners, not city apartment renters, or people who can’t afford to own a home.

      1. Spider-Dan says:

        How much was the Roadster, again?

        Yes, early generation technology is expensive.

  15. Speculawyer says:

    I’m still dumbfounded by Japan’s continued drive to work on fuel cell cars. Here is what I can come up as possible reasons for this obssession:

    1) There is a lot of ‘groupthink’ going on. They are all just convinced that the only way you can replace gas cars is with an equivalent that provides 300 mile range and 5 minute fill-ups. And with japan’s polite society and consensus based thinking, they’ve just arrived at this decision and are sticking with it.

    2) They may have some dream about being able to harvest methane hydrates from the bottom of the ocean and thus Japan will have a huge supply of methane that they can use to make hydrogen.

    That’s all I can figure.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Although Japan has plans (more specifically, the ABE gov’t) to restart several Nuclear Generating Stations in 2015, currently their remaining 48 reactors are idled, forcing large imports of imported fuel which is hurting their Balance of Payments.

      If fuel cell hydrogen vehicles make sense ywhere, it is in electricity starved Japan.

      Of course, wind and solar either currently or very shortly, will be able to be purchased, with gov’t subsidies, for $1.60 a watt. My unsubsidized cost at my home for solar power is $3 – $3.50 a watt, the higher figure being the actual useable amount. OF course in my area, there is little sun.

      But the point is, in the US only 4 Nuclear Stations are being constructed with the final subsidized price of the electricity being around $10/watt. So, seeing as Georgia and South Carolina get GOBS of sunshine, Solar is very competitive with the cost of Nuclear, even if ICE peaking plants have to be simultaneously built to cover the eventuality of a cloudy day.

      The point for this article is, Fuel Celled vehicles make little sense in the USA. Electricity and Gasoline are both relatively cheap, clean, available, and reliable.

      Cars like the Volt capitalize on ultra-low smog generation (in places like smog happy Los Angeles the driving can be totally electric), and, as Mark mentions only 3% of driving of the new volt, with its increased battery-only range, will make ‘environmental concerns due to cars’ atrophy to inconsequential amounts.

      The new needless, expensive infrastructure arriving with Hydrogen Vehicles will not be greated warmly by a cash-strapped public, and Corporate Welfare for such needless projects is closer to its end than its beginning.

      1. Speculawyer says:

        Yes . . . Japan is a bit electricity starved. (Although not really because they have added wind and solar . . . and they can restart the nukes.) But they are even more hydrogen starved than electricity starved! The cheapest way to make hydrogen is to steam reform natural gas. And they have have among the most expensive natural gas prices in the world because it is all imported.

        So how do hydrogen fuel cells make sense in Japan? Electrics are better because they can use solar PV, tidal, offshore wind, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, onshore wind, nuclear, etc.

    2. Kumar says:

      I think it may have more to do with dense urban living in high rises which I have heard is common in Japan. Parking and thus charging would be bigger challenges than here.

    3. mike w says:

      Electricity in Japan is not readily available like it is in the USA. FCVs might and I repeat might be ok in Japan but in the USA it looks like a bad idea. These car were made obsolete by lower cost batteries for BEVs.

      1. Speculawyer says:

        But they even have less hydrogen than the they do electricity.

  16. Forever green says:

    The hydrogen fuel in the Toyota Mirai is compressed to over 10,000 psi. That makes the Mirai a 4078.6 pound bomb on wheels.

    1. Kumar says:

      Point: they say it’s very safe
      Counterpoint: it only takes one explosion to kill the concept

      1. Spider-Dan says:

        How many people have died in fires from gasoline cars?

        It saddens me to see EV proponents use exactly the same tactics against FCVs that were used by ICE proponents against EVs.

        “Look how unsafe they are!”
        “They are dependent on government subsidies!
        “They are far too expensive to compete with the much cheaper, already established existing tech!”

        1. How about the simple one that H2 can never win… physics.

          It will always take MORE energy to produce one mile’s worth of H2 powered travel than the same mile using stored electricity.


  17. Loboc says:

    The proof is in the pudding says my Grandmother.

    We are so early in alternative energy vehicle design and deployment that it is very difficult to predict what will happen. Nobody predicted that GM would showcase a 200mi BEV this January, for example.

    I think it is a little early to compare two vehicles that are not even for sale yet!

    1. Nix says:

      What? Are you implying that internet speculation is pointless? Darn it, there goes 90% of the internet…


    2. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

      Minor quibble: GM showed us a car and said it will have a 200 mile range. That claim has not been independently verified.

  18. kdawg says:

    I want to see the #’s when both of these cars are in private hands.

    I’m guessing the acceleration off the line will definitely be in the Volt’s favor.

  19. Forever green says:

    Hydrogen at that pressure cannot be 100% safe. Gas needs and a ignition source. Most combustible fluids need an ignition source. Hydrogen at over 10,000 PSI do not need an ignition sauce.
    leak = BOOM!

    1. alohart says:

      Huh?! Hydrogen is stable and doesn’t spontaneously combust. It, too, requires an ignition source to combust. So without an ignition source, hydrogen leaking from a tank would just rise into the atmosphere having a very low density.

      Compressed gases have been stored at high pressures for many years without being dangerous. As long as FCV’s protect their hydrogen tanks from collision damage, I would feel just as safe as driving a gasoline-powered vehicle whose gasoline system could leak and catch fire (happens all the time).

      1. Raymondjram says:

        Hydrogen under pressure and then release would be very cold, invisible, and odorless. So a poor victim can die from suffocation after breathing in cold gas, freezing the thorax and lungs.

  20. GeorgeS says:

    Nice to see a fair head to head comparison. Thx for the great article 🙂

  21. jsmay311 says:


    Where did you get the numbers that your used for grams of CO2 per kWh when coming up with the “244 g/mile” for the Volt on the current grid. (And, for that matter, what is the “EPA Recommended Grid”?)

    With the Volt’s 102 MPGe (0.33 kwh/mile) rating and your 244 g/mile calculation, that comes to 739 g/kwh, or 1.63 lbs/kWh.

    That might not be far off if you were assuming non-baseload power. (Ref here: But if most charging is done during off-peak times, it would be a lot lower, no?

    1. Thomas J. Thias says:

      Mind if I Blog In?

      jsmay311, you asked, “But if most charging is done during off-peak times, it would be a lot lower, no?”

      Here again is my rebutal to the dirty coal people, studies and false facts shouters:

      Off-Peak waste and discarded electric OverGeneration equals the output of 65-70 nuclear power plants, nightly in the USA!

      Link Goes To Inside EVs Rebutal Post by me, January 6th, 2015-


      Thomas J. Thias


      1. sven says:

        Are you saying that we should use the nightly 65-70 nuclear power plants worth of off-peak and waste electricity to convert it into hydrogen, an energy carrier? Harnessing and storing this excess, unused electricity as hydrogen would not add any additional CO2 emmissions into the atmosphere.

        1. That surplus nighttime electrical production should be put to hydrogen storage (if done without fossil fuels, e.g. with water) which can be used in the peak electrical demand times, or when the solar output is diminished…


          Used to recharge battery EV’s

  22. Forever green says:

    Toyota Mirai has a time of 0 to 60 in 9.6 seconds. The Chevy volt 2.0 will do 0 to 60 in 8.4 seconds.

  23. Nix says:

    The biggest advantage the Volt has, and will continue to have over the Mirai is that actual people actually own them and drive them in large numbers.

    According to GM’s website, 700 Million miles so far on electricity, saving 36 million gallons of gas in just the US market alone.

    Meanwhile, Toyota will build 700 Mirai units this year world-wide, and will then bump that to 2,000 vehicles next year and 3,000 in 2017 for all global markets.

    With Gen II Volt sales expected to go back up out of its current between-model-year lows, the actual impact of the Volt will greatly overshadow anything the Mirai will do any time soon.

    1. Nix says:

      We will probably see the GEN III Volt before we will see mass market production of the Mirai.

  24. Steven says:

    When a fuel cell vehicle can drive cross-country with less time to plan than it takes to pack a suitcase, let me know.

    And towing a trailer full of compressed hydrogen doesn’t count.

  25. Anon says:

    I don’t trust Toyota’s Engineering:

    I guess they got the NHTSA Safety Exemption? Two years seems like a long time to figure this out…

    What happens to the older cars that didn’t have the updated barriers installed?

  26. sven says:


    I believe the warranty info that you provided for the Volt is incorrect. It should be as follows:

    – in CARB states the Volt’s battery warranty is 10 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first

    – in non-CARB states the Volt’s battery warranty is 8 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

    The Volt is a partial zero-emmisions vehicle (PZEV), and PZEVs have a 15-year/150,000-mile warranty on all emission-related parts in most CARB states (CA, CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NJ, NY, RI, & VT). The Volt’s drive motors are considered emission-control parts, and therefore, have a 15-year/150,000 mile warranty. In all other states the Volt’s drive motors have an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty.

    See kdawg’s comment in this thread for more info and links:

    See pages 25. 28, and 30 in the Chevy Volt owner’s manual:

    1. M Hovis says:

      Yes Sven that is correct. Will update

  27. kubel says:

    Can I suggest that any further references to the 2016 Volt’s seating capacity be listed as 4+1 instead of 5. It’s more honest.

    1. Nix says:


      (or at least plus 4, plus 1)

  28. Raymondjram says:

    The only advantage that the Mirai has over the Volt is height. Everything else is worse, including cost of refueling. And refueling with H2 isn’t easy and dangerous! It will only sell to Toyota fans and H2 vendors.

    1. I can guarantee that our California state government will have LOADS of hydrogen fuel cell cars.