From O’Groats To Land’s End In A Toyota Mirai?

JUL 4 2018 BY MARK KANE 62

Toyota delivered several thousand of the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell cars since 2014 (including over 3,500 in the U.S.) and as the UK received its 9th refueling station, it was time to try it on a cross-country journey.

A team from Autocar started at John O’Groats on the north and drove south to Land’s End covering 1,109 miles (1,784 km) over a few days. Driving FCVs in the UK requires a lot of caution, as the hydrogen stations are far from each other (by the end of 2018 there will be 16 total).

Toyota Mirai is rated for 312 miles (502 km) of range (EPA) using 5 kg of hydrogen, stored at 10,000 psi (700 bar).

Toyota Mirai

Because there were fears about hydrogen consumption, the driver played it safe and, for example, on the first leg of 230 miles to Aberdeen, turned off the air conditioner.

Some gear was carried in a backup car to decrease the weight of the Mirai. In other places, they decreased speed – “we drive like we’re towing a caravan”. It doesn’t sound encouraging, but without infrastructure, there was no choice. Interestingly, it was noted that Mirai doesn’t have regenerative braking, as the small battery would not be able to accept the power or much energy.

Overall here are the stats from driving the Toyota Mirai in the UK:

  • 1,109 miles (1,784 km)
  • 19 hours and 40 minutes
  • average speed 56 mph (90 km/h)
  • hydrogen consumption of 0.9 kg per 100 km (62 miles)
  • total 16.1 kg of hydrogen consumed at £193 ($255) or 17.9p per mile $0.23 per mile
  • 15 minutes spent on refuelling (four stops)
  • exhausted 14.5 litres of unadulterated water

The cost of hydrogen at $0.23 per mile is significant. Because the cars are also hand-made in low-volume, the price of Mirai isn’t encouraging. Combined with the expensive infrastructure that needs to be built up from the ground, we remain pessimistic about the future of  fuel cell cars and optimistic that battery-electric will continue to win out.

Source: Autocar

Categories: Toyota

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62 Comments on "From O’Groats To Land’s End In A Toyota Mirai?"

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I have to say that the refueling time is pretty good. Thought it took longer with gaseous fuel.


Whatever for would one even need an air conditioner between John O’Groats and Aberdeen? The temperature barely reaches 70F/21C even in the height of the summer.

Also I wonder why the “small” size of Mirai’s battery (1.6 kWh) would preclude regenerative braking, as the article suggests? It’s not much smaller than what the regular Prius has

You need to find some excuses to trash it :/ It is mostly ECV fan site after all.

“Also I wonder why the ‘small’ size of Mirai’s battery (1.6 kWh) would preclude regenerative braking, as the article suggests?”

That is a puzzlement, all right. You’d think with the abysmal energy efficiency of a car using compressed hydrogen for fuel, they would use everything they can to recapture as much of the wasted energy as possible!

To me, 300 miles on 5 kg of hydrogen doesn’t seem too bad, when you compare it to other fuels. As a comparison, the same 5 kg (about 1.5 gallons, I guess?) of diesel will give you maybe 100 miles with a lot of tailwind.

At $12+/kg it is pretty awful to go 300 miles on $60 worth of fuel. That’s $5/gal gas in a 25mpg car territory.

Not sure why you are comparing $6 worth of diesel with $60 worth of hydrogen

The tailpipe emissions of H2 is great, the economy is awful and the infrastructure is beyond awful. But at least the vehicle are expensive.

The cost of hydrogen will come down as the equipment is mass produced (hello China), Nikola Motor has begun building a US Nationwide network of hydrogen stations and says they will sell H2 to anyone that wants it for $6.00/Kg – and that price will be less than paying for supercharging in some locations. The cars are hand-made now but Toyota (and Honda) will start mass production soon. China has also begun mass production of FC stacks. Finally, H2 dispensers can be retrofitted at existing stations.

3 strikes, you’re behind the times. Hydrogen bashers sound like EV skeptics in 2009. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Bash away, you will NOT stop H2. Take it to the bank. You may slow it down a bit in the US but who cares about the US anymore anyway. A bunch of arrogant, lazy dolts.

Keep dreaming boy, keep dreaming!

When you wake up, there will be EV , battery powered, everywhere. FCEV, not so much.

Just the recent amount of investment in battery factory exceed surpass many years of investment in FCEV.

So follow the money!

People spending big bucks to build battery factories is one thing, but there is also strategic investment into fundamental- and applied science that goes into developing new technologies. And, from what I know, billions are invested by dozens, if not hundreds, big companies and organizations into fuel cell development. Here is some info on direct methanol fuel cells:

Improving fuel cells is fairly pointless. The problem with hydrogen powered FCEVs isn’t the fuel cell, it’s the H2 fuel.

If you want to improve fuel cell cars, then switch to a practical fuel.

The methanol fuel cell I am discussing seems to be more practical than H2, for a number of reasons.

And that will go right back to putting carbon dioxide into the air. This is likely also true of the $6.00/kg hydrogen that Nikola is promising. Hydrogen from natural gas is cheaper, but not necessarily the best for the environment.

Do you really think with the competitive market for automotive batteries that will be doubling in value over the next 5 years to $65 billion doesn’t have any investment into fundamental and applied science into new technologies? Do you really think that CATL, Samsung, Panasonic and other battery leaders are just sitting by and not working feverishly behind the scenes spending billions in R&D to develop new technology to beat their competitors?

Mass produced? This trip cost about $15.84/kg getting 68 mi/kg while “driving like towing a caravan”. If you took the same trip with Prius, it’d cost half that even in expensive UK (1/4 that in US). Mass production for people stupid enough to pay 2X (or 4X) gasoline price for the same thing as existing tech isn’t going to happen.

“The cost of hydrogen will come down as the equipment is mass produced…”

Supporters of the “hydrogen economy” hoax have been predicting that for years. Reality check: H2 fuel from the newest stations is if anything even more expensive than fuel from the older ones.

“…Nikola Motor has begun building a US Nationwide network of hydrogen stations and says they will sell H2 to anyone that wants it for $6.00/Kg…”

Anyone who truly believes any claim coming from that sham company is either sadly uninformed about the laws of physics, thermodynamics, and chemistry as they relate to the realities and impracticality of hydrogen fuel, or they are quite gullible, or both.

This from the guy who confidently predicted that the head of CARB is violating the ‘Second Law of Thermodynamics’ everyday with the use of her Toyota Mirai as her Daily Driver. I suppose it would help if you had any idea of what you speak, but hey, why start now?

You get Hydrogen by splitting water wi h ELECTRICITY. It take four times as much electrical power per mile to fuel a Fuel Cell car then a BEV.

Whole lot of “will”s in there. “Will come down”, “will sell..for”, “will be less than”, “will start mass production”. By the time all those “wills” come to pass, if they ever do, the one and only advantage of faster refueling time will be pissed away when EVs will be able to charge in a similar amount of time. That’s the EV’s one and only “will”.

When the rubber hits the road owners will put refueling time low down on their list when they see cost of operation, ease of maintenance, superior performance and convenience of fueling at home for most, being all the advantages of owning an EV. HFCVs will only have, “but it fuels in 4 minutes vs. 10 minutes in an EV when you are on a road trip.”

Every few years this idea crops up, and then a few years later virtually nothing comes of it. 2015 was meant to be the year where hydrogen cars broke out, as they became available to buy rather than lease, but there’s still virtually no infrastructure and cars are still ridiculously expensive for what you get. Not only its there a chicken and egg problem with the infrastructure there also is with the hydrogen tanks. At the moment there’s no way for a single tank to be made quickly which means you need to make huge number of them in parallel to get the costs down, we’re talking about at least a million. Where is the demand for a million tanks?

While cost of fuel cells and hydrogen tanks is expected to drop with larger volumes, even with optimistic predictions, it will remain a very expensive technology. What’s worse, there is no path in sight for sustainable hydrogen production at a good price. Mass production doesn’t solve every cost problem…

While battery EVs in many circumstances are already cheaper than combustion cars in total costs of ownership, fuel cells will probably *never* reach that point. A technology that relies on large subsidies indefinitely, would have a hard time reaching meaningful market penetration, even if it didn’t have to compete with a much cheaper (and arguably more practical) alternative…

Only time will tell if they can get to a competitive price point.

But the high amount of energy needed to create the fuel is still bothering me.

We should be motivated by what is possible one day, not what is possible today.

The laws of physics apply forever.

I am a supporter of both EV’s and fuel cell vehicles. I have to agree with some posts before. Previously people thought EV’s were an anomaly. Fuel cell vehicles may still appear an anomaly. EV’s currently work well for short distances but their energy density is currently far too low to power heavy energy users for long periods. Hydrogen could provide an answer here (or maybe one of the many other options) Hydrogen loses in the generation of it but I read some articles recently that big improvements are on the horizon. So don’t judge too quickly I would say.

Please do tell use what magic y’all are gonna use to get around the laws of nature. 😉

Oh, and if you do solve that *ahem* minor *ahem* problem, then why fiddle around with H2 fuel and fuel cells? Just go straight to perpetual motion. That would certainly be no harder than finding a magic way to alter the physical properties of the pernicious hydrogen molecule!

Men still can not breathe under water or fly without help and they will never be able to.
But you are free to believe that the species will evolve in this direction.

There are more relevant things to do, that’s all.

Thing is, even if some unexpected breakthroughs suddenly made fuel cells affordable, they still wouldn’t offer meaningful advantages over BEV for road transport…

…and that the H2 is coming from reforming fracked gas.

Creating the hydrogen is no problem. They’re getting pretty good at it – it would surprise you as to how much of it is made per year, and this with no cars even. Just shy of 60 tons (53 metric tons) were made in 2004 per Wiki. And this with no cars.

Creating hydrogen is not a problem. Creating it *sustainably*, at an acceptable cost, is.

Assuming an equivalent Petrol Car would get 30 miles/ 128 oz (US) gallon, where fuel prices are currently around $3 / US Gallon, this car costs $6.90 to go what would cost $3 in a Gas car or about $1.10 in an electric (in moderate weather, at least).

Seeing as maintenance of California H2 stations is around $16/kg alone, this means the current price is highly subsidized, even at $6.90 GGE (Gasoline Gallon Equivalent) here.

I know all kinds of people in California, the UK, and in China are trying to force this to work, but it looks like a lot of MORE WORK will be necessary.

H2 groupies have been promising cheap H2 for over a decade. We’ll see in time if they make it.

One thing is for sure: If the same effort had been put into ev’s that has been put into making H2 vehicles work – about 50% of the people would be driving electric cars now rather than 1%.

In the UK, gallon of gas cost $6.

Try nearer $7

It’s £1.30 per litre for petrol here so about $6.40 per gallon (U.S.). However, I just did 905 miles this past week travelling from the Highlands of Scotland down to the North of England. I spent two days at a hotel in Cumbria that had charging facilities and the rest of my charging was via the free public charging system in Scotland, total “fuel” cost nill and I used the air-con as the temperature was 28 centigrade and cloudless all week. I am not anti hydrogen but I can’t see me rushing out to buy such a car.

And if hydrogen fuel was taxed the same as petrol is in the UK and the EU, then it would cost around $18-20 per kg, which would be roughly the equivalent of $9-10 for a gallon of petrol, in terms of how much distance you could get out of it.

Much more effort and money has been put into battery research, comprehensive charging networks in some countries like Japan, mass market production of not very practical rechargeable cars. All this didn’t lead anywhere despite huge hype about “breakthrough around the corner” for the last decade. You still have it under 2% new car market because of imposed requirement to shell out around 2x money (before subsidies) and change your lifestyle to serve slow and finicky car charging process.

If you failed to make new gen battery with all these billions burned, maybe you should take example of Steven Chu and stop biting others trying to work on alternative pathways. He is physicist and Nobel price winner, worked on Lithium Metal batteries as well. As Energy Secretary tried to cut fuel cell research funding under Obama’s first term during economic downturn. Now he poses for photo in Mirai and talks different way.

Another Euro point of view

if a sustainable (not too expensive & practical) way can be found in using renewable energies to produce hydrogen we should at least give the technology a chance. Ways to propel a car should not lead to people closing themselves up in churches (BEV church, Elon’s followers church, I short Tsla church, nothing but big V8 for me church etc…etc…).

I agree in principle. But after reading an in-depth report on the costs of hydrogen technology (current and projected), I no longer see much hope for it to ever become a viable option for road transport.

And yet, BEVs are *way* further after a decade of investments from a small number of car makers, than FCEVs are after two decades of promises…

A lot more government money has gone into promoting FCVs than ever has been for EV’s. I really wish that the government would stop spending my tax dollars on this as it will always cost at least twice the price of electricity for H2. It is oil companies that want to promote FCVs so they can continue selling fuel at their stations, let them pay for the infrastructure not me.


“exhausted 14.5 litres of unadulterated water”

Well, no.

Just who is claiming that the Mirai’s exhaust is uncontaminated… which means it would be safe for drinking? Toyota has admitted nobody at the company is willing to drink the water from the Mirai’s exhaust!

From “Toyota: Don’t Drink the (Fuel Cell) Water”

As a thought experiment I do wonder if you were to magically replace all cars with HFCVs in big cities what would happen in the winter with hundreds of thousands of HFCVs at rush hour exhausting small amounts of water onto the freezing road. It’s not a lot of water per vehicle but you have hundreds of thousands driving over the same stretch within hours. For example the I-285/SR 400 interchange in Atlanta handles about 200,000 cars a day. During strong freezing temperatures how much water would be dumped in that one spot?

Let’s see, expensive fuel made from natural gas, virtually no infrastructure, low production. Yep these are gonna take over the world.

This is a complete piece of H2 propaganda
“That there’s still a long way to go is underlined at our next stop in Sunderland on day two, where we replenish the Mirai from a hydrogen-dispensing truck provided by Fuel Cell Systems. The reason that the refuelling takes place at a factory in Tyne and Wear, rather than at a handy truck stop en route, is that there will be a permanent hydrogen fuel station, rooted to the ground, in Sunderland later this year”
In other words, there is no filling station in Sunderland and this whole trip would not be possible if they hadn’t driven a truck out especially to refuel the Mirai. Can you imagine what would have been said if 10 years ago this was attempted in a BEV and they had to drive out a truck with a second battery pack and swop them over as there was not a charging station in a location needed to make the trip possible?

The top three problems with Fuel Cell vehicles are.
1.) Infrastructure
2.) Infrastructure
3.) Infrastructure

4.) induced pollution; and,
5.) inefficiency.

6.) Initial cost
7). Operational cost

Another Euro point of view

As I understand that a fuel cell car is essentially an electric car with electricity stocked in liquid form can’t they make a fuel cell car with a 20 kWh battery with the fuel cell & tank used as a range extender ? I take it it would be NOW too expensive but what about in five years from now ? The way I see it if people keep on wanting to drive bulky SUV it might be that the heavy costly 90kWh battery that this type of car needs in order to give it a barely decent range would be more appropriately replaced by a lighter 20 kWh battery + light fuel cell & hydrogen tank as an extender.

However, it would be much easier for men to avoid using vehicles as big as their ego and to be reasonable.
Is not immoderation the source of the problem?

The entire package of a fuel cell drive train is not all that much lighter than an EV and in some cases is heavier. It is marginally lighter than an EV in some cases but heavier than an ICE. Hydrogen is light but the composite tanks, fuel cell stack, supporting electronics and finally the battery adds a lot of weight. For example the 312 mile range mid-sized Mirai has a curb weight of 4,075 lbs. The 310 mile range mid-sized Tesla Model 3 has a curb weight of 3,838 lbs. It’s lighter than the Mirai and the M3 has more cargo capacity and seat 5 people compared to the Mirai which seats only 4. So by making the battery even bigger which would add weight, shrinking the fuel cell stack by a tiny amount and shrinking the tanks by some amount wouldn’t save weight. In fact the shell of the tanks would still have to be as thick as the larger tanks to be able to hold 10,000 psi. So as you shrink the tanks the hydrogen to tank shell weight ratio would shrink to your disadvantage. You would probably end up with the same weight all for the 1%… Read more »

Batteries are heavy and expensive, but fuel cells + tanks are almost as heavy, and *way more* expensive.

You might as well just use a petrol engine as the “extender”. The technology is FAR cheaper and already there, the infrastructure is already there and FAR cheaper. Oh, we’ve just invented the PHEV and the Rex without need to spend trillions implementing a H2 fuelling infrastructure.

A lot of people are using the same arguments used against EV’s 10 years ago to knock FCV’s now. Hypocrites doesn’t even come close to it.

People do realize an FCV is an EV with a range extender right?

In 20 years when ICE cars are legislated away and BEV’s still won’t have matched the range promises made the only answer will be range extenders. Super small, super efficient, purpose built ICE motors (probably rotary and single/twin cylinder diesels) will be one answer, Fuel Cells will be another. They may not be Hydrogen powered, they may use something else, but this is a subject that needs to be researched. Maybe people see it as a threat to Tesla, or because Musk hasn’t declared it a good idea that automatically makes it a bad idea, maybe people just don’t understand the fundamental concept, either way people need to stop being so short sighted.

The main argument against FCVs for land transport is that they are trying to solve a problem (zero-emission transport) that is already solved much better by BEVs, and there is no realistic hope of ever catching up.

IMO that’s because they are looking at it the wrong way. FCV’s aren’t a competitor, a FCV is still a BEV only it has a range extender. I don’t see why that confuses so many people. The energy required for the Hydrogen in a HFC means it’s not zero emissions anyway. I personally don’t think that BEV’s are going to answer all of the questions within the next 20 years, so medium term we need to find a work around. If we can’t have an ICE we need some way to create energy.

There is absolutely no way we have enough Lithium (atm at least) to replace every ICE Heavy Goods Vehicle in the world with a BEV, that’s unrealistic, but if we half the size of the battery pack and supplement it with some sort of Fuel Cell that makes it much more realistic. Instead of running blindly into this problem in 20 years time and having to spend 10 years working out what to do, we could be working on it now so that it won’t be a problem in the future.

What kind of questions do you see, that battery-only vehicles can’t answer in the foreseeable future, but a hydrogen range extender could?

Lithium supply doesn’t seem to be a serious concern at this point, as identified resources keep increasing with ongoing exploration, and now stand at more than 53,000,000 tons, according to the latest data from U.S. Geological Survey. If I’m doing the maths right, that would be enough for more than five billion passenger cars with 60 kWh batteries; or more usefully, two billion cars, plus a couple hundred million trucks, plus a whole lot of grid storage, and still quite a bit to spare.

What’s more, while Li-Ion is the chemistry of choice right now, it’s likely not the only feasible one…

Of course the Toyota Mirai has regenerative breaking. Please stick to facts.

It would have been interesting if the companion vehicle they used had been an EV with at least 200 miles range – a Tesla or an Ampera-e – to compare net refueling time and costs with the Mirai. They did the 1,000 mile trip in a “few days” at a relatively-slow pace which suggested they only went 200-300 miles per day. If properly planned, such a trip would allow overnight (and frequently free) EV charging at their nightly destinations. And at that slow pace, a 60 kWh BEV could do 300 miles between charges. Zero time used and zero cost.

Plugshare shows literally 1,000’s of EV charging stations of various kinds already available along all the main routes between O’Groats and Land’s End – even with chargers literally at the start and end points. EV range anxiety already would be essentially nil driving that route compared to the FCV range anxiety the drivers had with their Mirai. I suggest they do the same drive in three years with both an FCV and a long-range BEV and give the world an update on how both the BEV and the hydrogen revolutions are fairing.

The first practical solid state EV batteries are a few years away, when they arrive that will be the end of the hydrogen powered silliness.

This is not aimed at everyone, but it really misses the point for me. Why would I want a FCEV that I have to fill up much the same way I fill up my petrol car, when I already have a BEV that I plug into my garage outlet every day and costs me so little in electricity (even less as I add to my home solar array)? $0.23/mi vs $0.02/mi? Is that a typo? Didn’t anyone else think that was a very high amount? That’s 10x the cost for the FCEV compared to my BEV! Is everyone an idiot? There’s electricity everywhere, all you need is a way to tap into it. It really is a case of “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. The only issue for BEV right now is recharging time, and for just about every situation that isn’t even a problem. The next biggest issue is making sure there are DC chargers installed. This whole FCEV situation reminds me of that boss who stands behind their employees no matter what they do, because if they admit the employee has a problem then they have to admit they made… Read more »

What’s also interesting is our local bus service were experimenting with hydrogen buses, but they just announced they were abandoning them. think fuel cells are DOA.