Bramble Energy took delivery of a Toyota Mirai in September, with the vehicle fast becoming an important part of our day-to-day business and giving us the chance to demonstrate how hydrogen fuel cells can be used effectively in real-life applications. Our CEO, Tom Mason discusses his experience of using the Mirai and the role this technology can play in decarbonising the transport sector.
Lets make one thing very clear from the outset. The Toyota Mirai is not meant to be a vehicle that everybody should go out and buy. It’s purpose is as a demonstration of the reliability, performance and use case for both hydrogen as a fuel and the fuel cell technology. It is designed as an executive vehicle so think smooth ride, low noise, plenty of electronic toys. With that frame of reference, it is a success.
Over 1 million miles have been travelled by just the 27 Green Tomato Cars fleet in London alone. Globally, there are over 10,000 Mirais on the road (with around 150 on roads in the UK), this shows it is a niche vehicle and so shouldn’t be compared against the market penetration of other EV brands. Toyota was only ever intending to produce this number of vehicles – the future generation Mirais, the next due for launch in early 2021, are when the volumes will start increase.
The hydrogen fuel cell in the Mirai is 114 kW, roughly equivalent to 150 HP. There is a hybrid system, common to all hybrid Toyota group vehicles, that combines the fuel cell with a modest Nickel Metal Hydride battery of 1.6 kWh. As a result, the performance is not earth shattering like some performance EVs but, it is very reasonable. Indeed, it does feel like a very familiar experience compared with driving a petrol-powered vehicle of similar power. Overall the driving experience is quite remarkable in how unremarkable it is. The only inkling you get from in the cabin that the fuel cell is working are the whirring noises that come under acceleration from the air and hydrogen pumps.
A key advantage of Hydrogen in vehicular transport is re-fuelling time. From start to finish, filling our Mirai takes around 3 mins with 300 miles of range added each time. This is equivalent to 6,000 miles per hour of range added. Even Tesla’s V3 supercharger can only add range of up to 1,000 miles per hour. And in the UK, the ITM Power refuelling stations all deliver hydrogen derived from water, so no push back of the hydrogen coming directly from natural gas reforming.
The elephant in the room is, of course, hydrogen refuelling infrastructure at large. Pure EV is the easiest infrastructure to install for initial market penetration, and for those that can it will be simpler to charge an urban EV at home. But for national adoption, a large deployment of hydrogen infrastructure, combined with EV charging, is the lowest cost route to net zero transportation. It’s important to remember that the number of vehicles, of all types, that a single hydrogen station can service can be many hundreds per day, the same as conventional fuel pumps and so the overall space and cost required is quite low relative to ubiquitous fast EV charging capable of supporting every vehicle type.
We are very proud to be doing our bit to promote the use of hydrogen and fuel cell technology in the transport sector. The Toyota Mirai enables us to connect with our suppliers and customers with only water as a local emission and demonstrate the maturity of both hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
CEO, Bramble Energy
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Read the official press release from Toyota UK here – https://media.toyota.co.uk/2020/10/bramble-energy-takes-delivery-of-a-toyota-mirai-to-provide-emission-free-transport-for-its-hydrogen-fuel-cell-business/