Home » The Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Car Is A Fascinating Waste Of Money: Trade-In-Tuesday

The Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Car Is A Fascinating Waste Of Money: Trade-In-Tuesday

Trad In Tuesday Mirai Yt Ts2
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I drove a hydrogen car for the first time in my life a few weeks back, and it was awesome for the first 10 minutes. That’s the amount of time I had in the 2018 Toyota Mirai that someone had traded in to our sister company (Galpin Volkswagen) before I had to head to one of the 58-ish filling stations in the entire nation. Luckily, I’m LA based, so I had a station nearby, but unluckily, what I learned upon arriving at that filling station completely ruined the car for me. Here, allow me to explain.

For the third installment of Trade-In-Tuesday, we take a close look at a hydrogen-powered 2018 Toyota Mirai, traded in to Galpin Volkswagen and then sent to Galpin’s huge maintenance facility referred to simply as “Raymer.” That’s where I had my first look.

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It’s a decent looking car; it reminds me a bit of a Prius or maybe a Camry or Avalon — it’s unabashedly a newish Toyota:

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The Mirai has a lot of the same qualities you expect out of any other vehicle from the brand: decent build quality, a well-engineered ride, good safety tech, etc. The interior is a decent place to spend time, with nice light-colored vinyl seats, and two-tone interior trim panels; the cabin comes with all the tech I’d have wanted in 2018, when the car was new:

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There’s only seating for two in the back, presumably due to packaging constraints associated with the powertrain (I’ll get to more on that), but those two seats looked spacious, even if they were covered in some kind of strange purple liquid:

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All of this is to say that, while I may have initially seen a hydrogen car as some kind of futuristic Jetsons-like hovercraft, the reality is that the car felt very normal when I first hopped in. Here, check out my review — the third episode of Trade-In Tuesday:

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As you see in the video above, things continued to feel normal when I hit the start button and started driving.

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The Mirai is comfortable, and drives like an electric car because that’s exactly what it is. It takes oncoming airflow, steals the oxygen, mixes it with hydrogen stored in its tanks, and from that creates electricity that it sends to a 151 horsepower electric motor at the front of the car.

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The electricity production happens at fuel cell stack, which — counter to what I say in that YouTube video — is actually not under the hood. This is the Power Control Unit, which, according to Toyota “decides when to use stored energy from the battery or to draw energy directly from the fuel cell stack. This is part of what makes Mirai so energy efficient, and is based on the proven Toyota hybrid PCU found in Prius.”

Screen Shot 2024 01 30 At 10.21.13 Am

You can see the Power Control Unit on the left side of the image below. You’ll notice that the two hydrogen storage tanks are under the rear seat and below the trunk (just aft of the rear axle), while the actual fuel cell is under both the front seats:

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The small 1.6 kWh Nickel-Metal Hydride battery in elevated in the trunk area:

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Here’s a nice system overview:

Mirai Infographic

Here’s a top view:

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And if you’d like some close-ups of the hardware, check out these carbon fiber/fiberglass/plastic tanks:

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Here’s a closer look at the Power Control Unit under the hood:

Screen Shot 2024 01 30 At 10.47.39 Am

Here’s the electric motor that drives the front wheels:

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Here’s the fuel cell stack that converts the hydrogen and oxygen into electricity to feed the battery:

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Here’s the four-phase “boost converter” that is hooked to the front of that fuel cell stack. Its job, per Toyota, is “[bring] voltage to 650 volts. Driving at a higher voltage makes more efficient use of the motor, giving Mirai a power output equivalent to other hybrids in Toyota’s portfolio”:

Screen Shot 2024 01 30 At 10.47.56 Am

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And here’s the baby battery pack, whose role Toyota describes thusly: “The battery allows for regenerative braking and also assists during high-power demands like accelerating — improving total system efficiency and fuel economy. Like the motor, the battery is sourced from proven Toyota hybrid technology”:

Screen Shot 2024 01 30 At 10.48.33 Am

So now that you have a basic overview, and that we’ve established that it basically drives like a front-wheel drive electric car (albeit a fairly slow one, at 151 horsepower and over 4,100 pounds), it’s worth noting some things that make it a bit less compelling. The weird child-like scream that happens when you hammer the accelerator pedal is the least of anyone’s concerns, though it’s worth noting, since Automotive News once penned an entire article on how surprisingly not-silent the electricity-propelled car is, with the site writing:

The whirring kicks in when the driver punches the pedal for quick acceleration. It is reminiscent of the motor-assist in the Prius hybrid. But in the Mirai, it is actually the hydrogen pump working overtime to flush more hydrogen through the processing stack to ramp the car up to speed.

The clicking, which can grate like a noise-vibration issue, comes from the hydrogen fuel injector, which feeds the fuel from the high-pressure hydrogen tanks into the pump.

The clicking speeds and slows in time with your foot on the accelerator.

Both sounds emanate from just under the rear floorboards where the mechanisms are housed. Engineers said they are working on ways to better muffle the sounds.

To me, this “WHEEEEE!!!!” sound that I heard every time I punched the accelerator sounded like a small child having the time of its life, maybe on a roller coaster or something. But again, this was the least of the issues with the car: The biggest issue with the car is refueling. And you don’t have to take my word for it, because I spoke with a longtime Mirai owner named Micheline:

Screen Shot 2024 01 30 At 11.35.15 Am

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“First of all, I lovvvveee the car. I completely 100 percent love the car, BUT it has some pros and cons,” Micheline began, saying she scored a smoking hot deal on the 2017 model back when she picked it up just before the pandemic. “They give you the offer of free hydrogen gas…it last me for three years…it just recently changed maybe two months ago, so my credit is done so now I’m actually paying for [hydrogen].”

When I asked how bad it was having to pay for her own hydrogen, Micheline responded: “It’s horrible. I’m going to probably trade this car in.” Then she showed me her fuel pump. Just look at this thing:

Screen Shot 2024 01 30 At 11.35.39 Am

Almost $110! And for how much range? Well, according to Toyota, the 2017 Mirai can drive 312 miles per tank, but Micheline says she does lots of highway driving, so she expects to drive only 240 before having to refuel. Now, let’s do some math.

The average cost of gasoline in California is $4.50 a gallon. That means Micheline essentially paid the equivalent of 24 gallons of gas. If she’s expected to only go 240 miles on 24 gallons of gas, that’s the same thing as driving a 10 MILE PER GALLON VEHICLE.

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Image: Chevrolet

Yes, you read that right. Micheline is paying as much per mile as she would be if she drove a big, smoky, 1975 Chevrolet Square-Body pickup truck. That’s just utterly ridiculous.

Also slightly ridiculous: She has to put on gloves to take the often-frigid hydrogen fueling nozzle out of her car:

Screen Shot 2024 01 30 At 12.01.16 PmScreen Shot 2024 01 30 At 12.00.13 Pm

I went on to fuel up my car, since I didn’t want to leave Galpin in a lurch. I put $7 into it, figuring that would make up for the maybe 20 miles that I’d driven. In reality, the range on the car ended up lower than when I’d started! I don’t get it.

I will say that, as expensive and unpleasant as the whole refueling situation is, that quick-connect fitting between the hose and the car is quite satisfying to mate together:

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In the end, what we have is a damn fine car let down by — for the most part — infrastructure. The car rides great, its 151 horsepower is adequate, the cabin is quiet aside from the screaming child, and the whole package feels modern and safe. The pedal is responsive, the seats are cushy, there’s plenty of room — there’s a reason why Micheline started our conversation with “First of all, I lovvvveee the car.” It’s a great car!

But $110 to go 240 miles is egregious, and so is having to park your car for weeks when the hydrogen stations aren’t working.

Even though there’s an awesome “H2O” button on the left side of the dashboard that release steaming water onto the road below, and even though there’s clearly a lot of engineering behind this machine, it’s impossible to overcome this big of a drawback.

 

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All Images: Toyota or The Autopian (unless otherwise noted)

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SCJeff
SCJeff
2 months ago

I hate driving behind those things on the freeway. There’s a constant mist of water splashing up from the road.

Mpphoto
Mpphoto
2 months ago
Reply to  SCJeff

This is something I’m curious about. David pointed out the button to release the water/steam. Your comment makes it sound like the car may jettison the water on its own. Living in a cold climate, I’d be concerned if there were a lot of hydrogen vehicles on the road emitting water and the water froze on the road surface. Yes, ICE cars do emit a bit of water in the exhaust, but it’s not enough to splash onto following vehicles or accumulate on the road.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
2 months ago
Reply to  Mpphoto

It seems like they could spend a nickel per car and put a sprayer tip from a Windex bottle on the end of that water outlet, and atomize the water to prevent that from happening. Especially if you mist it out of the car well above the road surface.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

If it weren’t for the low performance, the lack of fueling infrastructure and its “hey look at me and how ugly I am!!” styling I’d say the road icing feature might make a Mirai the perfect getaway vehicle for a Minnesota winter bank robbery.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
2 months ago

I was in LA in the beginning of December and I was so close to renting one of these off of Turo but forgot and just went with my original plan of the standard issue rental car spec V6 sporty car. After reading this, I’m glad that I didn’t rent the Mirai, I had read reports about the pumps often being out of order but I didn’t realize how expensive it would have been to fill up.

It all worked out well in the end, I ended up really liking the 21 Camaro I did end up getting as a rental. I doubt that the Mirai would have been nearly as fun as the Camaro was on Angeles Crest

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago

It seems like refueling one of these in cold climates would be problematic. If the nozzle is essentially freezing to the car while it is filling and needs to warm up before it can be removed, that would presumably be a major problem in a cold Midwestern winter. Would you have to wait until spring to be able to drive your car home? I suppose you could use some kind of heat source to warm it up, but that sounds like it could end Hindenburg-y. I can see why these cars never caught on.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stig's Cousin
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Aim your Bic lighter at the interface, bam, problem solved.

Ronald Pottol
Ronald Pottol
2 months ago

Hydrogen is a bad idea, Clean Technica has had a series on just how much of a boondoggle it is, here’s their most recent: California’s Hydrogen Stations Being Fixed More Hours Than Pumping At 30% Capex Per Year https://cleantechnica.com/2024/01/27/californias-hydrogen-stations-being-fixed-more-hours-than-pumping-at-15-capex-per-year/ via @cleantechnica

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
2 months ago

I think motor trend or C&D had one of these in their long term fleet a few years back…was really interesting to read about their experience.

There still seems to be potential, but there are sure a lot of things to figure out. Maybe just for commercial trucks…

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago

Maybe just for commercial trucks…”

I doubt it. The commercial truck market is way more TCO-sensitive than the consumer-grade automobile market. If hydrogen cars can’t make it in the consumer segment, they don’t have a snowballs chance in hell of making it in the commercial truck market.

Ronald Pottol
Ronald Pottol
2 months ago

They are not good, not at all Hydrogen Fleets Are Much More Expensive To Maintain Than Battery & Even Diesel https://cleantechnica.com/2024/01/26/hydrogen-fleets-are-much-more-expensive-to-maintain-than-battery-even-diesel/ via @cleantechnica

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

Assuming fossil fuels are taken off the table what then? Batteries?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Yes… and that is already happening.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

It is but not without its own set of problems. The Tesla semi has a 900 kWh battery and a range of 500 miles vs a diesel semi’s range of 1320-1800 miles. It would take a MW charger nearly an hour to charge that Tesla semi even at its fastest speed. So charging speed will be an issue unless you can manage to make a 3MW charging system.

Power draw is another. Because of the short range to match the convenience of diesel you will need (I’m guessing) 10-15 chargers per stop and triple the number of truck stops. That’s a BIG power draw. Electric truck stop will need their own substations or power plants.

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Incidentally, there was a Tesla Semi that was recently driven over 1000 miles in one day
https://electrek.co/2023/09/29/tesla-semi-travels-over-1000-miles-in-a-single-day/
And the source data is here:
https://results-2023.runonless.com/truck/?day=17&depot=pepsico&truck=pepsi_tesla3&units=imperial

And basically truckers have mandatory breaks they have to take anyway… so the solution is to charge when they are taking breaks.

And yeah… as more large electric trucks are put in service, maybe truck stops will need their own electric substations.

But implementing something like that isn’t new. It’s already done for electric trains and electric streetcars in a lot of places. It’s not like that kind of power need hasn’t been figured out.

And the cost of doing that is still nowhere near the cost of building out hydrogen infrastructure.

And I foresee another solution being implemented that takes a page out of what is done with electric trolley buses and electric trains… overhead charging.

This is already being implemented for electric transit buses in Toronto.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ttc-poweron-energy-solutions-10-new-electric-bus-charging-pantographs-1.6818844

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

That was 1000 miles in one day, not on one charge. It had to stop 3 times to charge. And I don’t think that test was done in cold weather.

“And basically truckers have mandatory breaks they have to take anyway… so the solution is to charge when they are taking breaks”

Which will also mean they have to take many of their breaks where their trucks can get a charge in a reasonable timeframe. God help them if the charger breaks!

“But implementing something like that isn’t new. It’s already done for electric trains and electric streetcars in a lot of places. It’s not like that kind of power need hasn’t been figured out.”

Electric trains and streetcars draw power constantly from the grid, they don’t carry it with them. They can also transfer that power back to the grid rather than into an onboard battery.

“And the cost of doing that is still nowhere near the cost of building out hydrogen infrastructure”

No argument from me on that one

“This is already being implemented for electric transit buses in Toronto”

That’s a VERY different use case. Those busses don’t go very far per day and head into the same barn to dedicated chargers each night. They also are designed to utilize en route overhead charging which highway cruising semis don’t have.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
2 months ago

I highly recommend this episode of The Smoking Tire Podcast. In it Zack Klapman tells the tale of going on a roadtrip in a hydrogen powered car, getting stranded at the only refueling station along the way, which was out of hydrogen when he got there, and what he learned from the guy who resupplied that station the next day. It was VERY educational.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoT2YHtQDho

Waremon0
Waremon0
2 months ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

This is only based on what I know working with CO2 but since they’re both stored as liquids (IIRC) I think the problems are similar. CO2 tanks are always emptied before filling. This is partly to be able to fill it accurately by weight, but also to reduce the internal bottle pressure to atmospheric pressures, down from ~800 psi typically, allowing the refilling tool to flow mostly unimpeded.

I suspect that if the Mirai’s tanks are not empty when you try to fill them, the remaining hydrogen is at a pressure that is pushing back against the pressure the pump can put out. If the pump can not push hydrogen at a psi differential significant enough to overcome the remaining hydrogen in the car, then it will stall.

Think about how much more effort it takes to pump up a bicycle tire from 80 to 90 psi than it does from 0 to 10 psi.

So with the current hydrogen pumps, you’re going to want to run your tank almost empty before refilling for best results. Do some burnouts in the parking lot of the station if you need to. More than the quantity of pumps or downtime, this is why I think hydrogen infrastructure is not up to the task right now. It’s hard to overcome physics.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
2 months ago
Reply to  Waremon0

That is very interesting! Makes a lot of sense!

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Waremon0

Emptying the tank before filling makes no sense. You’re just going to find yourself pushing against the exact same pressure part way through the fill.

Waremon0
Waremon0
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I’m only speaking on CO2, not hydrogen. CO2 is filled by weight because you are transferring the material in a liquid state at a low pressure. As a CO2 bottle heats up, some of the liquid boils into vapor creating a consistent head pressure of about 800 psi.

What we do with CO2 bottles is chill the fill bottle down to 40*F below the temperature of the mother bottle. The closer we can get the fill bottle to 0F, the better. Then we use a dip tube (metal straw) to extract only the liquid CO2 from the bottom of the mother bottle to transfill. The colder temperature in the fill bottle keeps the CO2 in a liquid state, preventing it from boiling into vapor and building up pressure. Lower temperature = lower energy = lower pressure.

To your point, yes, a compressed gas like N2 or Argon can only be equalized in pressure between the mother and the fill bottle so it doesn’t matter if you start from empty.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago

Now to a serious question: if propane is to diesel as N2O is to gasoline, what do you inject into a hydrogen vehicle to turn it up to 11?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Liquid nitroglycerin.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Fire

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

Fusion will tale it to 11…million.

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Lokki
Lokki
2 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

A match…

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
2 months ago

I think that purple liquid is from an ink dye pack like you’d see in clothing anti-theft devices or what banks use in bags of money. Previous owner of my car worked at a bank, and had one of those security packs go off in the passenger footwell; I tried different carpet cleaning methods for years and the water still came out purple.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

So the Mirai might have been a getaway car! Not the one I’d have chosen but vive la différence!

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

It certainly blends right in, and no one can specifically tell what it was. Perfect for crime.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

Second gen sure, first gen is too fugly to blend in anywhere.

Lokki
Lokki
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Actually – a Mirai IS perfect for a get-away car.

Bank Guard: “Officer I got a pretty good look at their car. It was white, looked Japanese, and it was silent. The plates were covered but I kind of saw the model name… it started with Mira…

Officer: Perfect! We’ll just have you look at pictures of the Mitsubishi Mirage…

Next – Prius

Next – All Japanese production cars

Next?????
…..
Six months pass

and:

Autopians can you help the police identify the car in these blurred photos?”

Last edited 2 months ago by Lokki
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

Autopians will get it!

Jeffrey Antman
Jeffrey Antman
2 months ago

Hey Toyota. Second law of thermodynamics called. You left your lunch pail in the hydrogen lab.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
2 months ago

So you can steam clean LA curbs/streets as you drive, cool. Maybe LA can subsidize the fuel costs for the cleaning?

Lokki
Lokki
2 months ago

Here’s another (occasional) disadvantage that may arise when refueling a hydrogen vehicle:

Fire engulfs Golden Empire Transit hydrogen bus and fueling station
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-toRJseb_o0

Explosion at hydrogen fuel plant damages homes, felt miles away
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iucbA0FOYu0

Norway: Explosion at hydrogen filling stationhttps://www.electrive.com/2019/06/11/norway-explosion-at-fuel-cell-filling-station/

Following hydrogen facility explosion, fuel-cell vehicle owners left strandedhttps://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/hydrogen-fuel-cell-car-california-explosion/

Fatal Explosion Slams South Korea’s Hydrogen Futurehttps://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Fuel-Cells/Fatal-Explosion-Slams-South-Koreas-Hydrogen-Future.html

To be fair, there are probably 300 or 400 Hydrogen Refueling Stations in the world so this isn’t likely to happen to you.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
2 months ago

I’ll give you 5 bucks to drink one 8oz glass of water directly from the tailpipe.

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
2 months ago

Mr. Tracy eats spaghetti in the shower and washes car parts in his dishwasher. I’d be surprised if he didn’t already sample some tailpipe water just for the heck of it.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago

It’s hot water! Make tea!

Data
Data
2 months ago

David’s really giving off Al Borland vibes in that shirt.

Sklooner
Sklooner
2 months ago

Isn’t there a hydrogen facility in Lakehurst New Jersey, something sticks in my mind about that

Lokki
Lokki
2 months ago
Reply to  Sklooner

That was a mobile unit, just passing through….

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago

What an incredible stroke of luck to run into that lady at the station. She was amazing!

Stryker_T
Stryker_T
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

she was fantastic to hear from! It was really great to hear about her experience.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Did you by chance get her contact info? I’d be curious to know her next automotive move. Specifically, when and how she disposes of the Mirai.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

“Specifically, when and how she disposes of the Mirai

I believe the plan mentions something about full replacement coverage….

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I have no idea what happened officer. It’s not like the keys were in the ignition and there was a Free Car sign or anything…

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

The problems with that nefarious plan is a stolen Mirai only has so many places to fill up and it can’t leave town under its own power.

Plus the bill from the first fill up will have the thief begging for the owner to take it back.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Agreed. And Micheline seems way to smart for that.

Then again, maybe park it outside Ed Begley Jr’s house?

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

Nah. Park it on the beach at low tide then go for a walk…

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Oh, that’s evil. Lol!

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
2 months ago

I drove one Hydrogen vehicle in my life and that was a Hydrogen Equinox at a GM show. Everyone wanted to drive the new g8 my wife and I were tired and just wanted to drive something, so we hopped in the hydrogen equinox. 120 miles of rage, but the best a/c on a stupid hot day

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
2 months ago
Reply to  Scott Ross

I laughed at 120 miles of rage

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Freelivin1327

Just another day on a LA freeway..

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

I’m assuming Galpin is sending this one straight to auction? I can’t imagine these are easy to sell second hand

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Give it to me! I have plans!!

Buuuuaaahhhaaaaa!!!!!

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
A. Barth
A. Barth
2 months ago

Fantastic – the opening sequence is no longer temporary! 🙂 (Although the video does indicate this is episode 4)

The Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center has a map of the public hydrogen stations here: https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen_locations.html#/find/nearest?fuel=HY

It looks like Los Angeles and San Francisco are the only viable places in the US to own a hydrogen car.

Otter
Otter
2 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Just after Christmas I saw my first Mirai in the wild. I thought I was hallucinating, and I’m sure the driver was creeped out as I passed very slowly to be sure.

Because… we were in central Pennsylvania on I-80 heading east. My head was spinning. How could it possibly have gotten there? Where could it possibly be going? The nearest filling station on that map is in Ontario, and there was no way it filled up there and could make it back.

A. Barth
A. Barth
2 months ago
Reply to  Otter

That’s a darn good question. 😮

Either it spent time being towed/transported or the owners outfitted it with a lot of additional fuel storage like a Cannonball car.

Or maybe they were planning to turn it into art wherever it died.

Ooooh, a fourth option: someone stuck Mirai badges on another Toyota to mess with people. 🙂

Last edited 2 months ago by A. Barth
Otter
Otter
2 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

You can cross off #4. I went from “That Prius looks funny” to “Hey, that’s not a Prius, could it be a Mirai” to a very slow approach to read the badge and get a look at the middle aged white guy behind the wheel, who avoided eye contact, exactly like other exotic car drivers do, cause they’re tired of being ogled by us geeks.

Otter
Otter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Nope. That’s gray and this one was black. But crazy things happen. I once took a leak next to Tom Hanks, so…

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Otter

Was he Big like in the movie?

Otter
Otter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

He’s an actor, man. He’s whatever you want him to be.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Otter

David S Pumpkins!

Any questions?

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
2 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I was at a Toyota dealership near Sacramento and the salesman told me not to bother with the Mirai. He said there are 4 stations around the area but they’re often out of service.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Just don’t leave town.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
2 months ago

The closest hydrogen station to me is in Quebec and is 1300 miles away.

What in the hell was Toyota thinking with this? Is hydrogen a thing in Japan?

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
2 months ago

Toyota makes so much money, they can afford to swing for the fences. In this case, they struck out. But if it had worked, they’d be sitting pretty.
That’s the nature of “business enterprise”.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago

I don’t have all the details and links at hand, but it’s an unhappy confluence of an attempt at Japanese power independence, Japan subsidizing efforts to that effect, the outsize influence of Toyota on the Japanese economy and government, and perpetually trying to make “fetch” a thing.

Number One Dad
Number One Dad
2 months ago

Before lithium-ion batteries came along and could store enough energy to drive a car, there was a solid decade or two where the only viable clean fuel technology on anybody’s radar was hydrogen. Japanese car companies spent a fortune on R&D, getting ready for the day when somebody figured out how to manufacture it in bulk, which is why they were caught completely flat-footed by modern EVs and are still scrambling to catch up. I assume they’re available in California because they make good compliance cars.

Hydrogen looks so amazing on paper (it’s the most abundant substance in the universe!) until you realize it binds with pretty much anything, and we live in a planet with an atmosphere, so the only way to get ahold of it involves lots of industrial chemicals or electrolysis, which is so wildly inefficient you’d be better off just rolling coal everywhere. (Unless we invent fusion or some other way to create unlimited pollution-free electricity. Any second now!)

Berck
Berck
2 months ago
Reply to  Number One Dad

We already have a way to create unlimited pollution-free electricity. It’s called fission. It’s pretty much trivial to get hydrogen from a nuclear power plant.

Millermatic
Millermatic
2 months ago
Reply to  Berck

Unlimited pollution-free energy from… fission?

I don’t think you are thinking through the whole process. Waste disposal is a _huge_ problem.

Berck
Berck
2 months ago
Reply to  Millermatic
Millermatic
Millermatic
2 months ago
Reply to  Berck

Interesting read and gross oversimplification.

But hey… according to the author…. Most waste is safe (unless you eat it!) in only 600 years.

It’s not just the waste. It’s the security. The cost. The potential for accidents.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m pro-nuclear (fission and fusion). But “pollution free,” and “trivial” are two words that absolutely _don’t_ apply to nuclear power.

Scottingham
Scottingham
2 months ago
Reply to  Millermatic

If you can store 100% of your pollution in barrels, it’s not really an issue in the same sense that C02, coal ash, or methane emissions are.

With the right tech, all existing nuclear fission sites could run off the fuel/waste already on site. Of course, the right tech does not exist, and couldn’t with current laws.

Millermatic
Millermatic
2 months ago
Reply to  Scottingham

Again… I’m generally pro-nuclear. But it’s mind-boggling complicated – the science, the economics and the politics. None of those are “trivial” issues to solve.

And because of those challenges… it’s not a “fast” answer either.

I’m quite interested in Hydrogen fuel cells… but I want to acknowledge the huge infrastructure challenges going to hydrogen fuel cell cars presents – specifically production, transportation and dispensing of the hydrogen. Building Code would classify dispensing stations as “Class H” (high hazard) occupancy. From experience… I’ll offer that building H Occupancy buildings can be a regulatory headache. And expensive. Now build them on every other street corner of the country.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Millermatic

No its really not.

If you can turn it into new nuclear fuel do it. Reprocessing has been a thing for a long time.

If not, and if what you need to get rid of is too dangerous to have around then decades of Soviet dumping, south sea weapons tests and the tragic losses of many nuclear powered and armed warships all with no demonstrated harm to the environment (and yes those places are being monitored) have proven many times over dilution is indeed the solution. Seawater is an excellent radiation shield and there is plenty of it. Even the nuked lagoons of the South Pacific made amazing comebacks. All that was accomplished by happenstance without even TRYING to keep the stuff contained.

Sub seabed disposal is even safer. Any containment breech is quickly arrested by seafloor muck. Gravity does the rest. Disposal sites have been geologically stable for millions of years and are expected to stay that way for millions more. No on site security needed either and IMO THAT is the real problem. That’s the cash cow that keeps the waste disposal “problem” alive.

Millermatic
Millermatic
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I’m happy to get into all of this at some point… but for now we will have to agree to disagree. And I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you aren’t in a position to influence policy decisions. History is full of examples of the risks of casually saying “it’s not that bad.” I don’t claim to be a nuclear physicist. But I work with them on a regular basis… and I have a healthy respect for radiation.

Last edited 2 months ago by Millermatic
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Millermatic

I have a healthy respect for radiation.

As well you should. Radiation is nasty stuff. So are a lot of things we use every day. Electricity, fire, household chemicals and can do terrible things to you too if you are careless with them but that doesn’t stop you from using them does it?

History is full of examples of the risks of casually saying “it’s not that bad.

And sometimes they are right:

https://www.nytimes.com/1993/04/27/science/russians-describe-extensive-dumping-of-nuclear-waste.html

NYT article from 30 years ago describing the extend of the Soviet dumping. Lots of stuff dumped, no harm yet shown. Even Greenpeace who was out there protesting at the time can today only object with what if-isms.

https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2019-08-sunken-soviet-sub-leaking-high-levels-of-radiation-norwegian-researchers-say

One of the worst nuclear warship wrecks. Its leaking a LOT of Cesium-137, one of the worst components of nuclear fallout and Chernobyl yet down there it’s no big deal.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/15/quite-odd-coral-and-fish-thrive-on-bikini-atoll-70-years-after-nuclear-tests

Nuked TWENTY FOUR times including by Castle Bravo, one of the most powerful bombs ever built – the ocean is doing just fine!

(note: my point is limited to the effects on the ocean – the effects above ground are a different matter.)

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1996/10/the-sub-seabed-solution/308434/

Describes the sub seabed disposal solution. Potential waste sites are located hundreds of miles from shore (maybe thousands of miles from any significant human habitation) under MILES of radiation shielding water, trapped by gravity and sealed under many feet of waste arresting muck.

So where’s the problem?

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Millermatic
Millermatic
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Again… I’m glad you aren’t making policy decisions. The issue is too complicated to distill in this forum… but a couple of questions come to mind. First? What exactly are you proposing again? I’ve lost track. We know that waste can be stored (relatively) safely. But at what cost? (Do you have any studies/cost estimates on this under-seabed storage solution?)

(Upon further reading… I find the first article you posted to be laughable. “Waste is fine in 600 years… you only have alpha particles at that point… which only hurt if you eat or inhale them. And who would eat or inhale them?” First… 600 years is an awfully long time. Second… Ask the kids that were hurt by eating lead paint who might eat radioactive contamination. Or coal miners with silicosis. Or people exposed to deteriorating asbestos. Alpha particles, if ingested, are extremely dangerous. Ask Alexander Litvinenko.)

And on many levels… the ocean is _not_ doing just fine. Warming, microplastics, coral dying off, dead zones. But you _think_ it will be fine to add nuclear waste to the mix. I’d rather not take the chance, thanks. There are better options.

It seems you just want to argue and prove a point. If it’s that nuclear waste is not a big deal? I’ll cede it if you agree to store it all in your backyard.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Millermatic

What exactly are you proposing again? I’ve lost track.

I am saying the “issue” of nuclear waste disposal is purely a political one, not technical nor environmental.

We know that waste can be stored (relatively) safely. But at what cost? (Do you have any studies/cost estimates on this under-seabed storage solution?)

Me? No. Funding for subseabed disposal was put into Yucca mountain which itself was abandoned for political, not technical reasons.

Even so the concept is simple enough:

1) Put wastes into specially designed waste containers not all that different from what they are in now but streamlined.

2) Load containers onto a ship and sail it out to an undisclosed location in the ocean hundreds of miles from shore and over a couple/few miles of water.

3) Drop the containers off the ship.

That’s it.

The containers then drop at high speed to the ocean floor. The speed, high mass and streamlined shape will cause the containers to embed themselves many feet into the muck under the sea floor. The shock wave will cause the hole to self seal behind the container. The container will then stay under the ocean for deep time.

Thanks to the vastness of the ocean, the pressure of the depths involved and the anonymous location under the ocean floor no further dedicated security or attention is need other than what would otherwise exist (see below).

But what about bad actors?!

Even if bad buys were to find the location of the secret dump site they’d still have to contend with the depths of the ocean. Ask OceanGate how that goes.

But for the sake of argument let’s say they figure that out.

Then they’d have to pinpoint EXACTLY where the containers are in a featureless plain of a few hundred square miles or so. Water is an excellent radiation shield and there’s plenty of background down there so I wouldn’t expect a Geiger counter to be of much use.

THEN figure out how to extract the containers

THEN how to get those very heavy containers to the surface.

THEN how to get them to shore before being obviated by those listening in and watching from the sky:

https://irp.fas.org/program/collect/sosus.htm

https://maritime-executive.com/article/satellite-rf-tracking-follows-the-dark-ships-that-ais-can-t-see

THEN not be killed from handling the stuff.

Hey terrorists! Go ahead, make my day!

TL:DR Sub seabed disposal – It’s safe, it’s cheap, it’s permanent.

Upon further reading… I find the first article you posted to be laughable.

Yeah, that wasn’t me.

And on many levels… the ocean is _not_ doing just fine. Warming, microplastics, coral dying off, dead zones. But you _think_ it will be fine to add nuclear waste to the mix.

I cited the examples of Soviet dumping, the loss of nuclear warships and the nuking of Bikini Atoll to show that even the absolute worst case situations with no containment at all for even the worst kind of wastes resulted in no harm even after decades of monitoring. If it was going to happen it would have already happened.

FYI the vast majority of the radioactive material in the ocean is natural and has been there long before humans

https://www.whoi.edu/multimedia/source-of-radioactivity-in-the-ocean/

Oceanic warming has nothing to do with nuclear power other than nuclear power displaced for fossil fuels.

Microplastics also have nothing to do with nuclear power.

As to coral and dead zones…

Palumbi said to the naked eye the crabs, fish and coral of Bikini Atoll look perfectly normal and healthy, and some of the coral has been around for decades – with evidence it may have begun growing as soon as 10 years after the last bombs were dropped.

Coral does just fine. As do fish and other sea critters even after literally being nuked many times.

There are better options.

Perhaps. Solar and wind are great…when they work. Same with hydro (as in a drought).

Geothermal? Maybe, the jury’s still out on that. As of the moment only 0.4% of the US energy mix comes from geothermal.

It seems you just want to argue and prove a point. If it’s that nuclear waste is not a big deal? I’ll cede it if you agree to store it all in your backyard.

I’d be ecstatic to do that if I were paid what the folks to store waste are paid. Easy money!

Unfortunately my neighbors are a bunch of pearl clutching NIYBYs.

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Number One Dad

Hydrogen looks so amazing on paper (it’s the most abundant substance in the universe!)

Great if you’re powering a star, not so great if you’re powering a car..

Stryker_T
Stryker_T
2 months ago

they only really sold this thing there in California where there were any kind of filling stations available.

if the area didn’t have them, you couldn’t really buy one.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
2 months ago

I saw several of these being used as taxis in Paris. Kept trying to flag one down, but kept getting stuck with boring old Priuses instead.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

You should have screamed “now that’s some high quality H20!!!”

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Did any of the drivers name their Mirai Mathieu ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUi9ikGUcQs

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
2 months ago

I wouldn’t take a Mirai if you gave it to me. Once the subsidies run out, anything hydrogen is going to get even more expensive and less available.

Hydrogen is simply not an efficient way to store energy. It costs too much to generate, too much to transport, and even too much to store. It’s a very lossy way to store energy for future work.

We should remain focused on batteries and synthetic fuels that are liquid at ordinary temperatures.

Last edited 2 months ago by PaysOutAllNight
Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago

I’ve always appreciated that hydrogen is really hard to transport, too, because it’s so small. I don’t know why but the idea that a proton + electron vs a big chonking CH4 molecule making such a big difference kind of cracks me up.

Berck
Berck
2 months ago

There are ways to store lots of hydrogen liquid at ordinary temperature. Ammonia, for one.

Lithium Ion batteries are a dumb way to store energy. They cost too much to produce, they wear out quickly, and most important for transportation, they weigh literal tons. Not to mention take forever to charge, catch on fire and require lots of precious metals to produce.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Berck

David’s jeep could be converted to a hydrogen power train and use the ammonia left behind by the kittens.

Millermatic
Millermatic
2 months ago
Reply to  Berck

You realize ammonia is hazardous, too?

Berck
Berck
2 months ago
Reply to  Millermatic

Of course. As is gasoline and lithium batteries. My point is mostly that hydrogen has storage and infrastructure problems that are tractable and worth solving. I think it’s great that Tesla managed to prove that electric vehicles work in the real world, but I worry we’re jumping to the wrong tech prematurely. The fact that Toyota persists isn’t an obviously dumb thing like so many commenters here are making it out to be. Lithium batteries cannot, for instance, power airliners. And we’d all be a lot better off if they didn’t (even though they can) power our cars. It’s possibly that “solid state” batteries are the answer, but I don’t think it’s time to give up on hydrogen. Yet.

Tap-n-Die And Some WD-40
Tap-n-Die And Some WD-40
2 months ago

I rented one of the second-gens via Turo last time I was in LA. I had about the same experience as you (unremarkable driving experience, slightly cramped interior, interesting whooshing noise of science happening when you accelerated).

But I couldn’t believe how hard the refueling process was! I went to four different H2 stations in the area before I found one that worked, and it was still about $100 to fill up 3/4 of a tank.

Can’t imagine living with one day-to-day. I’d rather have David’s Leaf.

The Dude
The Dude
2 months ago

I was wondering what the costs were if you had to actually pay for hydrogen. For a time I considered leasing one of these due to the free hydrogen refilling credits, but opted not to because there weren’t any hydrogen stations near my home.

I actually really like the idea of a hydrogen based vehicle if the refilling economics and availability were more favorable.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

Hey maybe use the engine in an RV. They already get 10 mph and you could use the hot steam to fill the water heater for cooking and showers.

Space
Space
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Not a bad idea You could use the hydrogen directly for the oven and the range too.

D-dub
D-dub
2 months ago

It’s a decent looking car

Time to update your lens prescription!

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