On December 8, 2017 I leased a 2017 Toyota Mirai. I traded in my 2016 Buick Encore, which was a fine car that averaged 27MPG on the highway. With a roundtrip commute of ±100 miles I had been spending a sizable fortune on gas. Every $45 fill-up funneled my income to the oil hegemony and caused my “inexpensive” monthly lease payment to inflate to within the range of a far more luxurious vehicle. So naturally I wanted to escape both the costly and frequent fill-ups and the illusion of a cheap SUV/crossover.
This is where Toyota’s Mirai lease incentives provided me a substantial reward for becoming a “trailblazer” and driving a hydrogen fuel cell car—even while there remains a dearth of fueling station infrastructure. The car comes with $15,000 of complimentary fuel preloaded onto a Mirai-branded Mastercard. All you have to do is use this card at any fueling station and the fuel is “free.” Luckily there are several stations that are easily accessible to me: Diamond Bar, UCI, and Anaheim, with Ontario coming online soon.
*UPDATE: As of May, 2018, the Ontario station is online*
The car’s fuel cell technology uses hydrogen and outside air that enters through the grill to create the energy necessary to power the car. It then drives like an electric car, with a one-gear sensation, slight whine, and rather responsive acceleration. Its sole emission is water.
More thoughts about the “drive” in future posts!
On my drive home from Tustin Toyota to Claremont, several drivers honked/waved at me. A few offered thumbs up. Some looked on without emotion, perhaps caused by the traffic and not me or the car (probably).
While sitting in gridlocked traffic on the 241/91 interchange about halfway home (notoriously sluggish and perhaps not improving anytime soon), a man driving a Toyota Tundra honked and asked me to roll down my window.
“No gas, right?” he asked. “This is the car that uses no gas?”
I nodded and shouted out my window that the Mirai uses only hydrogen fuel.
“No gas!” he said again. “I love it!” He then gestured toward the gridlock with his hand, I guess implying that the 91’s endless congestion of diesel trucks and cars and pickups and SUVs are all burning fossil fuels and that we’re all breathing those fumes.
The specifics of my model are:
Color: Nautical Blue Metallic
Interior: Warm White
Our first day out to the park…
Special thanks to Andy and Ryan at Tustin Toyota, both of whom are also Mirai drivers, and who perhaps one day I’ll see at a fueling station.