Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai can go 312 miles without needing a fuel refill, nabbing the previous title away from Tesla Model S’s 270-mile range.
At the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival last week, Toyota announced its hydrogen-powered Mirai can achieve a range of 312 miles, marking the the most a zero-emissions car can reach to date.
The Mirai, named after the Japanese word for “future,” uses a fuel cell to convert hydrogen into electricity, which is used to power an electric motor. Thanks to the hydrogen usage, the only exhaust the Mirai produces is water vapor.
While it only takes five minutes to fill the Mirai with hydrogen, a Tesla Model S requires over an hour for a full charge at a Supercharger Station or longer at home.
While the superior range and the fast fill-up time may sound like a decisive win for the Mirai, they come with a huge caveat: As of now, there are just 12 hydrogen filling stations in the U.S., and only two outside of California.
An electric car can be charged from any conventional outlet — like the ones you have at home — or at a variety of public charging stations. Tesla has 200 of its fast Supercharger stations in the U.S. alone.
So, while there are benefits to hydrogen, only people in a very small area of the country can enjoy them.
Toyota highlights on its website California intends to have 100 hydrogen filling stations by 2020, but there’s no way of knowing if this will be come a reality. Even if there are 100 filling stations by 2020, they will surely lag behind electric charging stations in terms of pure numbers.
It’s also worth putting that 312-mile figure into context: let’s compare the Mirai to Toyota’s similarly-sized, gas-powered Camry. A basic 4-cylinder Camry LE will get about 476 miles of range based on the EPA-estimated average fuel economy of 28 mpg and a gas tank size of 17 gallons. A hybrid version of the Camry LE should be good for 697 miles of range, based on its 41 mpg average fuel economy.
Of course no fuel economy numbers are ever exact, because it depends on how and where the car is being driven, but even if you were to only average 19 mpg in a Camry, you’d still best the Mirai’s range. Although 312 is more than enough to get you to work and back — and if it isn’t, move or get a new job — a road trip would be quite a stretch.
Hydrogen has huge appeal because of its abundance and zero-emissions status but wide adoption seems like it would only come in the distant future, if at all. The Mirai is an interesting experiment, and hydrogen cars are worth researching, but the people buying them will likely be extreme early adopters.