Tag: fuel cell car
Automotive News and Transport Evolved recently interviewed LAcarGuy owner Mike Sullivan about the Toyota Mirai and about how his Toyota dealership in Santa Monica California is one of just eight dealerships in the country releasing the product early on.
The Mirai is One Car Sullivan Isn’t Selling
Don’t get me wrong, the Toyota Mirai will be available for order at Toyota of Santa Monica, and it will be available there earlier than most other places in the world. While the car’s going to be in stock, Mike Sullivan explains that getting the cars to customers is more of a matchmaking process than it is a numbers game like most vehicles are. This is because he wants to make sure that each and every one of the early adopters truly loves the car.
If a buyer comes into the dealership and requests the vehicle the dealership will look them over and decide if the car is a good fit for their lifestyle. If it isn’t they will actually turn customers down and redirect them to a more suitable vehicle. This isn’t to be mean, or to be overly exclusive. It’s just to make sure that customers aren’t unhappy with their purchase.
This is what Sullivan had to say about the challenge of selling the Mirai.“With everything else on my lot, I’m selling something. It’s what I do,” “This car is the exact opposite. It’s the reverse of selling. We’re going to turn people down if this isn’t the car for you.”
Challenges with the Mirai
The Toyota Mirai isn’t a bargain car with a starting price of $58,325 and initially it won’t be the easiest to refuel with just a handful of hydrogen refueling stations around California. For these two reasons the vehicle simply isn’t going to be a good fit for everyone. If you don’t live close enough to refueling stations it will be a burden fueling up the car. If you’re looking for a bargain car this one’s likely too expensive.
Choosing the Original Mirai Dealerships
The first eight stores stocked with the Mirai were all chosen for a list of specific reasons. They are all located near planned hydrogen fueling stations. They are all high-volume electric and hybrid selling locations and they have the finances to handle any upgrades necessary to make the sales possible.
Giving Customers an Early Look at the Mirai
Mike Sullivan has been working hard to promote the Mirai and everything the vehicle stands for. He even hopped on the live streaming program Periscope to give dozens of interested people a walk around look at the Mirai in real time.
Introducing the Mirai Champion
Many of the eight Toyota dealerships to start off selling the Mirai before any others in the country plan on assigning a single employee to serve as the Mirai expert. This Mirai Champion will talk with every customer interested in buying the hydrogen fuel-cell car. The hope with assigning a single person to the task is that they become an expert on the matter and provide a more reliable and consistent buying experience for each of the Mirai shoppers. A similar strategy was employed by Nissan when the company began selling the LEAF to customers.
Toyota of Santa Monica Upgrades
To get the Toyota dealership ready to sell the Mirai a number of improvements have to be made to it. The first is an upgrade to the repair center so that repairs and services can be performed on the Mirai after it starts selling to customers. That way customers have a place they can take the vehicle if any work needs to be performed. Sullivan is also planning to add a personal hydrogen refueling station so that dealership customers can refuel their vehicles after making the purchase. This will cost around $150,000 for the dealership to do, but it’s a small price to make the dealership more accessible and it’s a real perk for customers that live in the area.
Toyota has finally announced more information about their eagerly awaited hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In Tokyo City less than a week ago they showed off what the exterior of the new sedan will look like and also gave a price and an expected release date for the vehicle. The only catch, all of this information only pertains to the Japanese model of the car. Toyota spoke briefly about a tentative release date of a similar vehicle in Europe and the United States, but it’s not as firm as the Japanese model.
Hydrogen fuel cell is one of the newest and most exciting ways to power a vehicle, and now the people of Japan have a deadline for when they can start buying Toyota’s first commercially-available hydrogen-powered vehicle. They expect to release the car before April of 2015, and it is expected to be priced at 7 million Yen, that’s approximately $69,000 by today’s exchange rates.
A Long Time Coming
Even though many people have only heard of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in the last few years Toyota has been working on the concept heavily for the past 20 years, trying to develop the vehicle that they will be releasing soon. All of the time and effort put into this research put the automotive giant ahead of most automakers with this technology, allowing them to pioneer it much the same way that the Prius did for hybrid cars.
Improvements and Performance Expectations
Initially the fuel cell technology Toyota was relying on was not advanced enough to offer performance levels similar to a gasoline powered vehicle. Today Toyota says that’s not the case. Their current vehicle can travel up to 700 km (435 miles) on a single set of cells. Not only that but the refueling time for this vehicle is a mere three minutes, which is very comparable to gasoline vehicles as well. Now the only real hurdles left to overcome are getting up all of the necessary refueling stations to make travel with this vehicle convenient, and figuring out how to make these vehicles even more affordable. As long as fuel cell technology takes off as well as many people expect it to, these other issues will sort themselves out with time.
The Benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Fuel cells are much more environmentally friendly than gasoline is because they don’t emit any pollutants during operation, and can be made using clean energy sources such as wind and solar power. They are also expected to be more sustainable than fossil-fuel-reliant gasoline is making them a great source of power for future generations. If you live in Europe or the US you’ll have to wait until sometime in the summer before getting a chance to own one of these beauties, and pricing information hasn’t been made available yet.