Tag: fuel cell vehicle
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 just begun production of the Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and the first few models should start rolling around public roadways in the next couple weeks. The car is only being sold in limited locations initially, mainly because there isn’t a hydrogen refueling infrastructure to support the vehicles yet, and it will only be available in small numbers for the first couple years, but Toyota is making it happen and actually producing the highly anticipated vehicles for mass consumption.
Vehicles are Becoming Available Daily
Now that production of the Mirai has begun approximately three new vehicles will roll off the assembly line on a daily basis at the plant. This is just the starting point for vehicle production and it’s set to increase over time. There is a greater demand for the Mirai than expected, especially from Japan, and that’s making it crucial for the plant to begin producing higher volumes of the car over time.
Seeing How its Made
Perhaps in hopes of familiarizing people with hydrogen cars a bit more, Toyota wants the world to know what goes into its newest cars and has put together a series of short videos detailing the construction process. These little “How its Made” videos give you a firsthand look into the Mirai and the hard work involved with building one.
If you would like to see how the Mirai is made you can see the various stages in the videos below.
A Higher Profile Plant
It’s no surprise that the Mirai construction is going to take place at the Motomachi plant in Toyota City Japan. This is where many of the high-profile Toyota and Lexus vehicles are created, and where a vehicle as important as the Mirai should be manufactured. The plant was home to the Lexus LFA supercar, as well as many other high-profile vehicles such as the Supra, the Soarer and the Corona. The plant is known for its highly skilled workforce, and should help improve the quality of the finished product.
About the Mirai
If you haven’t heard much about the Toyota Mirai yet, its the first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and is going to be out on the roads shortly. The vehicle is capable of getting 300 miles on each fill up and generates a total of 153 horsepower. The car costs about $45,000 and only limited numbers will be available during the first few years of production. Toyota hopes that it will pull consumers away from current gasoline powered vehicles and that it becomes the new mainstream form of mobility, but there are still hydrogen production and infrastructure details to work out before the technology becomes mainstream.