Exhaust Fumes

Toyota Drinks The Hydrogen Kool-Aid At Its Own Peril

It’s a mistake to think that the road ahead looks the same for every automaker. Although nearly all other major brands have made the pivot towards an all-EV tomorrow, Toyota remains a major outlier, a company that helped pioneer the hybrid revolution but stopped short of jumping on the battery-electric bandwagon. Its current lineup features only a single battery-electric model, despite being one of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers — and even that example, the curiously-named bZ4X, has so far been more of a disappointment than a revelation. Even Lexus, its luxury division, is still awaiting the arrival of the all-electric RZ, which should hit dealers later this year. 

Instead of preparing for a battery-based tomorrow, Toyota has over the past decade extolled the virtues of a mixed approach to modern motoring that consists primarily of traditional internal combustion engines, plug-in hybrid designs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. It’s the latter that has pushed the company furthest towards the fringes of the electrified mainstream, for while other badges such as BMW and Hyundai have experimented with tech demonstrator fleets and low-volume lease programs, these have typically been situated in the context of a more comprehensive battery-powered plan.

Driving the Toyota Mirai was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had with an automobile, thanks in large part to the make-believe that comes bundled with Toyota’s twin hydrogen push and BEV denial strategies.

If you’re going to convince customers to adopt a completely new fuel system, you better make sure that the vehicle at the tip of the spear is designed to impress. Instead, the Mirai is resolutely average in every category, giving the impression that Toyota’s interest in hydrogen is just as lukewarm as its reluctant adoption of battery-powered EVs. Read all about it here at Inside Hook.

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