Is this the anti-Volt?

Sales are projected to be slow to start. And slow for a while. In Japan more than expected demand did spur Toyota to increase production.

Toyota is giving white-glove-with-rhinestone level of customer care on this car handed it to market from the Japanese corporate HQ.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rated the 2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle for 67 mpg gas gallon equivalent (GGE) and 312 miles range.

And, fuel is free, as is maintenance, an infotainment suite, 24/7 customer support, roadside assistance, maintenance, rental benefits, and more – with asterisks attached to all these benefits, of course.

In a statement issued today for the veritable package deal starting at $57,500 , Toyota said the Mirai sets a record among all zero-emission cars for range.

“Mirai is the only zero emission electric vehicle on the market that tops the 300 mile range milestone,” said Toyota.

The Mirai will be the “world’s first mass produced” FCV says Toyota, although Honda has had its pioneering FCX Clarity in limited production since 2008 and Hyundai has beat Toyota to the market with its Tucson FCV.

The Mirai’s newly minted EPA rating of 67 mpg GGE and 312 miles range also eclipses its two H-brand competitors. The 2014 Honda FCX Clarity is rated 59 mpg GGE combined, 58 city, 60 highway. The 2016 Hyundai Tucson is rated 50 mpg GGE combined, 49 city, 51 highway.

Honda is preparing a five-passenger replacement for the FCX to arrive after the Mirai. Source: EPA

And, an apple-to-orange comparison to be sure, the Mirai’s 67 mpg is 5 mpg above a very theoretical “62 mpg” the EPA officially pins on the 2015 Chevy Volt. Being a plug-in hybrid, the Volt may operate on pure electricity or on gas, but 62 mpg combined is the calculated average based on EPA formulations.

As for range, the Mirai beats the Honda FCX Clarity’s 231 miles and Hyundai Tucson FCVs’ 265. And, it edges out the highest range battery electric car, Tesla’s 270-mile Model S.

Not unlike an internal combustion car, range is a function of the fuel tank, which in Toyota's case is a carbon-fiber wrapped, bulletproof capsule to contain gaseous hydrogen at over 10,000 psi.

Toyota has seen a bit of a rivalry with Tesla whose chairman declared FCVs are bovine manure and Toyota in turn ran with that and made a commercial based on it and is marketing the car as capable of running on fuel derived from cow waste.

In fact, FCVs run on hydrogen which more-often comes from natural gas feed stock. California rules where FCVs are being launched require 33 percent renewably sourced fuel, such as from waste gases.

FCVs are otherwise a type of all-electric vehicle and despite controversy seen over their energy equation by plug-in electrified vehicle advocates, Toyota is pushing this through.

“Toyota realized in the early 90’s that electrification was key to the future of the automobile,” said Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz. “Just as the Prius introduced hybrid-electric vehicles to millions of customers nearly twenty years ago, the Mirai is now poised to usher in a new era of efficient, hydrogen transportation.”

The Prius was launched in Japan in 1997, and in the U.S. in 2000. It’s led to sales of more than seven million Toyota and Lexus hybrids globally and has made an early name for Toyota as an environmentally concerned company.

But as automakers like Renault-Nissan, Tesla, GM, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and several more are going to plug-in cars more publicly, Toyota has been outspoken for hydrogen’s potential while having made a few statements casting doubt on plug-in viability in comparison.

Actually, despite the PR perceptions and verbal daggers and allegations of near-betrayal, as the case may be, all automakers (except Tesla) have committed to FCVs in the next 5-10 year timeframe, if not as bullishly and outspokenly as Toyota.

As a global top-three leading manufacturer, deep-pocketed Toyota from Japan has decided to put its stake in the ground and declare itself a visionary in the face of the other visionaries like Tesla chief Elon Musk and Renault-Nissan head Carlos Ghosn, among others.

While taking a pass on plug-ins except its now-canceled RAV4 EV built with Tesla powertraijn, and Prius PHEV, Toyota says it is paving the way for “the next 100 years” with a “hydrogen economy.”

To make it as comfortable as possible, its first FCV comes in $100 more than the original price projected for a 40-kwh Tesla Model S that was canceled before deliveries began.

And, the FCV with a “T” on the badging as a symbol of corporate pride might as well have an “L” for Lexus for all the perks Toyota is folding in.

In all the package deal includes:

• Three years’ worth of complimentary fuel [1]
• Three years complimentary Safety Connect and Entune, including hydrogen station finder app.
• Three years of 24/7 customer call support.
• Mirai Complimentary Rental Experience for seven days per year for three years.[2]
• ToyotaCare[3], our standard no cost service plan and roadside assistance, is enhanced for Mirai and offers:
o No cost scheduled maintenance for three years, or 35,000 miles, whichever comes first[4].
o No cost enhanced roadside assistance[5] for three years, regardless of mileage, including expedited towing service and trip interruption reimbursement at a maximum of $500 per day for up to 5 days per incident.[6]
• 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on key fuel cell vehicle components including the FC stack and power control unit; FC hydrogen tanks; hybrid battery pack and ECU; FC air compressor, boost converter and ECU; hybrid control module (power management control module); and hydrogen fueling ECU.[4]

And, here are the qualifying footnotes:
[1] Complimentary fuel for 3 years or $15,000 maximum, whichever comes first. Fuel program starts after receipt and activation of fuel card; fuel card is nontransferable. Fueling must be done at approved SAE certified stations.
[2] The seven complimentary days per year will expire after each year and any unused days will not carry over.
[3] ToyotaCare covers normal factory scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. 24-hour roadside assistance is also included for two years, regardless of mileage. Valid only at authorized Mirai Fuel Cell dealers in the continental United States. See dealer for details and exclusions.
[4] Covers normal factory scheduled maintenance and is valid only at authorized Mirai Fuel Cell dealers in the continental United States. See dealer for details and exclusions.
[5] Does not include parts and fluids.
[6] Trip reimbursement covers interruptions that require the Toyota dealership to keep such vehicle overnight and such Covered Vehicle is at the time of such disablement more than fifty (50) miles from the residence of the owner of the Covered Vehicle. See an Authorized Mirai Fuel Cell dealer for details and exclusions.

This summer qualified California customers can "request" a Mirai by visiting . And, they can visit now for more info and followup by Toyota regarding exact Mirai order request launch timing.

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