While Hyundai has beaten Toyota as the first automaker to put a hydrogen-powered vehicle in the hands of consumers in the U.S., now it’s Toyota’s turn to see if it can get the alternative fuel to catch on and spread. For now, Toyota’s playing things safe as it plans to sell the Mirai through only eight California dealerships.
Four of the lucky dealers are in the Bay Area – San Francisco Toyota, Roseville Toyota, Stevens Creek Toyota and Toyota of Sunnyvale. The remainder are located nearer Los Angeles – Toyota Santa Monica, Longo Toyota, Toyota of Orange and Tustin Toyota. Each one was selected for a proven track record of selling technically-advanced vehicles, plus they are all situated nearby public hydrogen fueling stations.
Car shoppers can’t just go pick up a Mirai. First of all, all buyers must live in California. The cars also won’t just be sitting on dealer lots. Instead, consumers will get online and order one, then specify the dealer where they want to finalize the purchase.
The Mirai’s sticker price has been set at $58,325, which demonstrates the cost of being an early adopter. Toyota believes it won’t have trouble moving stock, though, as Automotive News reports that the automaker has projected about 3,000 Mirais will go to consumers by the close of 2017.
One of the big challenges Toyota is facing with the Mirai is the lack of hydrogen fueling infrastructure in the United States. Even though California boasts by far the most robust network of hydrogen stations, they’re still pretty sparse in the state. Several organizations are working to alleviate that problem.
Opposition to the Mirai is also coming from people who are openly doubting the technology and its overall value. Many are saying that hydrogen fuel cells are too expensive or impractical when compared to other technologies, especially all-electric powertrains. Toyota has a legacy of defying popular opinion and bringing about huge changes in the industry, which is exactly what it did with the Prius years ago. Plenty of naysayers repeated over and over that hybrid powertrains wouldn’t work then, and Toyota believes it will prove them wrong again.