Toyota Exploring 2016 Mirai Fuel Cell Green Fleet Options
As the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Actually that’s an old saying which is pretty barbaric in these more polite times–but it’s still accurate. And for the record, I don’t think the origin is based on harming housecats.
Anyway…In December, Toyota introduced the Mirai, their new fuel cell vehicle. The new vehicle is part of a strategy to put Toyota clearly at the front of the line when it comes to advanced powertrain technology. It also positions an island nation to move towards real energy independence.
Toyota has begun discussing its 2016 Mirai fuel cell vehicle with fleet customers, and will roll out a strategy to place the vehicle in the hands of commercial and government fleet users in 2015…“The Mirai’s game-changing technology could fit into commercial or government fleets with centralized fueling and seeking to send a green message to their communities or customers,” said Mark Oldenburg, Toyota’s national fleet marketing, mobility and strategic planning manager.
I have to agree with Mark. For an industry obsessed with milking as much mileage out of an asset while trying to pay as little as possible, fuel cell makes an incredible amount of sense. I think it could easily go head-to-head with electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids in specific use cases. Right now, fleet is coalescing around a few different fuel types, primarily biodiesel, LNG, and propane.
If your fleet logs 100-200 miles per day per vehicle, or is timetable-based, or patrols a campus, a fuel cell is something to look at. Green fleet vehicles already fuel in places where the general public doesn’t, which means Toyota would have to build new fueling stations (planned) as well as induce current fleet and alternative fueling centers to add hydrogen (planned, but yet to be seen).
In the nascent days of the Chevy Volt, the US Government signed a contract to purchase the PHEV, which helped buoy adoption more than sales. It would be a smart move for a fleet version of the Mirai to follow and significantly improve this pattern. I don’t expect Toyota to start calling on governments in the Midwest; rather in their identified introductory markets of Southern California and the Northeast Corridor from Boston to NYC.
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