Although technically you could march into a dealership and insist on purchasing a Mirai right now, Toyota would probably rather you didn’t.
Clearly, the car and its technology remain at an embryonic stage, and for now the manufacturer is focusing on finding appropriate business users in industry and government.
If the prospect of early adoption has you chomping at the bit despite the severely limited opportunities for refuelling, Toyota would prefer you to lease the car rather than buy it outright (surely preferable, given the £66,000 price).
In reflection of its limitations and the developmental service you’ll be doing the firm, Toyota is offering the Mirai on a £750-per-month contract hire scheme that includes maintenance, tyres and all fuel.
Which brings us neatly to the rub. Filling your hydrogen fuel cell car, as we’ve alluded to more than once, is something of a bind.
There are currently only three sites open for business delivering the optimal 700bar of hydrogen pressure, one each in Heathrow, Hendon and Swindon (with six more in the pipeline this year).
The actual refuelling is, considering compressed hydrogen’s stringent storage requirements, relatively painless. You attach the rather more serious nozzle yourself, but the pump seals the connection and decides whether it is safe, then dispenses the correct tank-brimming amount automatically.
That volume, like the 5kg tank capacity, is measured by weight. Toyota’s claims are that the Mirai consumes 760g of hydrogen per 62 miles (100km) on the NEDC combined cycle.
Translated into more easily understood terms, we averaged just under 45 miles per kilogram, with 62mpkg on a gentle touring trip, which would make for a range of just over 300 miles.
That puts its ‘thirst’ about on a par with a conventionally powered equivalent model, given its size and performance.
At this fledgling point in the production, transport and storage of hydrogen for private car use, it costs around £15 per kilogram, making the cost of running a water-emitting car roughly equivalent to one burning fossil fuels. The prospect, then, of Toyota footing the bill is attractive – but one undeniably limited to the residents of the Heathrow, Hendon and Swindon areas for now.