Published on March 3rd, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Toyota Mirai, Returning Back Toyota’s Pride
The Toyota Mirai celebrates its first birthday this week. This is the most high tech vehicle from Toyota, and it is a car that runs on hydrogen and emits only water. Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda chose the date Feb. 24 to commemorate the start of production of the Mirai fuel cell sedan for a reason. Exactly five years earlier, Toyoda was brought before a U.S. congressional panel and given a humiliating grilling about his company’s unintended acceleration recalls. To President Toyoda, the futuristic, environmentally friendly car symbolizes both Toyota’s rebirth from that crisis and a return to roots in attention to quality and pioneering spirit.
“For us, that date marks a new start,” Toyoda said at the line-off ceremony for the fuel cell car. “This is not to reflect on the past but rather to celebrate Toyota’s new start, where we take a fresh step toward the future.”
The Mirai is being assembled at a slow pace in the same back lot workshop at Toyota’s Motomachi plant that made the Lexus LFA sports car. A handpicked team of just 13 workers churns out only three of the handmade cars a day. Nevertheless, Toyota is slowly raising production plans. In January it said it will now make 2,000 a year in 2016 and 3,000 in 2017. When Toyota unveiled the car in November, executives said it would achieve cumulative sales of 3,000 by the end of 2017. The company plans to build just 700 in 2015, to feed sales in Japan, Europe and the United States.
Sales in Europe and the U.S. will begin by year end. In the U.S., Toyota will sell the Mirai for USD57,500; federal and California incentives of about USD13,000 will lower the price to consumers. The Mirai went on sale in Japan on Dec. 15, and Toyota booked 1,500 orders by Jan. 22. At a production rate of three a day, that already ensures an order backlog of around a year.