Latest Popemobile Is A Hydrogen-Powered Toyota Mirai

Electric Vehicles / 29 Comments

It's common knowledge just how committed to the issue of climate change Pope Francis is.

The feelings of His Holiness Pope Francis on the issue of global climate change are well-documented; he considers it one of the most important moral and ethical issues of our time. Considering that, Toyota did well to select the hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai as his new car - a gift given to His Holiness by Toyota and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan last week.

At least, it makes a lot more sense than the Nissan Frontier the pope rode in during a trip to Africa last year, and it addresses a concern he raised shortly after his appointment in 2013: that using expensive, opulent machines like Mercedes Benzes ran counter to the church's general position against excess and grandiosity.


The Mirai gifted to His Holiness is one of two built for the pope's visit to Japan in November 2019, and it features the typical elevated platform so that he is highly visible as he's transported around publicly. It features a safety cage and a transparent roof positioned a total of nearly 9 feet off the ground.

Other touches that set this Toyota Mirai apart include an LED lighting system, a couple of gilded insignias, and Vatican diplomat flags over the front fenders. There's certainly no mistaking it for a regular everyday commuter car.


The Toyota Mirai, released in 2014, was the first volume-production sedan fueled by hydrogen - a fuel whose only byproduct, in this application, is water. Technically, the consumption of the hydrogen doesn't power the wheels directly; it powers a hydrogen-electric generator, which in-turn supplies electricity to an electric drive motor. A nickel-metal hydride battery is present as a buffer, but it has a meager 1.6-kWh capacity, which helps mitigate one of the chief ethical concerns with conventional EVs: the environmental and human costs of mining the raw materials that constitute the battery.

Total range of the Mirai is nonetheless a very livable 312 miles, according to the EPA. A new second-generation Mirai revealed last year is supposed to deliver some 30 percent more range.

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