Say goodbye to boring hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
To say we were shocked by the 2021 Toyota Mirai is a bit of an understatement. What is currently a rather frumpy-looking sedan will soon become a stunning large luxury sedan. Not only does the redesigned Mirai sport fantastic styling inside and out, but it also rides on a rear-wheel-drive platform, the very same architecture that underpins the Lexus LS 500 flagship. Why the sudden and dramatic change? Turns out there were several reasons why.
Road & Track spoke to the Mirai's chief engineer, Yoshikazu Tanaka, at the LA Auto Show last month and he revealed there was a genuine technical reason for using this platform.
Turns out opting for RWD created more space for the hydrogen tanks. Given that hydrogen refueling stations are not so common, Tanaka and his team wanted to increase the vehicle's range.
"We needed to extract the full potential of what the vehicle could be, and because you have these infrastructure limitations, we needed to make a car that was super appealing to these customers," Tanaka said. "So just looking good isn't enough. Just because you have extended driving range, that's not enough. The most important thing is it has to drive well, and it has to have good performance."
And because Toyota very much wants to increase Mirai sales, having a vehicle riding on a RWD platform does offer another added bonus: fun to drive factor. Although it's not specifically tuned to be a sports sedan, the new Mirai could be the start of a new era for fuel-cell vehicles.
Basically, it appears Toyota would love the Mirai to do for hydrogen cars what the Tesla Model S did for electric vehicles. It's certainly possible, but this will also depend on factors such as pricing. In any case, the redesigned 2021 Toyota Mirai is slated to go on sale next year.