92% of owners consider the hydrogen vehicle to be their primary household vehicle.
Toyota Mirai sales may not set the charts alight, but it seems the hydrogen vehicle has a loyal following of owners who use them as primary vehicles, with indications pointing towards the strong viability of hydrogen as a primary fuel source.
Craig Scott, director of fuel cell solutions for Toyota Motor North America, told Automotive News that 92% of Mirai drivers use the car as the primary household vehicle. According to Scott, fewer than two-thirds of EV owners answered the same.
Since the beginning of 2020, the automaker has shifted a mere 4,717 examples in America through October this year. Despite this, Toyota views these usage patterns as encouraging.
"People view the capabilities of hydrogen as a primary vehicle replacement, and they're acting accordingly," said Scott. "In Los Angeles, driving 60 to 80 miles on a commute is not that unusual, and I think you need the robustness that hydrogen offers."
Toyota, a trailblazer in hybrid technology, has come under fire in recent months due to its slowed EV rollout. The company believes in a varied approach and, while it continues to slowly introduce electric vehicles, is investing heavily in hydrogen technology.
Aside from trialing the technology in motorsport applications, Toyota is developing a hydrogen-powered Corolla Cross and is reportedly working with BMW to produce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Researchers and various companies believe hydrogen technology holds the key to long-distance, emissions-free driving. This sentiment is shared by Hyundai's Jose Munoz, who told the publication that the automaker "[believes] in EV technology, though for heavy-duty and perhaps some other segments today, hydrogen could be a better solution."
Korea's largest automaker already offers a hydrogen-powered truck for sale in specific regions and plans to bring 30 examples to the United States in 2023.
Hydrogen's biggest hindrance appears to be the lack of refueling stations. Statistics from the Energy Department's Alternative Fuels Data Center show there are 48,148 electric vehicle charging stations in the USA, compared to just 54 fuel stations for hydrogen vehicles.
There's still a strong possibility that hydrogen will catch up and become more mainstream. As per the report, the United States Department of Energy, through an $8 billion project, is establishing hydrogen hubs to encourage early adoption and help producers.
While electric vehicles appear to be the future, several automakers (aside from Toyota) are investing in alternative energy. BMW is placing the final touches on the iX5 SUV and expects to introduce a hydrogen-powered vehicle before the decade's end.
"We believe that ... if you want to ride emissions-free and you do not have a charging station, this is the only possibility we have," said CEO Oliver Zipse at the time.