Published on November 6th, 2015 | by Kyle Field


Toyota Brings Us Back To The Future (Again?) With A Custom Mirai For SEMA

November 6th, 2015 by  

This one is too good to be true. A few weeks ago, I posted a review of the Toyota Mirai called “Back to the Future – Driving the Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle.” I covered the quirks in the driving experience, the high-tech (albeit strange) looks of the car, and the feel of the drive. It was an appetizer that seems to have been extrapolated into a full entree, or possibly even a nice meal, at this year’s SEMA show… by none other than Toyota.

Toyota worked with custom car shop MV Designs and Mark Wu to mod the Mirai into a futuristic, Back to the Future–inspired Delorean that looks like it may have been built by Doc Brown himself. The custom Mirai features gull-wing doors (no, not falcon-wing doors — those are double hinged), metallic silver paint, a hiding Mr Fusion unit in the trunk, and of course, the time travel display (that was also recently built into an onboard Telsa app).

On top of some of those standout customizations, the BTTF Mirai includes:

  • Conversion from four-door to two-door coupe body style
  • Custom 19-inch “Infinity” LED wheels and tires
  • Custom air-ride suspension
  • Blue LED lighting throughout vehicle
  • Custom brushed-aluminum paint
  • Heads-up destination clock display
  • Integrated tablet replacing original equipment head unit
  • Flux capacitor housed in a custom center console

I’m not going to claim credit for inspiring the idea (though that would be awesome if it were the case!) but it does seem to be a fantastic coincidence. It’s actually an official promotional partnership with the film trilogy to help advertise their 30th anniversary and lend a bit of BTTF cool to the Mirai. I have to admit, it feels cooler to me now, though I’m still not sold on fuel cells as the next energy source for our vehicles. One step at a time, Toyota. 🙂

Check out the video below:

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  • Tom G.

    What a waste of good engineering talent.

  • Adrian

    In 2018 the Mirai will only earn 3 CARB ZEV credits instead of the 7-9 it will earn over the next couple years.

    Will the Mirai quietly disappear from Toyota’s US lineup after 2018?

    • Kyle Field

      Interesting point. I’m curious to see this as well but as Toyota (and Honda) are pushing full force for FCs in Japan as well so I wouldn’t expect it to only be a US/CARB thing

  • vensonata

    Although Hydrogen is a bust for vehicles…it still might be handy for solar micro grids which aspire to 100% clean energy. Seasonally in the Northern hemisphere where 88% of the world’s population resides there is usually over production from PV in summer and under production in winter. Stationary battery storage solves 97% of the problem for short term (3 days worth) of storage. The remaining 3% could use hydrogen produced as waste from summer PV overproduction. Although hydrogen from electrolysis is only about 40% efficient it is essentially free and clean. Do not confuse this with present hydrogen sources or super compressed hydrogen, this is just the tiny fraction of useful and clean sourced hydrogen which has a truly useful niche.

    • mike_dyke

      Why do we need to stop at 97% with storage? why not add more, say, up to a week’s worth? Don’t forget we need to store the output from wind as well.

      • Kyle Field

        I agree. We need to study utility scale hydrogen storage vs utility scale LFP batteries. It could be less damaging to crank that extra power into hydrogen than to produce and replace a huge fleet of batteries. On top of that, hydrogen is flexible…it can be used for heat (combustion), piped with natural gas (at the same time) where we need it, used to generate electricity via a fuel cell (though these degrade over time as well) etc.

        I’m not saying it’s the answer but it is intriguing enough to me to warrant a full exploration of the possibilities. We definitely don’t have the full future solution fleshed out so there’s no reason to paint ourselves into a corner by broadly dismissing technologies that aren’t perfect (spoiler: none of them are).

        • Bob_Wallace

          Hydrogen is a very, very lossy storage medium. Very, very lossy.

          Let’s assume the electrolysis, compression and fuel cell parts of a hydrogen storage system would cost about the same as pump and membrane in a flow battery. I suspect the flow battery hardware would be a lot cheaper, but let’s load on in favor of H2.

          Now, the cost of H2 storage. Tricky molecule to contain and it would be under pressure.

          The flow battery would need non-pressurized tanks and chemicals.

          I can’t price all this stuff out, but let’s assume that it’s even. Storing a kWh of energy as H2 would cost the same as storing a kWh of energy in chemical form.

          Now, efficiency.

          Takes 2 kWh to 3 kWh of electricity input in a H2 system to get 1 kWh out.

          Takes about 1.2 kWh of electricity input in a flow battery system to get 1 kWh out.

          Just based on relative efficiency H2 would cost more than 2x as much.

          • Kyle Field

            That makes sense and I’m by no means sold on it. Just have a hard time closing any doors – especially during this period of insane innovation, investment and R&D.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I see no reason to close doors. Just a need to stay realistic about what might be behind each door.

            Hydrogen fuel cells, like thorium reactors and vertical axis wind turbines, seem to have achieved a cult-like status. Some people so want to believe while the data known doesn’t paint a promising picture.

            But research, yes. Research away. Who knows what we might discover.

      • sault

        Agreed. Battery capacity that only gets used 3% of the time is still going to be cheaper, more efficient and more practical for homes and businesses than a fuel cell that only gets used 3% of the time for the same purpose.

        • vensonata

          Here’s the thing: Batteries these days are quite economical and growing more so everyday. However the problem which one comes realize if you live on batteries is that a 5000 cycle battery is great if you store one nights electricity. It will take you 14 years to use that battery up and it will cost you about 11cents kwh added to your cost to produce the electricity. Fine so far. Now lets say you want to have enough for one whole days storage for the 100 days per year when you fall a little short in production on your solar panels. That portion of electricity will take 5000 divided by 100 to be used up…in other words 50 years! And still you only have one days storage. The next scenario is those times when you need two days storage…that will happen 15 times per year…that portion of storage will last 150 years! But batteries have other aging parameters so we can’t really do it.
          Now, you say, well lets make batteries that only have 100 cycles and are really, really cheap then we can actually use them up for our “week of storage”. Brilliant, that is what I want. However they would have to cost only $10 kwh! in order to give you electricity at 10 cents kwh. Unlikely indeed. And so that is the short answer to why hydrogen is the last 3% solution.

          • Adrian

            In 1970, a $.50/watt solar panel seemed pretty unlikely. And yet we’re about there today at the production cost side…

            There are still plenty of poorly-explored pathways to cheaper batteries, and we’re only just wrapping our collective heads around the fundamental electrochemistry involved. Good days are ahead!

          • vensonata

            Yes, I am hopeful. But remember we are talking about 97% already. That is an A+. 100% is a leisure process really. Here is what we need…and is perhaps not far off: a 1000 cycle battery at 100% depth of discharge for $100/kwh. There are lead acid batteries already that can do that, but for $250 kwh. Lead Acid is old tech…not likely to improve and clunky etc. So we really want a cheapo low cycle Chinese lithium 1000 cycle battery at $100. If we can get that you have your 100% off grid house with 10 days full storage. Cost will be quite reasonable and in fact, beat the grid price in Germany and Australia and Hawaii. It will rival peak New England and California rates. Not much to ask, surely.

          • vensonata

            A new thought has occurred. I just glanced at the used car battery article and there you have the perfect back up battery. These batteries will have a thousand cycles left and need to be cheap, very cheap, like $50 kwh. Now you can buy your ten day back up battery and actually use it…for 30 years. If your house uses 20 kwh day then 10 days is a 200 kwh battery at $50 kwh =$10,000. Over its 30 year lifespan it will cost you $330 year and basically you can go off grid without a generator. It looks like this is coming up fast in the rearview mirror. Of course you still need a healthy set of PV panels.

          • JamesWimberley

            Besides, there is a smooth and low- investment transition path. Start with natural gas speakers as the backup. This costs nothing as they are already built. Then gradually replace the NG with hydrogen or syngas .

  • Mike333

    The Hydrogen JOKE.

  • Marion Meads

    Yeah, people spend a lot of money on entertainment rather than working hard on more practical solutions to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

    • Kyle Field

      At least it gets people asking “is that possible?” we can drive cars that are cleaner? Hopefully they end up in an EV but just prompting the question in people’s minds is valuable. I think the fake flux capacitor in the back is a bit over the top though…might dissuade potential EV buyers…

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