Québec Government Purchases 50 Toyota Mirai To Trial Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

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By Bruno Marcoux

At the Montreal Auto Show, Toyota announced that it would be bringing the fuel cell powered Mirai to market in Canada, starting with fleet sales in Quebec.

The Mirai is Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell powered car. It uses a fuel cell to turn hydrogen into electricity and power a 151 hp electric motor. The Mirai looks like an even more futuristic Prius and can travel 502 km on a tank of hydrogen. The car can refill with hydrogen nearly as quickly as a gas car and can then drive for another 500 km. It’s also less affected by cold weather than a plug-in EV.

Introduced in 2014, the Mirai has been available in Japan since that year. It went on sale in select US states at the end of 2015.

There are two main reasons why the Mirai is debuting in Quebec. The first is that it aligns with Quebec’s efforts to increase zero-emission vehicle adoptions, including an EV sales mandate that comes into effect this year. Québec is the first Canadian Province with a ZEV mandate. EVs in the province of Québec have doubled from 12,000 at the end of December 2016 to 24,000 at the end of December 2017.

The second reason is the availability of affordable and clean electric power. Hydro Québec is one of the world’s largest producers of clean power, and that clean energy will be used to produce the hydrogen to fuel the cars.  Hydro-Québec has 99% renewable energy at 0.07$ CDN/kwh. The idea is to position Québec as a provider of exportable clean hydrogen powered by 99% renewable energy.

Toyota has already made a big electrified debut in Quebec before roll-out to the rest of Canada. The plug-in hybrid Prius Prime went on sale in Quebec seven months before sales expanded to the rest of the country.

The Mirai will go on sale later this year. Since the selling price is 57,000$ US, we can expect the selling price to be close to 70,000$ CDN.  Visitors attending the Montreal Auto Show will have the opportunity to test drive the car.

The Québec government purchased 50 Toyota Mirai to test the technology.

Currently there are 2 hydrogen charging stations in all of Québec.  One at the Québec Hydrogen Research Institute in Trois-Rivières and one at the Brossard Toyota Dealership on the South Shore of Montréal. Québec plans to install one hydrogen charging station in Montréal and one in Québec City.

Québec’s Electric Vehicle Association (QEVA) is disappointed that the Québec government is investing huge amounts of money towards 2 stations of hydrogen infrastructure at 3 million dollars each. Hydrogen vehicles are more expensive than battery electric vehicles, and cost three times as much electricity to run versus battery electric vehicles. The money would be better spent by installing more level 2 and level 3 DC fast-charging stations.  Each level 3 charger costs less than 100,000$ to install.  The 6 million dollars that will be invested in 2 stations for 50 hydrogen cars could provide 60 level 3 chargers for the 24,000 battery electrical vehicles currently in operation in Québec.  Still not convinced? Watch this video and you will understand why hydrogen is the fuel of the future … and that’s where it will stay, in the future.

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