ToyotaMirai_largeThe world’s largest car maker, Toyota is about to take its first small step into the unproven market for emissions-free, hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The company  will begin selling fuel cell cars in Japan on December 15 and in the US and Europe in mid-2015.

The sporty-looking, four-door Toyota Mirai will sell fo €46,000 before tax, and  Toyota hopes to sell 400 in Japan and 300 in the rest of the world in the first year.

“In time, the fuel cell vehicle will become mainstream. We wanted to take the first step,” said Mitsuhisa Kato, a Toyota executive vice president, at the vehicle’s launch. “We want to be at the leading edge.”

Fuel cell vehicles run on compressed hydrogen gas, which in the Mirai’s case is stored in two tanks mounted underneath the vehicle. They emit no exhaust, though fossil fuels are used in the production of hydrogen and to pressurise it.

Hoping to offset the inconvenience of finding fuel, Toyota gave the car a futuristic look inside and out – Mirai means future in Japanese – and made it peppy to try to attract buyers. It accelerates particularly quickly from about 25 to 45mph, Mr Tanaka said.

Sales will be limited to the primarily urban areas that have hydrogen fueling stations.

A few stations have opened in California in the United States, and there are plans to build some in the Northeast. Germany and the United Kingdom are among European countries that have or plan to build them.

The company has about 200 pre-orders for the vehicle, mainly government agencies and companies that want to go green, the company said.

The Mirai can travel 400-435 miles on its two tanks of hydrogen. Hydrogen may be more expensive than petrol initially, because there are so few customers but, over time, Toyota expects it will be cheaper to run a car on hydrogen.

Source: Irish Examiner