Update: Toyota said it would not comment on future products regarding the Mirai. The company’s decision does not affect the research and development of hydrogen combustion engines. Toyota plans to continue refining hybrid fuel-cell technology for passenger vehicles.
It was a small surprise to see Toyota launch a second-generation Mirai. The hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle was never a strong seller, but that didn't stop the company from investing in the technology. Two years later, though, Toyota is singing a different tune. The Mirai has not been successful, with the company deciding to develop the technology for commercial vehicles.
Toyota's chief technology officer, Hiroki Nakajima, said during the Japan Mobility Show that it has been "difficult to realize" hydrogen fueling stations, according to Autocar. This has limited the Mirai's sales, which has “not been successful.” According to the US Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are only 57 hydrogen refueling locations in the US, all in California.
Gallery: 2021 Toyota Mirai (US-spec)
Nakajima told the publication that hydrogen is better suited for cars that mainly travel between two locations, like commercial vehicles. Their often limited and specific use would make it easier to provide stable refueling options. Toyota and Isuzu announced earlier this month that the two would develop light hydrogen fuel-cell trucks together.
The first-generation Mirai never cracked 2,000 sales, but the second-generation has beaten that mark every year since 2021, the model's highest sales year ever. Sales dipped in 2022 to just over 2,000 but are rebounding this year. Toyota has sold 2,604 Mirai sedans through September 2023, up over 80 percent compared to the first nine months of 2022.
Not every automaker is just yet hanging up the hat on building hydrogen-powered passenger cars. Honda unveiled a CR-V-based crossover that has a fuel cell earlier this month. It'll launch in the US and Japan next year, but expect the limited number of fueling stations to restrict its availability and sales, just like the Mirai.
Toyota and other automakers are also developing hydrogen combustion engines. Last week, a company introduced a new race engine concept that makes 410 horsepower. At this year's Japan Mobility Show, Toyota showed off a hydrogen-combustion buggy that it designed in collaboration with Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki, which could have a future in passenger cars.
Motor1.com reached out to Toyota about the future of the Mirai sedan. We’ll update the story if Toyota responds. We also asked if this decision affects the company’s research into hydrogen internal combustion engines.