ARKANSAS, Sept 22 (Future Headlines)- In a significant commitment to sustainable mobility, Toyota recently announced plans to provide 500 of its innovative hydrogen-powered Mirai cars for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This decision builds upon Toyota’s successful deployment of the Mirai as part of the official Olympic fleet during the Tokyo event in 2021. These Mirai vehicles will serve as a crucial mode of transportation for athletes and officials, relying on Air Liquide for refueling, cementing a partnership between two giants in the sustainable transportation and energy sectors.
Toyota’s association with the Olympics goes beyond mere sponsorship; it has held the prestigious title of the Olympics’ and Paralympics’ “Worldwide Mobility Partner” since 2015. This long-standing commitment underscores Toyota’s dedication to advancing eco-friendly mobility solutions. Cédric Borremans, Head of Olympic and Paralympic Division of Toyota Motor Europe, highlights the company’s intention to showcase its innovative capabilities in hydrogen-powered mobility solutions at Paris 2024.
However, while Toyota’s Mirai represents a symbol of the commitment to clean energy, it also reflects the challenges and complexities of establishing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in a market overwhelmingly dominated by battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Toyota introduced the Mirai in 2014, aiming to transition it from a niche offering to a mainstream vehicle. Despite its groundbreaking technology, sales of the Mirai have been sluggish. As of November 2022, only 21,475 units were sold globally, a modest figure for a car with such innovative technology.
One of the formidable challenges the Mirai faces is the pricing of hydrogen. In California, a key market for hydrogen vehicles, the state’s largest hydrogen fuel supplier significantly raised its pump price to a staggering $36 per kilogram, up from just over $13 per kilogram in 2021. This substantial price increase raises concerns about the economic viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles and their competitiveness compared to BEVs.
Recognizing the shifting dynamics of the automotive industry, Toyota’s newly appointed CEO, Koji Sato, unveiled ambitious plans to introduce ten new BEV models by 2026, with more in the pipeline. This strategic shift acknowledges the growing dominance of BEVs and aims to tap into this expanding market.
Furthermore, Toyota is actively working on mass-producing a new solid-state battery by 2027, promising to double the range of BEVs. This endeavor directly challenges one of the core advantages of hydrogen vehicles: their longer range. Toyota’s dual focus on both hydrogen and BEV technologies reflects its commitment to remaining at the forefront of eco-friendly mobility solutions.
As Toyota continues to invest in both hydrogen and BEV technologies, the future of eco-friendly mobility remains intriguingly dynamic. The Paris 2024 Olympics will serve as a significant stage for the Mirai, showcasing its capabilities and potential. Yet, the broader question of whether hydrogen can carve out a sustainable niche in the rapidly evolving landscape of sustainable mobility remains unanswered. Toyota’s bold moves to embrace BEVs and solid-state battery technology illustrate a pragmatic approach to ensure a place in the evolving world of clean transportation.
Writing by Alireza Sabet; Editing by Sarah White