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Toyota identifies first fuel-cell customers

Date: 18 November 2015   |   Author:

Toyota has pinpointed the first customers for its new Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell-powered car, which has arrived in the UK in low numbers.

Only 12 cars will be registered this year, two of which the Japanese firm will retain as demonstration vehicles, and another 18 are due in 2016. All of the 2015 allocation have been accounted for, according to the brand, and of the 18 next year, a Toyota spokesman said: "They have not been signed off but we are pretty sure who is having them, and they are all companies that want to make a statement." All are going into company fleets, rather than private early adopters.

Toyota is carefully selecting customers to ensure both that vehicles go to appropriate companies with access to the limited refuelling infrastructure and that the vehicles will be used as much as possible to support the refuelling network, as well as to garner as much experience and data as possible. "If a car isn't being used much, it doesn't generate the data on where we need to improve," said the spokesman.

Green Tomato Cars is one early customer. It will be using the car all day and makes regular trips to Heathrow, so can refuel at a site nearer the airport as part of a normal routine. At present, the only places that have the necessary 700-bar refuelling infrastructure are Heathrow and Hendon in London, and Swindon in Wiltshire, with Teddington in west London opening by the end of the year. Sites in Sheffield and at the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence in east London come online in the first quarter of 2016.
Although the Mirai has a pre-Government grant price of £66,000,

Toyota is expecting almost all of the cars to be leased under its four-year/60,000-mile offering for £750 per month, including all fuel, as well as tyres and maintenance.

"The fuel stations are owned by different suppliers, and drivers may need different accounts, so we'll handle all of that," explained Toyota's spokesman.

The lease also includes what Toyota has dubbed the Mirai Companion Service, which incorporates a 24-hour concierge line for questions about the vehicle, fuelling locations and refuelling issues, and allows you to book a service, collection and delivery, with a courtesy car. It also comes with the Mirai app, which brings with it fuel station and journey-planning capabilities.