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Toyota’s 2016 Mirai FCV quietly ushers in the era of production hydrogen-powered cars

The hydrogen fuel cell race is really heating up.

Within the past few days, Honda has unveiled its FCV Concept in Japan, BMW is reportedly planning a hydrogen-powered i5, and now, Toyota has officially announced its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle for the 2016 model year.

Dubbed the Mirai, which means “future” in Japanese, the mid-size sedan will go on sale in the U.S. next year and feature a range of approximately 300 miles.

The name Mirai is especially apt when you consider the hydrogen powertrain takes just five minutes to fill, emits no exhaust besides water vapor, and can even siphon energy into an owner’s home with the Optional Power Take-Off device.

As far as driving experience goes, the Mirai shouldn’t differ drastically from a normal electric vehicle. The sedan is a tad on the portly side at 4078 pounds, but its maximum output of 153 horsepower allows it to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in around 9 seconds.

Furthermore, because the hydrogen components are mounted close to the ground, the FCV has a low center of gravity, which lends itself to spry handling.

As with most forms of alternative energy, creating a sustainable infrastructure to support the car will be one of the biggest challenges. To overcome that hurdle, Toyota has announced a joint venture with industrial gas supplier Air Liquide to build 12 hydrogen fueling stations in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. There are currently 10 stations in California, but the state has committed to 20 by 2015 and 40 by 2016.

I am currently in Newport Beach, California testing the Mirai alongside over a hundred journalists and Toyota executives. A full driving impression report will be posted soon, so stay tuned.

Watch the official unveiling video below.

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