Toyota heads Back to the Future with a special Mirai launch event for new owners

There may have been about a dozen automotive related news stories surrounding the 30th anniversary of the second installment of the “Back to the Future” film series, but Toyota owned the festivities by a healthy margin.

Using the film-famous October 21st, 2015 date as a marker, Toyota launched its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai during a celebration with early adopter new owners at Quixote Studios in Hollywood, CA. As part of the event, Toyota bestowed the first Mirai keys to a handful of owners via eight of the brand’s largest California dealers.

The brand also revealed the full video of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd)’s reunion:

The Japanese automaker centered the event around a panel comprised of host Brian Cooley (Editor at Large – CNET), and panelists Chris Hardwick (Nerdist Co-founder), Edward Eich (“Back to the Future” film technology designer), and Jackie Berkshaw (Toyota Engineer responsible for the Mirai).

The panel covered a variety of topics, including how the “Back to the Future” movies had come up with the technology predictions for 2015, which technologies the panelists wanted to see manifested soon, and what they might predict technology in 30 years might look. All panelists seemed to agree that the entertainment industry inspires innovation, leading engineers to turn even vague concepts that were seen in movies into realities.

Toyota also spent a bit of time discussing the Mirai’s development, which spanned 12 years (even longer if you could the time dedicated just to the hydrogen fuel cell technology), and involved tens of thousands of miles of road testing. The company also announced that almost the entire first year’s production run has been pre-sold.

As a quick refresher, the Toyota Mirai will initially be sold just in California, where there’s [some] infrastructure for hydrogen fueling, and it will have a range of about 300 miles. Refueling should take just five minutes and all fuel is included in the purchase of the vehicle for the first three years.

To further put owners at ease, Toyota is offering an eight-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and after tax incentives, the Mirai will cost just about $45,000 (it will retail for $58,325 from the factory).

Though fuel will be free at first, places to fill-up will be limited to about 20 locations in all of California. That’s far less than all the available electric charging stations, though a five-minute refill is significantly faster than an 80-percent recharge of even the quickest electric systems, which take about 30 minutes.

In person, the Mirai is striking. Its long, sharply-creased body looks like it means business and, frankly, I wish the 2016 Prius designers had cross-shopped the Mirai’s styling. Inside, it feels modern, with strong character lines that mimic the exterior design. I can buy that this is a $58,000 car before incentives. It won’t win any luxury awards on its own, but combined with a trend-setting powertrain, the Mirai boasts contemporary looks and what appears to be a comfortable cabin.

Elon Musk has gone on record saying hydrogen fuel cell technology isn’t scalable, and, for the moment, battery-powered electric vehicles are surging forward. Shrinking development costs and an ever-expanding electric charging infrastructure have put EVs in a strong position compared to hydrogen-powered models. With nearly identical ranges, it will be a race from here on out to see whether battery or hydrogen fuel cell technology will lead to more affordable, more convenient zero-emissions experiences.

Though early adopters almost certainly have an extra vehicle or two for more utility or longer trips, the promise of three years of free fill-ups and the guarantee of more hydrogen stations cropping up over time make the Mirai an attractive option. The original Prius was a technology gamble for some, and the Mirai may be the same success story. Time will tell.


We get up close with the Vision iNext concept to learn about BMW’s future

Through a massive worldwide campaign that visits various major cities around the world, we get our exclusive opportunity to get up close and personal with BMW’s latest Vision iNEXT Concept to learn about automaker’s future plans.

Audi is finally taking the wraps off its Tesla-fighting e-tron electric SUV

The 2019 Audi e-tron is an electric SUV aimed at the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace, and Mercedes-Benz EQC. It's Audi's first mass-market electric car, but will it make a good first impression?

Startup inks ‘world’s largest deal’ for driverless grocery deliveries

An increasing number of companies are testing delivery services using autonomous vehicles. Startup Udelv already has experience of running a trial in San Francisco, with Oklahoma City, Oklahoma set to become its next destination.
Product Review

It looks like a concept, but the Lexus LC500 is very much a real-life stunner

The LC500 sports car combines exotic looks, a raucous V8 engine, sumptuous interior, and responsive steering to make one of the most compelling Lexus-badged models ever and one of the sexiest vehicles on sale.

An elevator in your garage? Boring Company gets OK to test Loop Lift from tunnel

The Hawthorne (California) City Council gave Elon Musk's Boring Company the go-ahead to construct a Loop Lift prototype. The lift will connect the company's existing underground hyperloop to a residential garage.

Uber has decided to leave its broadly derided current logo ‘behind’

Rideshare giant Uber has a new brand image. The new wordmark logo replaces Uber's previous brand icon, a circular graphic that was derided as an "asshole" symbol that walked away from a clear brand identifier.
Product Review

Alfa Romeo delivers the quintessential Italian high-performance SUV

Alfa’s Romeo’s Ferrari-powered sport utility delivers hair-raising straight-line performance, admirable capability in the corners, and head-turning style, but comes up a bit short in a few key areas.
Smart Home

Amazon reportedly will introduce an Alexa-enabled microwave, amp, and more

Amazon's Fall 2018 Alexa device rollout is about to begin, sources say. Look for an Alexa microwave, an amplifier, receiver, and subwoofer, and an Alexa voice-responsive device for your car. Amazon is maximizing its voice-command presence.

Elon Musk: Tesla is bringing most collision repair in-house, outsiders too slow

Dissatisfied with third-party collision repair shops, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce the firm is bring most repair work in-house. The goal is a car as good or better than new with repair completed in under an hour.

Volkswagen built a 210-mph Jetta, and broke a land-speed record with it

A modified 2019 Volkswagen Jetta just set a land-speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the G/BGC class. Boasting a 600-horsepower engine, the Jetta hit 210 mph on the salt.
Emerging Tech

Smart sound system will give every car passenger their own wireless audio stream

Can't agree on what to listen to in the car? Imagine if each passenger could get their own way, courtesy of a personal audio stream — no headphones required. Sounds impossible, but it's almost here.
Emerging Tech

No more scraping? Anti-frosting advance could mark end of frozen windshields

Hate frozen windshields in winter? Researchers at Virginia Tech may have found a way to banish them for good, thanks to the world’s first passive anti-frosting surface. Here's how it works.

Ferrari’s latest special editions are stripped down, old-school sports cars

The Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2 are inspired by some of the Italian automaker's most legendary sports cars. They mix old school rawness with modern carbon fiber construction and 789-horsepower V12 power.

Lucid Motors accepts $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabian fund

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia will invest $1 billion in upstart electric car company Lucid Motors. Lucid hopes to launch a Tesla-fighting luxury sedan called the Air by 2020.