As the concept and technology flagship, Toyota launches Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles of the second generation

For 2021, as a premium rear-wheel drive sports-luxury fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) with striking architecture, cutting-edge technology, more engaging driving efficiency and a substantially longer EPA-estimated range rating, Toyota has completely rebooted the Mirai, originally offered in 2016.

The 2021 Mirai is powered by the new evolution of the advanced powertrain of the brand’s fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV). The new Mirai is part of an electrification plan that also involves the existing and potential Toyota hybrids and upcoming electric battery vehicles (BEVs). 

The 2021 Toyota Mirai is a significant design departure from the first-generation front-wheel drive version based on the rear-wheel drive GA-L platform that also underpins the larger Lexus LS sedan. The body, with its bolder stance accentuated by regular 19-inch alloy wheels, is lower, longer and wider.

A more efficient fuel cell system offers a driving experience that is more engaging than its predecessor. The rear-wheel drive configuration and four-wheel independent suspension provide a sporty-luxury driving feel for sedans, with greater agility in handling than before, but also a more relaxed ride. The RWD architecture also increased the storage of hydrogen to increase the projected EPA range to 402 miles (Mirai XLE grade), a 30 percent increase over the Mirai first-generation.

The next-generation fuel cell stack in the current Mirai is about 20 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter than the previous stack, even 650V as in the first Mirai, and thus fits comfortably under the hood. The switch to rear-wheel drive was permitted by the new smaller stack.

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The first-gen Mirai was FWD in contrast, and the larger stack was put under an elevated portion of the floor of the passenger compartment.

With the FC stack example, a small lightweight power control unit is now incorporated, further reducing the total device size. Relocating the air intake manifold and improving the electrodes and seals of the gas channel separator resulted in a power production improvement of 12 percent over the first-gen stack (128 kW, up from 114 kW). For the first-gen Mirai, that translates to 182 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque vs. 151 hp and 247 lb-ft.

A lithium-ion battery is smaller and lighter in the Mirai 2021 (98.3 lb. vs. 103.4 lb.) and has greater power than the nickel metal-hydride battery used in the first-gen model (310.8v and 4.0 Ah, compared to 244.8v and 6.5 Ah in the earlier car). The more compact battery pack fits between the rear seat and the trunk, and 2-3 golf bags can be placed in the trunk. The battery’s cooling air is quietly drawn in from the cabin.

Compressed hydrogen fuel is contained in three 10,000 psi carbon-fiber-reinforced high-pressure tanks in the Toyota Mirai: one mounted longitudinally in the middle of the vehicle; one transversely mounted under the rear seat; and one third under the battery. Together the three tanks carry roughly 11 pounds (5 kg of hydrogen. 

The intake air is pressurized by an electric air compressor, and a water-cooled intercooler lowers the compressed air temperature until it reaches the FC stack. In order to provide reliability, a water-cooled oil cooler incorporated with the air compressor helps.

The intake system is intended to minimize noise that is practically imperceptible to occupants. In the air cleaner, the inlet configuration and sound-absorbing material stop air column resonance. The intake air for the fuel cell must necessarily be purified; ultra-fine particles (PM2.5) are collected by the electret air cleaner element, and chemical compounds are extracted by a charcoal filter.The resulting air released from the system is cleaner than the intake air.

More advanced consumer and safety technology, like Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, is included in the 2021 Mirai. Full Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, automatic emergency braking, and Lane Keep Assist are included in this new version of Toyota’s driver-assist technology package. In addition, on the 2021 Mirai, the Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Warning is normal. 

In the 2021 Mirai, the upgrade to a rear-wheel drive platform delivers a “twofer.” The latest style encourages the proportions and bolder posture of the coupe-like. At the same time, a roomier cabin with more available space on the inside and in the trunk was made possible by the new platform.

The Mirai 2021 features a bigger body with more room for passengers. With the first-generation Mirai, the wheelbase, height, length and width are all increased. Weight increases by just 176 lbs., but the distribution of weight changes to near 50:50, and the center of gravity is smaller to greatly increase the agility of handling.

Operation of the FC system and battery is seamless. Normal initial acceleration uses battery energy, just as a battery EV would. After initial acceleration, it smoothly transitions to FC+EV operation, and then fully to FC power to the EV drivetrain when cruising. As a result, the driver feels a natural, linear response to the accelerator.

Like a Toyota hybrid vehicle, the FC also sends electricity to be stored in the battery, and the battery is also charged by the motor-generator during deceleration. Direct current from the battery is converted into three-phase alternating current for the FC air compressor and the electric drive motor. In the 2021 Mirai, a second DC/DC converter augments the main DC/DC converter to respond to the auxiliary load increase.

The Mirai delivers outstanding performance for regular driving, such as accelerating in 2.8 seconds from 25 mph to 45 mph. Through the Drive Mode Select switch, which provides ECO, Regular and SPORT modes, the driver can customize the driving sensation. Standard offers an impressive balance between driving efficiency and fuel efficiency. By optimizing air conditioning operation, the selection of ECO mode prioritizes performance, while SPORT mode speeds accelerator response and tightens the feeling of steering for a more dynamic driving experience. 

As with Toyota Hybrids, to help improve fuel economy and driving range, Predictive Efficient Drive can learn repeated routes to optimize battery charging and discharge.

Luxury Car Chassis. To make the second-generation Mirai its new sedan flagship, Toyota based it on the GA-L platform also used for the Lexus LS sedan. (The LS uses a larger version of the platform.) The change to rear-wheel drive and resulting new layout for the FC system and EV powertrain yield a near 50:50 weight distribution, versus 58:42 for the front-wheel drive first-gen Mirai.

The high-strength platform provides the basis for outstanding agility in handling and an incredibly smooth, quiet trip. Among the construction techniques used to give the Mirai a truly superior feeling on the road are laser screw welding and adhesive structure bonding, proven on many other Toyota and Lexus models.

The suspension is entirely new and fully tailored to a luxury-sport flagship sedan. The advanced multilink suspension replaces the strut-type front suspension used by the first-gen Mirai and the beam axle rear suspension. Suspension geometry and rigidity provide direct-feeling steering that is highly sensitive. The consequence is a much higher degree of precision in handling, giving a distinctly sporting feeling to the second-gen Mirai to fit its future-looking powertrain.

Active Cornering Assist engages the stability control to reduce understeer in certain cornering situations. Hill Start Assist Control, standard for both grades, allows smoother, safe takeoffs from stops on hills.

Electric power steering delivers quick response, with a tight 38.6-ft. turning circle for easy maneuverability. Both the XLE and Limited grades are equipped with 19 x 8-inch alloy wheels and 235/55R19 all-season tires. The Limited in addition offers optional 20 x 8.5-inch turbine-style Super Chrome alloy wheels with 245/45ZR20 tires.

The Protection Mirai. To help prevent collisions or minimize their effects, Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ equips the 2021 Mirai. TSS 2.5+ is also used on other 2021 Toyotas, including the Camry and Highlander, the next step in the development of active safety systems by Toyota. It has improved a variety of functions that are part of the Toyota Safety Sense. 

The Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD) offers many improvements for instance. It is now possible for the device to help identify not only the vehicle ahead, but even a preceding daytime cyclist and even a preceding pedestrian in low-light conditions by improving system capabilities. With intersection support, TSS 2.5+ also improves the PCS w/PD scheme. At intersections, when making a left-hand turn, the system can detect an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian and may provide audio/visual warnings and automatic braking under some situations. Additional PCS functions include emergency steering assist, which is designed to stabilize the driver’s emergency steering maneuvers within their lane while avoiding a preceding pedestrian, bicyclist or vehicle.

Each Mirai comes equipped with Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), which can activate the feature above 30 mph, have a system designed to perform vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls down to 0 mph and resume from a stop. DRCC also includes a new feature that allows for smoother overtaking of slower vehicles. If traveling behind a vehicle traveling slower than the preset speed, once the driver engages the turn signal and initiates steering input the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration in preparation for changing lanes; after changing lanes, the vehicle will continue acceleration until it reaches the preset driving speed.

Lane Departure Alert is designed to help notify the driver via steering wheel vibrations or audible alert if it senses the vehicle is leaving the lane without engaging a turn signal. When DRCC is set and engaged, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) is designed to assist the driver by providing a slight steering force to help center the vehicle in its lane using visible lane markers or a preceding vehicle.

Additional features of TSS 2.5+ include Automatic High Beams, which detects previous or oncoming vehicles and switches between high beam and low beam headlights automatically. Road Sign Assist (RSA), which is designed to use a forward-facing camera to identify certain road sign details and show it on the multi-information display (MID). RSA can also change speed up to the posted speed limit when driving slower or down to the posted speed limit if driving faster than posted with DRCC engaged and enabled. 

In addition to the TSS 2.5+ framework, Blind Spot Monitor is designed to detect and warn you of vehicles approaching or placed in the adjacent lanes to help Mirai drivers change lanes with confidence. By helping to identify vehicles coming from either side while backing out and alerting you with a visual and auditory alarm, Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) will give added peace of mind.

Two-Grade Model Strategy. Toyota will offer the 2021 Mirai in two grades, XLE and Limited, rather than only a top-of-line mono-spec version as with the first-generation model. The new strategy will make the Mirai accessible to a wider market.

The Mirai XLE grade has a starting MSRP of $49,500—$9,050 less than the starting MSRP of the outgoing 2020 Mirai. An Advanced Technology Package, which includes Bird’s Eye View camera, front and rear Parking Assist with Automated Braking and front seat foot illumination, can be added to the XLE for $1,410

The Limited grade has a starting MSRP of $66,000 for an additional $1,120 with optional 20′ Super Chrome Alloy wheels available. For Oxygen White, Heavy Metal, Supersonic Red and Hydro Blue, both the XLE and Limited grades have a special color price of $ 425 (Limited only). 

The starting lease price for the Mirai XLE grade will be $499 a month, while the Restricted Grade lease price starts at $549 a month. When this next-generation Mirai first goes on sale, special launch rewards will be available, including special financing rates, retail cash back and launch cash back.

Each Mirai is supplied with up to $15,000 of free hydrogen. Extended ToyotaCare will come standard with each Mirai, good for three years or 35,000 miles. Other proprietary advantages include three-year (unlimited miles) roadside assistance, an eight-year/100,000-mile FCEV warranty on main electric vehicle fuel cell parts, a free rental experience for up to 21 days within the first three years of ownership, and much more.