By VICTOR E. SASSON
What a letdown.
As the owner of four Prius gas-electric hybrids since 2004, I had hoped Toyota's revolutionary Mirai would transform the driving experience as much as the all-electric Tesla I've owned for nearly a year.
But the Mirai reminds you too much of Toyota's conventional models, and it's, well, noisy for a car that runs solely on electricity.
I got a chance to drive the fuel-cell vehicle in Manhattan on Wednesday, the first press-preview day for the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center.
The Mirai was initially shown at the New York show about a year ago.
Often called the ultimate green car, a fuel-cell vehicle generates electricity by forcing a fuel to react with oxygen.
In the case of the Mirai, that fuel is hydrogen, and limited hydrogen fueling stations are why Toyota is only selling the car in California now.
The Mirai also carries hybrid-like batteries and an electric motor.
Generating electricity produces no harmful emissions from the Mirai, but a button on the dash must be pushed periodically to purge "pure water" through a rear pipe.
|Refueling at a hydrogen pump gives up to 300 miles per fill, which takes about 5 minutes. The power train is far more complex than in a car like the Nissan Leaf or a BMW i3 powered by a battery and electric motor (Photo credit: Popular Science).|