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Toyota Practically Giving Away its Hydrogen Vehicles

And on paper, they're great vehicles.

Demand for the Toyota Mirai, an electric vehicle that runs off of a hydrogen fuel cell, must not be strong because the automaker is practically giving them away.

According to Wards Auto, Toyota recently issued a $40,000 sales incentive for the second-generation Mirai that normally sells for $52,000. That price is already significantly lower than the cost of a 2017 Lexus hybrid with 71,000 miles that I found on Carfax for $21,000.

As the report points out, the Mirai also includes $15,000 is complimentary fuel. So when you factor that in, it’s like Toyota is paying you $3,000 to drive a Mirai for six years, which is how long you have to use up the free fuel package.

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Of course, there are limitations with the Mirai. For one, it’s only sold in California and, as Wards notes, Toyota dealerships in the state are not stocking the Mirai in large quantities. And then there’s finding hydrogen to fuel the thing.

Shell once had grand plans to build a hydrogen refueling network in California that would serve lightweight consumer vehicles. The company had even received millions in grant money from the state. But last year it canceled plans to build 48 hydrogen refueling stations and this year, it shut down nearly all of its light-duty hydrogen refueling stations due to “supply complications and other external market factors,” according to Hydrogen Insight.

On paper, the Toyota Mirai is a great vehicle. It gets 402 miles of range and its only emissions are water. But given the limited infrastructure in place to support it, it may be just a little ahead of its time.

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