The carmaker shipped its first five models of the Toyota Mirai to Bristol and Zeebrugge in Belgium and is set to go on sale next month for €66,000.

The hydrogen vehicle will go on sale Germany, Denmark and the UK – countries with some initial hydrogen infrastructure now in place – with between 50 and 100 cars expected from 2015-16.

Toyota says the new release of the Mirai aims to grow awareness and acceptance of fuel cell technology in the motor industry and to promote the development of the required hydrogen infrastructure.

Toyota Europe executive vice-president Karl Schlicht said: “This marks the debut of a new age for clean mobility.”

He said: “We looking forward to the start of delivery of the first Mirai to customers from September and to see the future taking shape on European roads.”

Fledgling industry

The release of the Mirai comes 15 years after Toyota debuted the hybrid Totoya Prius in Europe.

Hydrogen refuelling stations are limited in the UK and initial infrastructure developments are still receiving Government support. Recent reports from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership proposed local government in the UK could spur the uptake of hydrogen cars by adopting fuel cells for public fleets.

Recent UK Government grants of £11m added a further seven new hydrogen refuelling stations, taking the total to 15 Government-funded refuelling stations. Sainsbury’s has also added prototype hydrogen dispensers to its store in Hendon.

The hydrogen fuel cells release zero CO2 emissions, instead converting hydrogen fuel into water. Hydrogen vehicles have the added benefit over zero-emission electric cars in that they are easy to refuel, as opposed to many full-electric vehicles which take many hours to recharge.

In its effort to continue promoting hydrogen fuel cars, Toyota announced it would freely share its technology with the auto industry to boost the slow-growing sector in January this year.

Honda, another Japanese carmaker which has invested in hydrogen-powered vehicles, delivered its first ix35 fuel cell cars to the UK last year, as well as setting up a major commercial-scale hydrogen refuelling point in Swindon.

The uptake of hydrogen vehicles compares to the more established full-electric and plug-in hybrid technologies already available with more widespread charging points.

A record 9,000 new ultra-low emission vehicles were registered in the UK in the first quarter of 2015 and in the US electric car manufacturer Tesla is expecting to ship as many as 12,000 Tesla Model X and S in the third quarter of 2015.

Matt Field

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