Toyota has delivered its first commercially produced fuel cell car, the Mirai sedan, to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda said during the ceremony last week the event marked a beginning of the era of hydrogen.
"This is a historic step and I'm truly excited,” Toyoda said. “This will be a long journey, and to make this first step truly historic we will all need to work together."
The Prime Minister drove the vehicle around a government building in Tokyo and said he was impressed by its performance.
“The vehicle accelerates well and is truly quiet and comfortable,” Abe said. “I would like all government agencies to start using them.”
Japan’s public sector has in fact already taken to the idea as 60 per cent of the 1,500 orders received by Toyota in the first month of sale came from government agencies.
The 7,236,000 yen ($62,150) Mirai is powered by a fuel cell stack system combining hydrogen gas from tanks with oxygen to produce electricity for the 113kW front-wheel electric motor.
The vehicle can cover a distance of about 480km with one tank’s worth of hydrogen, which can be replenished in as little as five minutes – a major advantage compared to more widespread electric vehicles.
Toyota says the fuel cell system inside the car is more energy efficient than internal combustion engines and emits no CO2 or other toxic substances.
Mirai was officially launched in mid-December last year.