Ottawa has committed to two publicly accessible stations as part of a broader alternative-fuel initiative. Quebec will build two multi-fuel stations that will include hydrogen, said Nichols, while will B.C.’s Capital Regional District (Greater Victoria) has stated it intends to build one.
Commercial hydrogen suppliers, which include oil companies, have not committed to building stations.
The inertia clearly irks Nichols but he said Toyota Canada is determined to launch Mirai here, even if it means helping kick-start refuelling infrastructure development.
“What role can we play to foster more investment in fuel cell or hydrogen fuelling in Canada?” he said as the Mirai wafted silently along Stanley Park’s leafy roads with only an occasional low moan as I called on the EV’s 247 lb.-ft. torque reserve. “We’re looking at partnerships in fuelling.
“We don’t want to own the infrastructure, that’s for sure. But there’s nothing wrong with supporting it through minimum purchase of hydrogen to make sure it’s viable short term and giving us better opportunity to demonstrate.”
Toyota Canada is vying for Mirai allocation with other markets, including Europe and Australia, said Nichols. It normally takes five years of planning and research to secure a product mandate, he said.
“We’re trying to move faster on this one,” said Nichols.
The only way we’re going to be able to do it effectively is if we convince our stakeholders, which are our dealers, the government, media and of course customers that this is a viable technology.”
Nichols hopes to emulate the U.S. program, which offers three-year lease terms to customers in California and some northeastern markets for US$349 a month plus a $2,500 down payment, or outright purchase for US$57,500 MSRP. Nichols said about 1,400 Mirais now are in customer hands.
Toyota also provides three years-worth of complimentary hydrogen, which in California is available from more than two dozen stations, a figure expected to double by 2018.
Toyota Canada hopes to get its allotment of Mirais in the next couple of years to demonstrate to its parent the car is viable in Canada.
“And, you know what, if we do it well I wouldn’t be surprised if 2020 would be a year for retail deployment,” he said.