For months our website has featured stories about Toyota’s relentless — and some might say stubborn — pursuit of a mass-market hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicle. Most notably, the Mirai.
In January 2017, we said Toyota was clinging to its hydrogen dreams. And a more recent Bloomberg story, posted online Nov. 27, went so far as to label the Japan-based automaker as isolated: all but alone in its journey toward a greener future for us all.
Heck, even Toyota’s chief engineer, Yoshikazu Tanaka, said the vehicle’s current range of 500 kilomtres is “not nearly enough.”
And, according to Bloomberg, there are just 30 hydrogen stations in California, currently the main market for fuel-cell vehicles outside Japan.
Ah, but wait. Like the last boy waiting for a willing partner at the elementary school dance, there stood Canada, just waiting.
On Jan. 18, the two consummated their relationship, if you will. The automaker and Quebec said about 50 Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles are expected to be delivered to Quebec in 2018 for use by government and private fleets.
Canada has been flirting with Toyota throughout 2017, enticing and teasing the automaker with all sorts of possibilities. And Toyota has batted its eyelashes right back in the direction of the Great White North. You could almost hear the wedding bells if you listen hard enough.
The chairman of Toyota Motor Co., Takeshi Uchiyamada, met with Canadaian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains in September 2017 to discuss the automaker’s future here and its push for hydrogen infrastructure.
Toyota says it wants to work with the Government of Canada “to help build the infrastructure required for Canadians to adopt new automotive technology, including hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles such as the Toyota Mirai.”
Toyota Canada and Transition Energetique Quebec, meanwhile, said in September they are going to study the need for hydrogen infrastructure to support the introduction of fuel-cell vehicles in Quebec.
There are plenty of reasons the two would swipe right if they crossed paths on Tinder. Beginning in January 2018, Quebec now mandates that 3.5 per cent of all new-vehicle sales be of the zero-emissions variety — and that percentage will rise as time goes on.
Next door, in Ontario, the federal government in April 2017 awarded Hydrogenics the funding to build two hydrogen fuelling stations for the Greater Toronto Area.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corp. in British Columbia is building a hydrogen fueling station in Vancouver. And it had already built and operated a hydrogen station in North Vancouver several years ago for pickups as part of a demonstration program.
And the Canadian Liberal government has put forth one of the most ambitious environ- mental agendas in a while — if not ever.
Toyota has an ambitious goal of its own, too: selling 30,000 fuel-cell vehicles annually by around 2020, which is impossible without more infrastructure. Or any infrastructure, really.
“In order to promote our fuel-cell vehicles, we need to promote hydrogen infrastruc- ture,” Toyota Senior Managing Officer Shigeki Tomoyama told reporters in July.
It would seem he and his company have found a cheerleader and willing partner in Canada.