Melbourne’s Hobson’s Bay City Council will be given three Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric cars to test over a 12-week period – the first vehicles of their kind to be driven under real-world conditions in Australia.
The Mirais will be driven by council staff in their day-to-day duties, and refuelled at a mobile hydrogen refuelling station at Toyota’s former automotive plant at Altona, not far from Hobson’s Bay.
We are proud to trial Toyota Australia’s new hydrogen fuel cell powered cars 🚗 as part of Council’s operations fleet for three months. Using these vehicles is all about reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to meet our community’s environmental goals. https://t.co/38LV8KxDLi pic.twitter.com/xBq98oB4oG
— Hobsons Bay Council (@HobsonsBayCC) November 5, 2018
The cars, which display the vehicles’ 550km range and fuel type prominently on the body, mark an important step towards normalising the presence of FCEVs on Australian roads.
The trial is the first of several to be run in Australia by Toyota over the next three years.
“It’s an exciting first step to not only build greater awareness about this new technology and the Mirai FCEV, but it’s also step towards a cleaner, greener future,” said Toyota Australia’s manager of advanced technology vehicles and site development, Matt MacLeod.
“We know that it’s only a matter of time before CO2 regulations arrive in Australia, and that’s why there is such a huge focus on zero emission vehicles like the Mirai.
“This trial is a step in the right direction and that’s why we’re excited to partner with Hobson’s Bay City Council to see these Mirai used in a number of real-world applications,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity to highlight the fact that these cars drive just like any other vehicle, except they don’t make any engine noise and emit nothing but water vapour.”
For everyday Australians, the Mirai is not available for sale yet in Australia – “mainly because there isn’t existing hydrogen refuelling infrastructure to support it,” says MacLeod.
But Hydrogen Mobility Australia CEO Claire Johnson says the Toyota trials will help to drive the start of a hydrogen industry here – which has the potential to add $1.7 billion to the economy.
“Hydrogen mobility is being recognised by governments around the world to meet their environmental and economic goals, Johnson said.
“In Australia, we are working with governments at all levels to accelerate the introduction of hydrogen transport with positive progress to date, however public-private partnerships will be essential for the long-term success of this important sector.”
For the Hobson’s Bay Council, the trial forms part of its 2030 Community Vision, which focuses on sustainable practices, and will assist the council in achieving its goal of zero net emissions for operations by 2020.
“This is such an exciting opportunity to partner with our friends at Toyota and experience their emerging technologies,” said Hobson’s Bay mayor Angela Altair.
“We are proud to take a leadership role in supporting low emissions vehicles and the development of new and innovative technologies that address climate change.”
Melbourne will also be the testing ground for a trial for hydrogen fuel cell forklifts at the Altona plant, the first of its kind to be conducted outside of Japan.
In addition to being completely free of CO2 emissions, the forklifts and the Toyota Mirais present an opportunity to use sustainable hydrogen generation processes using nothing but the sun, win and water – not only further reducing CO2 emissions but also saving money.
“There is a high potential for energy cost savings,” said Toyota’s general manager of corporate compliance and project development, Bob Walmsley.
The forklifts are also easier to use, he says.
“With conventional forklift special care is needed when charging and maintaining the battery, whereas a FC forklift is considered simpler when it comes to refuelling and scheduled maintenance.”
Toyota has its eyes set on becoming the leader in FCEV technology in Australia, having been instrumental in setting up the industry association Hydrogen Mobility Australia with Hyundai in 2017.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.