Toyota unveils a revamped hydrogen sedan to take on Tesla

TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp (7203.(T) has a completely re-designed from the hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered sedan on Friday in the latest attempt to revive its demand for the niche of the technology, which it hopes to become mainstream.

A prototype of a Toyota Motor Corp. ‘ s second-generation-Mirai fuel-cell car will be shown at the media briefing throughout Tokyo, Japan, October 10, 2019 at the latest. REUTERS/Naomi Tajitsu

Japan’s largest automaker has been developing fuel cell vehicles for more than two decades, but the technology has been eclipsed by the meteoric rise of its arch-rival is powered by a battery and electric vehicles as promoted by the likes of Tesla Inc. (TSLA.D).

Ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show from Oct. 24, Toyota unveiled a prototype of a new hydrogen sedan is built on the same platform as its luxury brand, Lexus ‘ LS model. With the new Mirai model, features a longer driving range than the previous model and been completely redesigned fuel cell stack and the hydrogen tank, according to the company.

“We wanted to make a car that people actually want to buy it, not only because it is an eco-car,” Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the new Mirai, he said at the launch.

“We wanted to do something that is fun to drive.”

Its a sporty redesign, with a long wheelbase and low-slung chassis, this is a clear departure from the first generation of the Mirai, which will take a look at the bulking-up of Prius hybrid.

The new car also has a 30% improvement in driving range of the previous iteration, is about 700 km (435 miles), according to the company.

Tanaka said, in the latest Mirai, it would cost less to make than its predecessor, as there is a shift away from mass production. The current model is largely assembled by hand.

The cost to consumers is about 5 million yen ($46,500) of the subsidies in Japan, the original, the Mirai is the only one of the three fuel-cell cars to be available for him / her. Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) will sell to the Nexo, while Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.(T) for the hiring of the solution.

Toyota has sold fewer than 10,000 of its Mirai, a fuel-cell sedan. it is being touted as a ‘game changer’ at the launch five years ago. By contrast, Tesla sold 25,000 of the battery-powered Model S sedans in the first year and a half.

Toyota declined to disclose a price for the model, and said it would be available by the end of next year in Japan, North America and Europe.

Report by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Mark Potter

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