Our world is generally pretty well understood. There are no more undiscovered continents, we’re in pretty much constant communication with everyone, everywhere, all the damn time, which means true mysteries are that much more precious. That’s why I’d like all of you to really enjoy knowing the fact that there is currently a hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai for sale in New Jersey, a mere 2,364 miles from the nearest hydrogen fueling station in America.
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To be fair, if you’re willing to leave the United States and drive into Canada, you could refuel your Mirai only 359 miles away in Mississauga, Ontario. Even so, that all just begs the fundamental question: what the hell is a hydrogen-sucking Toyota Mirai doing in New Jersey at all?
I was emailed this listing by a reader named Matt, who was pretty baffled as well. What’s going on here? Does the dealer think they can actually sell the car in New Jersey with no place to fill it up that doesn’t require a days-long road trip (if you want to do it domestically) or an international border crossing?
I mean, the car couldn’t even have gotten there under its own power, assuming it came from California (a likely assumption, as it’s really the only place Mirais are sold) since the entire interior of America is a hydrogen desert. That means this thing didn’t just show up there by accident when some adventurous Mirai owner decided to take a road trip to get really good pizza and got stranded—it was sent there deliberately.
But by whom? And why?
I called the dealer, but they were a high-volume dealer and the people I spoke with had no idea about the car at all, though I was told that they do ship many cars to California, which is really one of the few reasonable outcomes for this car. Still, no clue as to how they ended up with it in the first place. Maybe it got picked up at auction because someone thought it was a Prius.
I checked the Mirai owner’s forums, and, damn, if you want to feel sympathy or perhaps enjoy some schadenfreude at the expense of a group of car owners, you can’t do much better than these poor bastards. They seem to get between 210 and 240 miles from a tank of hydrogen, and that tank tends to cost them around $70, which is about 3.5 miles per dollar.
Let’s compare that to a gasoline car: average gas prices now are about $2.60, and an average gas tank is, oh, maybe a bit over 15 gallons, so an average fill up is, say, $40. Average fuel economy right now is close to 25 MPG, so for a 15 gallon tank that’s 375 miles per tank, which, divided by $40, comes to 9.375 miles per dollar, which means gas is much cheaper than hydrogen.
Of course, that’s if you can find a station, and, if you do, you may have to deal with stuff like this:
Hi all, i just want to share my terrible fueling experience with Mirai owners or anyone who wants to get a Mirai.
For my personal experience, no speaking of the fuel station constantly shut off for repair (i say 5 out of 10 times) it happened to me once that the hose of the dispenser blew off right next to me and caused a huge explosion. I couldn’t image if i was holding the nozzle, and i probably would in the hospital now.
Yep, the hose from the fuel dispenser blew off next to this guy and caused an explosion. That’s not ideal.
So, again, why the hell is this car in New Jersey? The best answer I can come up with is that it may have been brought over as part of an effort to set up some hydrogen fueling stations in the Northeast, an effort in which Toyota was a partner.
Of course, the articles I found about this are all from mid 2016 or early 2017, and now, more than two years later, New Jersey has precisely zero (0) hydrogen fueling stations, a number it shares with the entire East Coast.
So, that’s my best guess—someone, maybe even Toyota themselves, brought this sad, effectively useless Mirai out from California to New Jersey or the surrounding area in hopes that at some point soon, a hydrogen station would open up.
That never happened, so now this Mirai sits in a used car lot, whatever H2 left in its tanks all it’s likely to get in the near future. Is this car even sellable? There’s Mirais for sale in California, if you really want one. Why would you ship one all the way across the country? The price isn’t any better, really. Also, it’s still very ugly.
Maybe they’re hoping for some kind of regular hydrogen delivery to New Jersey? I mean, I guess that could work, but I seem to remember it not going so well that one time they did try to bring a whole bunch of hydrogen to New Jersey.
Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)