It’s safe to say that Toyota’s hydrogen-powered cars haven’t exactly been flying off dealer lots. This has a lot to do with the fact that it’s almost impossible to find hydrogen fueling stations outside of Southern California, and that the original Mirai was trouser-damagingly ugly. Recently, though, Toyota seems to have pivoted to a new niche market: Popes. And it looks like they’ve captured an impressive 50 percent of that market so far.
They captured half the market by building a custom hydrogen fuel-cell Mirai for Pope Francis when he visits Japan, paid for by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Japan. If they can just get the current Coptic Pope, Tawadras II, into a new Mirai as well, then they can have the entire Papal car-buying market locked up tight, and the beleaguered Mirai will have finally found its niche.
The Mirai differs from its normal production form by being a partial convertible, with the roof chopped off behind the B-pillar, and replaced with a large, flat canopy, raised on four thin columns, covering a special elevated Pope-seat, which is surrounded by safety rails to keep harm from coming to the Pontiff (or maybe keep the Pope from attacking the crowd, if things go that way) along with a pair of glass panels with gilded inset Vatican crests.
A set of drop-down steps have been added to aid any Popes who may choose to enter the car.
The fuel-cell-powered Mirai creates electricity by combining hydrogen stored in its fuel tanks with oxygen from the air, with pure water produced as the only by-product. The water is stored in a reservoir in the Mirai, suggesting that if the Pope were so inclined, that water could be blessed into Holy Water, making the Mirai the first car ever to produce Holy Water as its emissions.
It’s also worth noting that this will make the Mirai the world’s leader in cars with the highest percentage of owners who are Popes.
If Pope Francis decides to take the hydrogen Mirai back home with him to Vatican City to cruise around in, he should likely be informed that the nearest hydrogen fueling station is a six-and-a-half hour drive away:
Man, even having God as your direct boss doesn’t seem to be able to help you get hydrogen cars fueled any easier.