It’s being talked up as an internet sensation, the appearance this week of Back to the Future I, II, III stars Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in an advertising campaign for Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai sedan.
It’s the 30th anniversary of the original film and ‘Marty’ and ‘Doc’ have been hired to launch the futuristic new car – on the very day they time-traveled to in Future II: October 21, 2015.
The hydrogen-powered sedan is called the Mirai (Japanese for ‘future’) and is being delivered to customers in California on Wednesday. A video with Marty and Doc and the Mirai will go live then, too.
Toyota is cashing in on the synergy between the Mirai and the movie – it will also unveil a Tacoma pick-up, customised to look like the truck Marty wanted so badly in Future I.
Meantime, the two are on YouTube now, sitting in a café and talking about stuff that’s been invented in the past 30 years. Fox has been battling Parkinson’s disease for some time.
Toyota believes hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles will contribute to the future of motoring for the next 100 years. Significantly, it has moved away from the development of battery-only vehicles, instead settling for more mainstream petrol-electric hybrids.
The Mirai is a front-wheel drive four-door, 4.9m long and 1.82m wide and weighing 1850kg. It has been on sale in Japan for the past year, went into Europe last month, and the US this month.
It has a fairly typical suspension system, MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear. But that’s where the ‘conventional’ similarities end.
The picture of the Mirai FCV (fuel cell vehicle) on this page is perhaps notable for the two large air intakes on each side of the grille. They pull in hydrogen and oxygen from the air to feed the fuel-cell stack. The chemical reaction creates emission-free electricity to drive the vehicle.
Under the Mirai’s bonnet is an electric motor mounted east-west. On top of that is a power control unit. The fuel cell stack is further back, under the front seats, and its booster sits between them.
The Mirai has two hydrogen fuel tanks, one under the front seats and the other behind the rear seats. Toyota engineers are proud of the compact arrangement of the stack itself.
It’s 50 per cent lighter than a previous design and delivers 114kW of power and 330Nm of torque to the front wheels via a six-speed gearbox. Range is said to be 500km.