Imagine driving a car that doesn’t emit harmful fumes but clean water instead?
A hydrogen-powered vehicle (HPV) was displayed at the third International Conference on Future Mobility (ICFM) in Dubai on Tuesday last week. The car called Mirai (which means ‘The Future’ in Japanese) is manufactured by Japanese carmaker Toyota.
Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the ICFM, Saud Abbasi, managing director of Toyota-UAE, said unlike conventional vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel, HPVs are powered by fuel cells that combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, which runs the motor. No fumes are emitted; only water is produced as a by-product by converting hydrogen gas into electricity. And the water is said to be clean enough to drink.
He added that when it comes to UAE Vision 2021, which is aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuel, hybrid cars and electric vehicles are not the only game in town.
Abassi said these cars run on hydrogen, which is most abundant element in the universe. “We need to tap this rich resource to make us less dependent on fossil fuel.”
Toyota Mirai is not yet commercially available in the UAE but there are three vehicles in the country that are being tested by Toyota for almost a year.
“Our idea is to test this Mirai for a long period to ensure its safety like what we did when we introduced the hybrid Toyota Camry for the Roads and Transport Authority’s Dubai Taxi. We first tested 10 hybrid cars nine years ago and now Dubai Taxi has a fleet of around 1,200 hybrid cars,” Abbasi said.
Abbasi was personally behind the Mirai steering wheel and he said that it can travel for around 500 kilometers (approximately twice back and forth from Dubai to Abu Dhabi) on a full tank. Mirai also has a strong torque so acceleration is brisk.
Abbasi also said that compared to other electric cars, an HPV or fuel-celled car takes only three to five minutes to get full tank, compared to an average of one hour for electric cars to be fully charged.
At present there is only one hydrogen refilling station in the UAE and the entire region and it was unveiled recently at Toyota’s Al Badia showroom in Dubai Festival City. He said he is hoping that this move will eventually usher in the UAE’s transformation into a “hydrogen society” in terms of transportation and mobility.
Dubai tests self-parking vehicles
On the sidelines of the third International Conference on Future Mobility in Dubai, Khaleej Times was given a live demonstration on how a car can park on its own via remote parking assist using a smartphone. Oliver Niederer, customer service executive at Mercedes-Benz ME, showed how the semi-autonomous Mercedes E400 can search for a suitable parking space and park itself automatically under 30 seconds at the press of a button, whilst he retained control of the accelerator and brake at all times.
The car will steer itself until it is safely parked. A note though: The driver should not lift his finger off the smartphone lest the connection with the car is lost and the self-parking is terminated.
Lennart Mueller-Teut, head of marketing and communications at Mercedes-Benz Cars Middle East said: “The Mercedes-Benz E 400, with its host of connected capabilities, demonstrates the great possibilities stemming from the linking of the physical and digital spheres.”
He added: “These connected features are not yet commercially available in the UAE. The E 400 was flown directly from Germany for the Conference.”
KHALEEJ TIMES, DUBAI (UAE)/TNS