Sadly, Toyota’s advanced Motomachi plant in Japan that was previously responsible for the Lexus LFA supercar won’t be tooled up to produce another carbon fiber-bodied performance vehicle. Instead, it will soon start churning out Toyota’s new hydrogen-powered Mirai fuel cell vehicle.
The information was revealed to Automotive News (subscription required) by Toyota sales exec Masamoto Maekawa. He also said that production of the Mirai will only top 700 units in the car’s first year. By comparison, Lexus built 500 LFAs at the plant over a period of one year.
Before deciding on building the Mirai at Motomachi, Toyota had looked at other uses for the plant. One possibility was to use the plant to produce carbon fiber components for various Toyota and Lexus models. Toyota also briefly used the plant to build a limited number of carbon fiber bicycles.
One of the main reasons Motomachi is a good match for the Mirai is that the car’s complex nature requires a lot of hands-on work rather than highly-automated processes common to Toyota’s other plants. Unfortunately, this attention to detail means production needs to be limited.
“Each unit is carefully built with utmost care,” Maekawa explained. "So therefore the production volume might be limited.”
Toyota is also wary that demand may be limited until adequate hydrogen refueling infrastructure is in place. To help spur this on, at least here in the U.S., the automaker has teamed up with firms on the east and west coasts to build hydrogen refueling stations along busy corridors.
The 2016 Toyota Mirai will reach showrooms next summer, priced from $57,500 before incentives. For more information, including driving impressions, check out the test drive from Green Car Reports.