2021 Mirai World record distance driving team celebrates following their 1,003-km trip on one tank of hydrogen near Paris. Credit: Courtesy Toyota.

When you think of Paris, you think of its many amazing historical sites, museums and sidewalk cafes — you don’t really think of hydrogen, let alone hydrogen-powered cars.

But that is where Toyota decided to test its new Mirai, which is driven by electric motors and fed by a hydrogen fuel-cell instead of battery power.

Starting in Orly, France on May 26, 2021 at 5:43 am, Toyota’s flagship fuel-cell car was filled up with 5.6 kilograms (12 pounds) of hydrogen.

Four drivers were employed to complete the journey, including Toyota Europe Engineer James Olden; Toyota of France product manager Maxime Le Hir; PR manager Marie Gadd; and Victorien Erussard, captain and founder of Energy Observer.

The result: a record-setting 1,003 kilometres distance travelled on one fill of hydrogen.

The challenge took place driven on public roads, south of Paris and in the Loir-et-Cher and Indre-et-Loire areas, and the distance & consumption were certified by an independent authority, ending with a Parisian flourish near the Eifel Tower, which was lit up for the first time by green hydrogen power especially for the record-breaking attempt.

That’s a significantly higher result than the previous record, set by Hyundai NEXO — 778 km (484 miles).

Green hydrogen from the HYSETCO hydrogen station in Orly was used during the record attempt and the average fuel consumption was 0.55 kg/100km.

“It’s an amazing challenge that we achieved with the new Mirai,” said Frank Marotte, CEO of Toyota France.

“Internally, it is the mindset of Start your Impossible, going beyond our own limits, that drives us, and we proved it again today.

“I would like to thank the teams of Toyota France and Toyota Europe, as well as Victorien at Energy Observer, with whom we share the same vision and the same ambition,” he said.

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“It is by strong partnerships that we will be able to contribute to a better and more environmentally-friendly society. With Toyota’s ambition to go ‘Beyond Zero’ in mind: take a seat for the future.”

The Mirai is the second-generation fuel cell electric vehicle from Toyota.

It offers more performance, a sleeker and more dynamic design and new driving dynamics compared to the first-generation product, the company said in a release.

In addition, the increased efficiency of the fuel cell system, together with higher hydrogen storage capacity and better aerodynamics, contribute to an increase of driving range to around 650 km under normal driving conditions, with less than 5 minutes refuelling time at a 700 bar refuelling station.

To achieve this 1,003 km driving distance record, the drivers adopted an “eco-driving” style but no special techniques that could not be used by everyday drivers.

Hydrogen can deliver zero-emission mobility, not only to road transport, but also to trains, boats and aircraft, and to generate energy for industries, companies and households, the company said.

While this is a great feat for hydrogen power, one of the biggest challenges hydrogen-powered vehicles face now is the proper infrastructure for refueling and the cost for owners of the vehicles.

More stations need to be installed, which shouldn’t be too tricky, but the cost is approximately $61 for every charge — whereas electric battery-powered vehicles can simply charge up at their owners’ homes.

“I am very happy to have taken this challenge of 1,000 km beyond the wheel of the new Mirai,” said Victorien Erussad, founder and captain of Energy Observer.

“Toyota has always been at the forefront of hydrogen innovation and our collaboration gets stronger year by year.

“As a former open ocean racer, I need to take challenges and I warmly thank Frank Marotte and his teams to have taken me on this zero-emission adventure, showing that nothing is impossible and that hydrogen mobility is here today!”

Energy Observer, a partner with Toyota in zero emission research, has evolved into a company dealing with exploration and innovations. It recently presented its brand-new exhibition village dedicated to renewable energies and hydrogen in Paris.

The record for longest distanced traveled by a vehicle on any fuel was set back in 2011, when a Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TDI travelled 1,581.88 miles on one tank of diesel. The Passat managed to achieve an average of 76 mpg.

Sources: Toyota, Driving.ca, InsideEVs, Interesting Engineering