LAS VEGAS — Dr. Michio Kaku thinks Toyota has developed the perfect car.
Kaku, a theoretical physicist and best-selling author, spoke at Toyota’s press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday and talked about the new Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle combines oxygen and hydrogen to create electricity.
The Mirai, priced at $57,000 and available commercially later this year in California, is unique in that it combines oxygen and hydrogen molecules to generate power and only emits water — no exhaust or fumes. The car has a range of 300 miles and goes from 0-to-60 MPH in nine seconds. Unlike electric batteries, hydrogen tanks can be refilled in three-to-five minutes.
Kaku laid out his vision for the “perfect car,” and offered four requirements — all of which described the Mirai:
- A fuel source based on an element that’s the most plentiful in the universe: hydrogen. “Contrast that to oil,” Kaku said. “Nations will kill to secure supplies of oil.”
- A car with as few moving parts as possible. “In a hydrogen fuel cell car, the engine has no moving parts, whatsoever,” Kaku said.
- A car that emits nothing but water. “The word ‘smog’ is going to disappear from the dictionary because we are going to be entering a new age,” Kaku said.
- A car that’s friendly to the consumer. “Usually hydrogen cars are priced at hundreds of thousands of dollars, way beyond the pocketbook of the average person,” Kaku said. “But this car, we’re talking about the neighborhood of $50,000. As mass production, competition, and economies of scale begin to kick in — and as governments begin to subsidize the creation of refueling stations — you’re going to see that cost drop even further.”
Kaku noted that Toyota engineers have assembled “critical mass” with the Mirai, given its range and acceleration abilities.
“They have all the various ingredients to create critical mass to create a hydrogen society,” he said.
Toyota on Monday also announced that it would make all of its 5,680 patents related to fuel cell technology available, royalty-free, to anyone in hopes of driving more innovation.