Mar 20, 2021

2021 Toyota Mirai - A Hydrogen Lexus? For free?!

Have you ever made money buying a new car? I think I did.

Recently, I came across an awesome deal on the redesigned Toyota Mirai and couldn't pass it up. I've been itching to join the green energy revolution but pricing (and charging hassles) never made sense...until now.

If we exclude tax, I'm actually making a few hundred bucks off a brand new, $52k car!
It's crazy. Too crazy to pass up, especially when you're talking about a car that looks this good:

Front view
This car looks like a cross between the Lexus LFA (my dream car) and the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ. Dare I say it looks better than the new Supra?🤪

Sculpted sides reminds me of the LFA
The rear looks like an Audi A7

Right-rear view

Rear light bar & lic plate light

Power-folding mirrors and puddle light

About the car

This is the second generation Toyota Mirai. Like the first gen, this is a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV). 
For 2021, the Mirai is completely redesigned. It is now a Rear Wheel Drive, 4-door sedan outputting 182HP. With instant electric torque, this thing feels pretty peppy (especially in Sports mode). Taking over someone on the freeway is a cinch.

The ride is buttery smooth (even with 19" wheels) and cabin noise is very well contained. This car drives like it's gliding on air. It has more to do with the car being an EV, but I sat in Teslas before and don't recall them being this smooth. I may have selective memory. 😊

Interior design is modern and elegant. The Soft-Tex material (faux leather) feels very good. I didn't miss my previous car's perforated leather seats as much as I thought. I've owned and rented many cars, but never had such a smooth and quiet driving experience.

Although the interior is smaller than my previous full-size sedan (Huyndai Azera), the front seats have plenty of room. Rear seats are a bit cramped due to the battery being sandwiched between them and the small trunk, but they're decent. That middle seat can be used too, but it's not recommended. Just flip down the arm-rest and forget about that 5th seat.

The '21 Mirai is built on Lexus LS500's platform and is hand made from 100% Japanese parts in Toyota's Motomachi plant -- the same plant where Toyota's top of the line LFA and LC were made.

For more information, check out this video overview as well as this introduction by Toyota

Unexpected/interesting features

  • Power folding mirrors w/ puddle lights - This is the first time I have this feature and it is very nice. The car knows when you're near (proximity key) and automatically turns on puddle lights to help you find the handles. Once you touch the handle, it auto-unlocks and unfolds the mirrors. Hovering your palm inside the handle does the same. 😱
    Bonus feature: you can set each mirror to have 2 positions so, when backing up, one or both mirrors can tilt down to help you see the curb.
  • Air purification - Because this car sucks in air, filters it for pure oxygen, then combines it with hydrogen to power the engine, it's actually cleaning air. I'm effectively driving an air purifier around town. Toyota calls it "minus emission". I'm not adding emission to the environment, but  actually removing emission? Whoa! You can find more details here.
  • Auto-leveling headlights - Another first for me. The low beam on this car is bright and projects very far. Auto-leveling is needed so you don't blind people facing you when going down hill. Because the headlight is so capable, I don't miss the HID lights on my previous car at all.
  • Auto high-beam - I've been wanting this for a while. Unfortunately, this car being locked to a metropolitan areas means I won't get to use it much. Edit: I took the car to Rancho Palos Verdes in May and, going up and down those hills was awesome, especially at night where auto high-beam was put to great use.
  • Radar cruise control - I've had cc in most cars owned and rented in the last 10 years but never really use them. However, once I used the Mirai's radar cc, I'm hooked. Automatic speed control, along with auto-steering (to keep you in lane) is awesome. I now understand the lure of automated driving. It felt weird, and dangerous at times, but I got used to it. Toyota designed this technology to assist you so it works very well when you actively participate in steering and braking. The car does what it does but you correct it when you need (like feathering the brakes when you can predict a slow down). The car does a decent job but it can't really "see" conditions that could lead to a slow down, like when someone abruptly changes into your lane. It simply detects the front vehicle's speed as it comes within radar range and adjusts speed accordingly. 
  • Surround camera is high resolution and looks awesome (much better than my 2017 Murano). Auto view makes it immensely useful. As you roll to a stop, the camera switches on to show everything around you. This way, you can see if there's adequate gap between you and the next car/lane. It also shows how far you are to the pedestrian lane or, when navigating a tight driveway, lets you see if you have adequate clearance. Combined with front and rear sensors, you now have a lot less reason to hit anything. Despite all this, I'll probably hit something anyway. 😜

The deal (+ other financial tidbits)

  • $52,504 (XLE trim + premium paint + tech pkg & floor mats, etc)
  • - $20,000 Toyota financial rebate (taxable)
  • - $5,004 dealer discounts and other incentives. Your mileage may vary here as it took a lot to get to this discount level. Most people will be at around $2-3k discount, especially now when the Mirai is selling like hotcakes. 
  • = $27,500 (car price before tax)
  • - $8,000 Federal tax credit
  • - $4,500 CA rebate
  • = $15,000
  • - $15,000 Toyota fuel credit card (use over 6 years)
  • = $0 (before tax, titles, docs)
    *Note: my deal is actually better than this (hence I "made money"). I felt I had to give something back so I bought the extended warranty & paint protection package. I plan to keep the car for 6 yrs so these are worthy spends.
  • 0% interest financing for up to 72 months. Depending on your credit, this means an extra $4k to $5k saving.
    • First, financing charges for $0 down on a deal like this (roughly $33k OTD) is around $4k (that's with low interest). With typical interest rates, it's more like a $5k saving. 
    • Second, your money is worth more now than in the future due to inflation so, being able to spread $33k over 6 years for free is a great deal. Considering we're about to enter a hyper-inflationary period, this is an even bigger deal.
  • Referral bonus: If you're going to take advantage of this deal, email me your first and last name and I will set you up with a referral bonus worth up to $400. Details of the referral program is available here. Toyota matches the name and email address on your purchase to the referral so use the same info you'll use on your purchase. Toyota stopped this program in May as Mirai became more popular.


  • HOV sticker that expires in 2024. As we emerge from pandemic, freeways are going to be packed again. In fact, 405 traffic is already back to where it was. Being able to use the carpool lane by myself is a big plus. Many people bought EVs expressly for this purpose. For me, it's a nice icing on and already sweet cake.
  • Included maintenance for 3 years. This usually costs around $1,500 for the first 3 years. For a Mirai, it may be more as parts and things that need maintenance are different (more expensive?). 
  • All of the items below:

What's the catch?

The car is amazing, but you have to deal with hard to find and expensive hydrogen fuel.
  1. Fuel stations are rare and fueling could be problematic - Finding a station is a challenge. You also have to contend with occasional downed pumps, stuck nozzle, and exhausted stations. Fortunately, I live near 3 stations, and a few more are between work and home so I'm pretty well covered. Here's how to find a station near you.
    More stations are expected to come online by end of 2021 (64 total in CA).

  2. Hydrogen is still expensive - Even though it has gone down in price, Hydrogen (or H2) is still around $16.8 per kilogram. This car has a tank capacity of 5.6 kg, giving it max range of 402 miles (more like 340). In comparison, my 2017 Nissan Murano (23mpg) holds 19 gallons for a real-world range of 380 miles. Here's a fuel cost comparison:

    Mirai: $16.8/kg x 5.6kg / 340 miles =  27. 7 cents/mile.
    Murano: $3.97/gal x 19gal / 380 miles = 19.8 cents/mile.
    So, we're looking at a roughly 28% premium over gasoline.
My goal is to max out that $15k fuel card (probably in 4.5 years) while putting wear and tear on the Mirai (saving maintenance costs on my other car), then relegate it to secondary status for weekend/leisure driving.

Once the Mirai learns your eco driving pattern, you'll see a range in the 330+ miles, closer to that published 402.
8% of the tank is hidden so you aren't ever stranded when remaining range hits zero. Because of this, you will never observe the full 402 miles.
In 4 days, my range already crept up to around 320, even though I'm still in "new car mode" and hitting that acceleration fairly often. Average for me should be around 340 per tank.
Update: I consistently get 350+ miles per tank now (69 MPGe). Even though the range meter shows 320 at full, actual driving range is 30+ miles more. Here's a snapshot before one of my refuels:

Hydrogen is more expensive, but not that far away. As you do more eco driving, overall cost goes down. If you find cheap hydrogen (many stations now offer H2 at $13/kg), you're saving even more. Don't forget, you're also saving on maintenance (3yr included) vs your gasoline car.

Why is Toyota doing this?

It's obvious that the Mirai is Toyota's loss leader. It is meant to get people into hydrogen cars and to drive demand for a hydrogen infrastructure. But Toyota has been in the FCEV game since 2015 (1st gen Mirai), why offer so much discounts on a new version? Discussions I've read about Toyota clearing out these Mirais make no sense. That's a lot of R&D and investments to just liquidate and give up on hydrogen. I think the answer is just the opposite: Toyota realized their mistake with the original Mirai and is rectifying it by making a hydrogen car people actually want to drive. Offer a crazy incentive to get people in and get a whole new generation of buyers to talk about it. I don't know about you but that strategy worked on me.
Here's a few other points I found in my research:
  1. EV market is exploding and will only continue the upward trend to replace ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars. While other automakers are in various stages of rolling out EVs, Toyota chose to focus on Hydrogen as  their EV play. So, the Mirai is their Tesla fighter (for now). It makes sense that the new Mirai looks so good and performs so well. 
  2. All automakers operating in climate-conscious states like California are required to have carbon credits to offset sales of their gasoline cars. For now, the Mirai is part of Toyota's carbon offset, but they are heavily invested in hydrogen, from an R&D perspective as well as infrastructure. Rumor has it that Lexus will introduce a hydrogen car later this year or next. Some say the Mirai was it, but it seems to have inspired some people at Lexus. Actually, the new Mirai is built on a Lexus platform, in a Lexus plant, but they kept it under Toyota badge as it is their "green halo" car.
  3. By introducing a sexier, more robust Mirai, Toyota is making hydrogen more acceptable, even desirable, to the masses. This means more hydrogen cars on the road, which will push up demand for more hydrogen infrastructure. At the very least, more hydrogen cars makes it easier for infrastructure builders to justify their investment. It will also help convince governmental entities to further invest in H2 infrastructure.
  4. Japan is betting big on hydrogen economy and Toyota is leading the way. It's no longer just Toyota driving the hydrogen conversation.  On the automobile front, Huyndai now has the Nexo and Honda has the Clarity as their hydrogen offerings. Mercedes is going to introduce a hybrid gas & hydrogen SUV soon. In addition, due to its energy scalability in a moving vehicle platform (lugging larger and heavier batteries around to extend range isn't going to work), hydrogen is vastly superior for commercial trucks, buses, vans, and long haulers. Those markets will help, if not drive, rapid construction of hydrogen infrastructure.
As you can see, the new Mirai makes a lot of sense for Toyota. They're hoping it makes sense to you too.


This is the most expensive car I've ever purchased ($52.5k), but it's also my least expensive car.

All in all, I'd like to think of the Mirai as a $5k Lexus (tax, title, licenses). 
I'm refueling once a week at the 40% mark. That's around $50 a week. At that rate, $15k would last about 5.7 years. Every mile of use after the $15k card is gravy.
Hopefully H2 would be cheaper by then. I really think H2 could make it as a reliable alternate fuel. For now, I'm happy to be a guinea pig. I need to carbon offset my SUV anyway 😁.

Yeah, H2 harvesting/processing isn't that green, but greener than gasoline, and getting better.

There's a lot of caveats to owning this car so it won't make sense for most people. Make sure you are OK with the caveats before buying.

Fueling experience

Here's what my first refueling experience looks like. This was at an Arco gas station in Long Beach, right off the 405.

I used H70 (denser hydrogen gas). This is recommended.

This brochure picture is of my real car 😁

Easy to understand instructions
The fueling nozzle after connector removal. It ices up because compressed hydrogen is very cold.

The damage. You can see the price per kg of H2.

Hydrogen is roughly twice as expensive as gasoline but, since it's more efficient, you're paying about 25% more per mile. Here is about 55% of my tank, or the cost of about 180 miles. Mind you I've been hitting the pedal pretty hard so, over time, these numbers will improve. Also, hydrogen gas cost will gradually decrease too.
Of course, I'm putting this on my $15k gas card. 😉

The pump was pretty nice but, as it was pumping hydrogen, it leaks water. Perhaps that's an expected byproduct due to condensation? 🤔

ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast


  1. Thank you for your feedback.
    The main issue is that the car is not greener than a gas car (h2 production + h2 transport and compression + materials of car production)
    Also, h2 stations have a huge cost and you can't charge at home, h2 is dangerous and leaks, and takes far too much space in the car

  2. I just purchased a Mirai yesterday and after sealing the deal and discussing the financing they brought up Toyota Extra Care Platinum extended warrantee. The car comes with no cost maintenance for three years but he told me that between 3 and 6 years there could be some large maintenance costs to the vehicle and that it would be prudent to get it. "Nearly everyone gets it" he says. I would only be allowed to purchase it then, not after I drove away- a situation I thought was manipulative. The cost was $4500, high I thought, but since I hadn't researched this ahead of time and it was pushing 10 PM and he said I could cancel it if I wanted to I went ahead and got it. Anybody have any thoughts on this. Was anyone faced with the same situation? Will the maintenance fees be high?

    1. Sorry for the late reply but you can buy it online for cheap. And you can also return the extended warranty too. I got suckered into it and canceled out of it to buy it online. Contact [email protected]. She offers the same extended warranty for msrp (without typical dealer markup). I got mine for about $1500.

    2. Hi, I've been researching this. Maintenance (the Extra Care or Service Care plans) is different that unexpected repair (VSA). I have read that some folks get both...

    3. I got the 6yr/65k maintenance package (Toyota Care Plus) and the 7yr/75k warranty extension (Toyota Extra Care)