SPEAK OF THE DEVIL.
People are saying that the Toyota Mirai is going to give Tesla a run for its money. I’d love to believe that. Toyotas are notoriously affordable in comparison to the Model S, over which I have spent many a long drive salivating. However, much as I’d love to trade in my gas guzzler for a hydrogen-powered futuremobile right now, my guess is that I’ll need to wait maybe twenty years for Toyota’s gamble to pan out.
First of all, I have a lot of respect for Toyota as a company. The last car I owned had a Toyota engine and when I got rid of it at 150,000 miles, it was still capable of making a 400-mile trip as long as you were willing to dump two quarts of oil into it at regular intervals. From the perspective of the absolute non-businessperson writing this blog post, their business strategies seem pretty well thought-out. If it were any other company inventing a completely new power source for automobiles, I’d be leery. But toyota’s good name has me hopefully optimistic.
That said, I see some problems for them on the horizon.
First of all, I think they’re going to have a hell of a time if they want to sell this thing in the U.S. Building an infrastructure won’t necessarily be a practical issue – Tesla’s been there and as a company, their market base is far smaller than Toyota’s. (At least Toyota has something other than luxury cars in production.) But an energy source that isn’t gas? In a country that freaking loves gas? I anticipate a veritable fiesta of regulation funded by fossil fuel interests. I have a feeling that regulating the cars themselves is going to be hard, especially since there’ll be a spike of interest. Wealthy idealists and collectors might be willing enough to get their hands on a Mirai that they’re willing to jump through a few hoops and hand out a little extra cash. But regulating the hydrogen filling stations – ay, there’s the rub. There are all kinds of weak points there, from ensuring hydrogen quality to making sure the damn thing doesn’t blow up. Fighting that will cost a nice chunk of change. Don’t get me wrong: I’m on board with a greener car. I happen to be aware that gasoline blows up too. But, you know, “the CHILLING DANGERS of HYDROGEN BOMB CARS” is something that can be media-spun pretty easily. My guess is that regulation will keep fuel cell cars outside of your average commuter’s budget for a while yet, and by the time the mainland U.S. sees them in significant supply, there may be better options out there.
Nevertheless, it’s a step toward the realization of my first video game car come true. (Minus the mutants and the radioactivity, of course.)
So, my neighbor and I have been engaged in a cold war (heh) of parking space ever since the roads in my town became mostly impassable. We’re lucky (?) enough to share off-street parking, and if I manage to get my car to the interior of the space, there’s no problem. My neighbor is far more alacritous than I and, despite all evidence to to contrary, probably does not enjoy giving me the stink eye when I emerge, bleary and eyesore after a late night of freelancing, to move my poor little busted-up Nissan out of the way of her spiffy smarthipstermobile.
I’m given to understand that sea levels in Boston are, in fact, rising. Now that I’m driving 70 miles a day for my part-time library gig, I feel that I may be the tipping point. Me. Personally. Until I began driving, I never heard about a sea level rise in Boston.
Bitterly do I I weep as I burn the dead dinosaurs before the God of Rent and Bills and Career and Stuff.
But there’s a Worst Part. In the course of interacting with my neighbor, I nearly obliterated my car, her smarthipstermobile, her, and her boyfriend’s hipster bicycle because I did not have snow tires, a truth which caused me to slide into a wall and damage my vehicle while simultaneously cementing the neighbor’s opinion of me as a hazard to her life. Very well. Determined to be a good citizen and at my fiancee’s insistence that she wanted a living wife, I purchased and installed two spiffy snow tires. Would you believe that those spinning turds increase the gas consumption of my car by close to 5%?
I like my job. I love being a librarian. But dear God do I hate driving. As I rocket down the road, all that runs through my mind is a litany of “I’m sorry grandchildren, I’m sorry grandchildren, I’m sorry grandchildren” until the very noise of those spiffy damned snow tire spinning turds mocks me. What’s the point of being an environmentally conscious human if you can’t afford to maintain an environmentally conscious lifestyle?