NAGOYA -- Toyota will invest about 20 billion yen ($165 million) to triple domestic production capacity for the Mirai fuel cell vehicle in light of strong corporate and public-sector demand.
The automaker will ramp up output of fuel cell stacks and hydrogen tanks at its headquarters factory in Aichi Prefecture, adding two lines by the end of 2015. Equipment will also be upgraded at another Aichi site that handles vehicle assembly.
The Mirai is slated to debut Dec. 15. With strong interest from businesses and public offices, orders will likely exceed the current annual capacity of 700 units by the release date. "We cannot set the delivery time," a Toyota official says.
Exports to the U.S. and Europe are also expected to begin in the summer of 2015. Especially in California, regulations that promote zero-emissions vehicles are seen creating a tailwind. Toyota's current capacity will not be enough to meet brisk demand at home and in the U.S.
Toyota plans to sell 400 Mirais in Japan by the end of 2015. In the U.S., it seeks to move 3,000 units or more by the end of 2017. In Europe, the plan is to sell 50 to 100 units a year around 2016.
Toyota's latest move will likely spur capital investment by companies that build hydrogen stations and manufacturers of related products. Other automakers are also entering the market, with Honda, which is collaborating with General Motors, planning to release a five-seater fuel cell sedan during fiscal 2015.
Fuel cell vehicles are expected to boost the Japanese economy to the tune of 4.4 trillion yen by 2030, according to Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting.