Introduction Toyota Mirai |
Monday, January 18th 2016
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Introduction Toyota Mirai

Technology update january 2016

As vehicle manufacturers continue to design and build safer and more fuel efficient vehicles, the potential hazards and challenges for emergency responders when dealing with these new vehicles are changing as well.  The Toyota Mirai, with its hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system is another example of why it is imperative that rescuers know what’s inside

Read more in this technology update!


The new Toyota Mirai joins several other fuel cell vehicles that are currently available from auto manufacturers. The Mirai is initially being delivered in small numbers in the Japanese, North American, and European markets. This vehicle, like any other alternative energy vehicle, poses some new and unique characteristics that rescuers need to be prepared to handle. 

The basic concept of fuel cell technology is that hydrogen goes through a chemical chain reaction that produces electricity.  This electric is stored in batteries and used to drive electric motors for propulsion.   The exhaust from a fuel cell vehicle is plain old water.  An easy way to think about how this vehicle operates is more or less a combination of the technology used in a hybrid/electric vehicle with the propulsion system part from a vehicle powered with a compressed gas such as CNG. 

The Moditech Crash Recovery System (“CRS”) identifies the location of the two 10,000 psi (700 bar) hydrogen storage cylinders, the fuel cell, high voltage wiring, and the associated other high voltage components.  The high voltage battery is a 245 volt nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery and is located to the rear of the vehicle. 

Utilizing the Moditech CRS, rescuers are shown the manufacturer’s recommended shut-down procedures to make the vehicle safe for extrication operations for both rescuers and victims. 

The Mirai still makes use of a 12V battery and disabling the 12V battery AND securing the vehicle’s ignition begins the process of shutting the vehicle down and making the vehicle safe for extrication. 


Even though the Mirai stores hydrogen at 10,000 psi  (700 bar), the storage system can generally be compared to the storage systems used for other vehicles that are powered with compressed gas, especially compressed natural gas (CNG). In case of a detected collision the electromagnetic gas tank valves will be closed to stop the fuel supply. Gas can and should only exit the tank in case of a vehicle fire, where a pressure relief devices is intended to vent the hydrogen to the atmosphere. Rescuers need to remember that despite the fact that the vehicle is powered by highly sophisticated propulsion system technology, the Mirai is also equipped with a state-of the art restraint system and other rescue relevant components. Rescuers need to recognize these challenges and hazards and be able to disable and/or avoid these hazards.


The Toyota Mirai is just the next challenge in the ever changing world of modern vehicle technology and the potential concerns facing rescuers.  The Moditech Crash Recovery system is specifically designed to allow rescuers to “know what’s inside” thus allowing a safe and patient-oriented rescue. 

In short, how to deactivate:

  • When the 'Ready' indicator in the instrument cluster is illuminated, press the Start/Stop button once.
  • If possible remove the electronic key and keep at least 16 ft. (5 m) away from the vehicle.
  • Disconnect the 12 Volt battery.

If Start/Stop button is not accessible:

  • Remove the indicated fuses from the fusebox.
  • Disconnect the 12 Volt battery.

To learn more about exactly how the Mirai’s fuel cell technology works, check out this YouTube video: The Mirai will be added to the Crash Recovery System database end of January. Make sure to update your systems!


Eric J. Rickenbach ("EJR") is a 30-year veteran of the volunteer emergency services from Rehrersburg, Pennsylvania (USA). He is a rescue instructor specializing in vehicle rescue, with particular interest in new car construction, energy, and safety systems. In addition to teaching and research, Eric is active in several vehicle rescue-related committees.