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The Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, has been used as the pace car at the Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, Virginia at the weekend.

The Mirai is a four-door, mid-size sedan that uses no gasoline and emits nothing but water vapour. The fuel cell electric vehicle is powered by hydrogen, refuels in about five minutes and travels up to 500 kilometres on a full tank. It will go on sale in California later this year.

Toyota currently provides pace cars at 12 of the 23 tracks hosting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events. The Mirai was used only for Saturday night’s race; the Camry Hybrid was the pace car for the XFINITY support series.

It’s certainly an interesting technology and there have been hydrogen filling stations in California for a while now. Is it the next big fuel technology or another stop-gap on the way to us getting a Mr. Fusion?

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One thing that confuses us here at Auto Clique, is why are Toyota releasing hybrids and alternative fuel cars at NASCAR races? NASCAR is a celebration of all things petrol, and its core audience wants to hear a big, noisy flame-spitting V8.

Maybe Toyota are taking a stealth approach?

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Personally I’m not sold on the looks of this car. The front seems to be trying to look all space-age and futuristic. The side seems to be standard bland American market Sedan and I’m not sure what to make of the rear.

What do you think?

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