Feb 10 (Reuters) - Toyota Motors Corp and Lyft Inc said on Wednesday they have launched a partnership to provide an initially limited number of ride-hail drivers in Vancouver, British Columbia, with access to hydrogen-powered Mirai sedans.
Lyft drivers in the city will be able to rent one of 24 Mirais for C$198 ($156) a week, a price described as extremely competitive by Lyft’s general manager for British Columbia, Peter Lukomskyj.
The partnership is part of Lyft’s efforts to switch every vehicle on its platform to zero emissions by 2030.
For Toyota, the tie-up offers the opportunity to introduce consumers to vehicles powered by hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe.
“Everybody who sits in the back seat of (a Mirai) is going to be able to learn a little bit more about hydrogen technology. There’s no way that we could do that on our own,” said Stephen Beatty, Toyota Canada’s vice president, corporate.
Beatty called the Lyft partnership a proof of concept, saying Toyota considered it a test to see how the vehicles were performing before eying nationwide expansions.
Toyota launched the Mirai roughly six years ago, but by the end of September had sold only 11,100 vehicles, with consumers concerned over the lack of fueling stations and resale values. Toyota in December launched a revamped version with a wider range of 500 km (310 miles).
British Columbia has four hydrogen stations, of which three are in Vancouver, according to HTEC Hydrogen Technology & Energy Corporation, which operates the stations and said that refueling takes around 5 minutes.
Hydrogen vehicles’ shorter fueling time and longer ranges make them a more practical option for ride-hail drivers than electric vehicles, Lukomskyj and Beatty said.
Canada in December unveiled a hydrogen strategy aimed at spurring growth in the clean fuel sector and created a C$1.5 billion investment fund for low-carbon fuels. ($1 = C$1.2689) (Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)