Hydrogen Cars Celebrate World Water Day

img2133749830 1473191906655 jpg 2016 Toyota Mirai | photo by Brian Wong

CARS.COM — March 22 is World Water Day, a day to celebrate and promote access to clean water around the globe. For us here at, when we think about water, our minds turn to its atomic components — specifically hydrogen.

Related: 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Review: First Drive

Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are still on the fringes of the green car movement, but we’ve tested two hydrogen vehicles in the past year: the Toyota Mirai and the updated Honda Clarity. Chevrolet also developed a hydrogen fuel-cell pickup truck concept — along with the U.S. Army — called the ZH2.

How much water these vehicles produce varies widely. The Mirai only makes about 0.02 gallons of water per mile since most of the water produced escapes as vapor and it doesn’t have a real collection system. But the ZH2 is optimized to collect the water that forms as a result of the electrolysis process and it can produce up to 2 gallons an hour.

In the spirit of World Water Day, why should that H2O go to waste? Here are a few ways that it could be used:

Portable Potables

I was recently stuck on the side of the road for about four and a half hours waiting for roadside assistance after getting a flat tire (apparently spare tires are no longer a thing, which is another topic for another day). Luckily, I had a full water bottle and a candy bar (Snickers Peanut Butter, highly recommended) on me, since I was in a spot with no reception and no way to get to water or food if needed.

But if I didn’t have water, this problem could have been solved by a fuel-cell vehicle. I collected some water from the Mirai after I tested it and the only reason I couldn’t drink it was because the pipe it came out of was dirty. The water itself that’s produced from the fuel-cell process is clean, so with a dedicated receptacle to collect and store the water in a sterile environment, I would have had something to drink. Install a small spigot in the vehicle and boom — mobile water fountain.

A Living Air Freshener

Instead of hanging a fake tree from your rearview mirror, why not get a real plant? No worries about having to water it — the water could be routed from on board to a drip system to keep it alive.

In addition to smelling nice, NASA research has shown that certain plants can also clean the air and remove some chemicals from their ambient environment. So yes: Growing a flamingo lily on your dashboard is a legitimate thing, and if anyone questions it, just point to NASA.


After an impromptu game of basketball or speed chess, you can really work up a sweat. But what if you have to be somewhere after, like a date? Or a dinner with friends? Nobody wants to be the one stinky person at a gathering.

Toss a portable shower tent and a pressure shower in the trunk, use the water from your hydrogen vehicle to wash up a bit, and that could be the difference between meeting the person of your dreams or writing about cars in your living room. Wait…


Camping is great, but putting out the fire at the end of the night isn’t — until now. Use the water from the vehicle to douse the flames and put a cap on the evening. To paraphrase Smokey Bear: Only you and a Mirai can prevent forest fires.

img 2138129441 1473191907939 jpg 2016 Toyota Mirai | photo by Brian Wong


Photo of Brian Wong
Former L.A. Bureau Chief Brian Wong is a California native with a soft spot for convertibles and free parking. Email Brian Wong

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