Trucks at Work

Hinting at a potential hydrogen future

Almost 30 years ago this month, the first of the three Back to the Future films hit the big screen; cinematic history Universal pictures is marking with a huge marketing campaign.

Automotive giant Toyota is getting a role in the Back to the Future marketing blitz, too, and for an interesting reason: the date of October 21, 2015. In the second film of the series, that’s the future time mark mad scientist “Doc Brown” (played by Christopher Lloyd) enters into the computer powering his time-traveling DeLorean sports car.

In the second film, Doc Brown and Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) travel to the future – specifically October of 2015 – to straighten out the yet-to-be McFly family; of course creating more problems and chaos along the way. Of course, the audience is also supposed to get a glimpse of what “the future” will be like in 2015; an era of flying cars, wacky self-adjusting clothing, hover boards, etc.

So, where does Toyota fit into all of this? The Japanese automaker is hopping on the October 21 bandwagon to officially begin sales of its Mirai hydrogen-fired fuel cell vehicle.

“This Back to the Future-inspired milestone has taken 30 years to arrive, and Toyota has been developing hydrogen fuel cell technology almost that long,” noted Bill Fay, Toyota division group VP and GM, in a statement. “There’s no better way to generate excitement for a turning point in automotive history than with a film that celebrated the possibilities of the future.”

Lloyd and Fox are also participating in Toyota’s marketing effort for the Mirai as well.

“Over the years we’ve had a lot of fun predicting which Back to the Future fictional 2015 technology would arrive by the real year,” Fox noted in a statement. “I think fans are going to have a good time with what Toyota sees as a true possibility for transportation. It’s actually really cool.”

Toyota’s ongoing “Fueled by Everything” digital campaign is promoting the potential of hydrogen as a vehicle fuel as it can be produced from a variety of “renewable” energy sources like solar, wind and biogas – plus of course its “green” environmental footprint as the vehicle’s only tailpipe emission is water.

Below you'll find a nice overview of how the Mirai's fuel cell propulsion system works.

For a little extra insight into this "next-generation" vehicle, check out how it is assembled:

While the Mirai represents Toyota’s "vision" of the future, the automaker apparently couldn’t resist having a bit of fun with other aspects of the Back to the Future past. For example, Marty McFly’s “dream truck” in the first movie is a tricked-out Toyota Tacoma pickup - and a re-creation of that light truck will be shown off during the Oct. 21 hullabaloo.

“While there are a lot of brands and activations that are celebrating the Back to the Future milestone, Toyota stands apart for their nod to the future and the past with the auto technology depicted in the movies,” said Bob Gale, Back to the Future co-creator and producer. “When Toyota approached us about helping tell a bigger story about the future and innovation with the Mirai, we loved the direction – and who can resist Marty’s retro Toyota truck?”

The real question, though, is will the audience be as receptive to fuel cell-powered vehicles as they’ll be to the trip down movie memory lane.

Only the future will tell.

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