The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are set to become a global showcase for hydrogen fuel-cell cars.
Japan is already planning to use the games as an opportunity to expand its hydrogen infrastructure and put more fuel-cell vehicles on its roads.
And similar to earlier Olympics, the global event will focus huge media attention on the one carmaker that ponies up to be the Games' exclusive vehicle partner.
Toyota, the first Japanese automaker to sell a fuel-cell car to the general public, has embarked on the first phases of a high-profile Olympic sponsorship campaign.
Last Friday, Toyota signed on as a global sponsor of the 2020 Games with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
That large check gives it exclusive rights to advertise cars in conjunction with the Olympics over the next five years.
2016 Toyota Mirai
Toyota will pay a record $835 million to join the IOC's The Olympic Partner (TOP) program, about four times what other companies have paid for similar deals, reports the Associated Press.
Toyota's sponsorship of the Olympic Games takes effect immediately.
The company has been granted sponsorship rights in Japan through 2016, and globally beginning in 2017.
The deal runs through 2024, giving Toyota coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Games, as well as the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2022 and 2024 winter and summer games, respectively.
Toyota will be the exclusive automotive sponsor for these games, and will be able to use the Olympic rings in advertising.
While the deal covers the entirety of Toyota--including its Lexus and Scion brands--much of the focus for the Tokyo Games is expected to be on the Mirai.
2016 Toyota Mirai
The Tokyo city government plans to spend roughly $385 million on fuel-cell vehicle subsidies and installation of at least 35 hydrogen fueling stations between now and 2020.
The Japanese capital is also reportedly in negotiations with both Toyota and Honda to put 6,000 fuel-cell vehicles on its roads in time for the Olympics.
Once the games get underway, it's possible Mirai sedans will be used as official vehicles to shuttle dignitaries and athletes around.
That's what BMW did for the 2012 London Olympic Games, supplying 4,000 hybrids, diesels, and plug-in electric cars, as a smaller-scale local sponsor.
That company was the vehicle sponsor for the London Grames; for next year's 2016 Games in Rio, Nissan was designated the sponsor.
Accordingly, we could see a lot of Olympic-themed electric-car marketing before the Toyota effort kicks into high gear for four full years of hydrogen fuel-cell promotion.
[hat tip: Ben Helton, Brian Henderson]