Why is California building a refueling network for hydrogen cars nobody uses?August 26, 2023
The state could pay as much as $300 million for stations even though there are only 12,000 FCVs on the road.
California is essentially the only state in the country that has any hydrogen cars to speak of, but even in that state, there are only about 12,000 of them on the roads. Still, the state intends to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a refueling network for those vehicles.
Some are confused as to why the state would spend the money on a vehicle so few people are driving.
Lawmakers are currently debating just how much money should be spent on creating a support infrastructure for hydrogen cars. This is particularly true when one in five new cars sold in California is currently battery electric.
“California is showing the world what’s possible,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom, whose goal is to replace passenger vehicles powered by fossil fuels with those producing zero emissions.
That said, while battery electric vehicles are doing very well there, the state – and the world – are still only at the very beginning of the zero-emission transition. This change is the heart of a fierce battle in the Capital regarding how much of a role H2 fuel cells will be playing in tomorrow’s clean transportation.
State lawmakers are now debating how much to pour into a fueling station network for hydrogen cars.
A lobbying group for suppliers and supporters of H2 includes Shell, Chevron and Toyota. That group is aiming for a designated 30 percent of the Clean Transportation Program money, which would represent about $300 million spent over the next ten years.The Clean Transportation Program receives its funding from annual fees paid by drivers in the state, such as the $4 smog abatement fee and the $2 vehicle registration fee. Across the last ten years, the plan has been to spend 20 percent of that total on H2.
Will vehicle sales climb if stations are available?
The California Energy Commission has already spent $202 million on fueling stations for hydrogen-powered cars. That said, the demand for those vehicles remains low. There are currently only two H2-powered models available, the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo. Of those, only 1,767 have been sold in the state. There has already been a 20 percent decline in sales from last year to this year, though the summer did see an uptick.
In conclusion, the potential of hydrogen as a clean alternative to fossil fuels is undeniable, yet its adoption hinges heavily on the development of a robust infrastructure, particularly in terms of refueling stations. California has emerged as the epicenter of this transition, with plans to invest hundreds of millions into building a refueling network, despite the current limited number of Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) on the road.
This bold move has sparked debates among lawmakers and industry stakeholders. However, the state’s commitment to this cause, backed by major players like Shell, Chevron, and Toyota, underlines the belief that availability of stations could boost FCV sales and drive the shift towards zero-emission transportation. While the journey has just begun, California’s pioneering efforts are setting the stage for the rest of the world to follow in the pursuit of sustainable mobility.
Q: How many hydrogen vehicles are currently on the road in California?
A: As of now, there are roughly between 12,000 to 14,200 FCV’s on the road in California. (Source: LA Times, Automotive World)
Q: How many hydrogen fueling stations are there in California?
A: Currently, there are about 54 active hydrogen stations available in California, with additional 6 under construction and a total of 63 publicly accessible stations. (Source: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership, Politico)
Q: What is California’s goal regarding zero-emission vehicles?
A: California aims to have 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads by 2025. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles form a critical part of this goal. (Source: California Energy Commission)
Q: How did hydrogen fuel cell car sales perform in recent years?
A: The sales of hydrogen fuel cell cars have been relatively low, and even experienced a slump in 2022. In Q1 2023, the sales fell by 30%. (Source: Hydrogen Insight, Inside EVs)
Q: Who are some key players supporting the adoption of hydrogen cars in California?
A: Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai are the three brands that currently offer fuel cell cars in California. (Source: Automotive World)
Q: Is the availability of refueling stations expected to boost sales of hydrogen cars?
A: While it’s not guaranteed, the belief is that the development and expansion of a refueling infrastructure could encourage more drivers to consider hydrogen cars as a viable option for clean transportation. (Source: Dot LA)