Meet Toyota’s First Mirai Owner – And His Half-Filled Fuel Cell Vehicle

2 years ago by Jay Cole 131

Some 34 Toyota Mirais Were Delivered In California In The FCV's First Month Of Sales In October

Some 34 Toyota Mirais Were Delivered In California In The FCV’s First Month Of Sales In October

First 2016 Toyota Mirais Land In America

First 2016 Toyota Mirais Land In America

Toyota delivered its first fuel cell Mirai last month – actually they delivered 34, but the very first went to fuel cell engineer, who also has a resume working on the space program, 70 year old Glenn Rambach.

Mr. Rambach specifically remembers back when General Electric began development of fuel cell technology as a means to power extended space travel.  Today, he works on the development of fuel cell stations.

Somewhat ironically, and despite this being the flag-ship delivery, the first Mirai was delivered with only half a tank of hydrogen (good for ~150 miles).  We assume this is due to no public re-fueling station being particularly close to Roseville Toyota, and the temporary stations set up by Toyota are only rated at 5000 psi (350 bar), which can enable only 50% fills.

Still, you would think Toyota would go to at least a little effort to ensure they were not highlighting any shortcomings of infrastructure supporting the technology in its very first delivery in America.

(More information on these temporary stations can be found here)

Toyota Mirai Topless

Toyota Mirai Topless

As a result, it turns out the first thing on Glenn’s “to do list” was to travel some 20 miles to find one of only two working/compatible hydrogen stations capable of filling his new Mirai currently in operation in the California.

Lots Of Whizz-Bang

Lots Of Whizz-Bang Tech Inside The Toyota Mirai

Rambach tells PCWorld that currently 95 percent of hydrogen fuel is made from natural gas, which is combined with steam to produce methane, and that efforts to produce it using methane captured from cows or waste management facilities are still in the exploratory phase.

According to Rambach, hydrogen stations of the future will be different than the trucked-in method of today:

 “The big picture is for hydrogen stations to be self-contained—to make their own hydrogen onsite.” According to the magazine, a station Rambach is assisting in developing in Rohnert Park, California, is designed so “it’ll someday be able to use solar or geyser power to make hydrogen fuel.”

Estimated cost for each new standalone station is $1 to $3 million dollars, and there are currently 53 stations at some stage of constructure that should be completed by the end of next year, so the infrastructure will be getting a decent boost shortly.

Toyota is providing the first $15,000 of fuel free for the Mirai, but it is interesting to note that the cost of fuel for Mr. Rambach to top up the first ever Mirai was $13.59 per kilogram at the West Sacramento station.  With a 5 kg capacity tank, that works out to $67.95 a fill.

For lots more insight into the first delivery of the Mirai, Mr. Rambach, and the challenges surrounding the pioneering of fuel cell technology in the USA, check out the full PC World article here.

Hat tip to sven!


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131 responses to "Meet Toyota’s First Mirai Owner – And His Half-Filled Fuel Cell Vehicle"

  1. Djoni says:

    O.K., M. Rambach is an engineer with credential in space station energy solution.
    What in the heck this as something to do with down to hearth necessity?

    Answer, none.

    What does it have to do with economic way of transportation on hearth?

    Answer none again.

    Space living or travel don’t have the same limitation, needs and budget as everyday life on this planet.
    Conclusion Toyota is preparing the next space odyssey and that make sense.

    1. jerryd says:

      As for the engineer he should know better than buy such a costly to buy, fuel
      From Toyota’s own numbers it tales 1kw+/mile vs an EV is only 250wthrs/mile and $14/gal/kg fuel will make it impossible to sell later.
      And so little room and only 4 seats in a car as long as a Tesla with 7 seats and lots of trunk space vs little in the Mirai.
      And slow and noisy with all the pumps, compressors chassis pics show.
      And a lot of expensive maintaining all those systems needed to make the FC stack work.
      I bet they don’t even sell the few being made like Hyundai can’t sell the few they made.
      Only a fool would buy a foolcell car.

      1. sven says:

        Don’t be so quick to bet. From the PCWorld article: “The 700 Mirais allotted to California are already sold out, but Cunningham’s building a waiting list for the next shipment, which is expected by the summer of 2016.”

        1. Ramsey says:

          A lot are probably being purchased by government agencies and universities like the early electrics. The ones with a stake in the fuel cells.

        2. JimGord says:

          Hydrogen is DOA. Sales to fools will taper off soon enough

          1. finecadmin says:

            …but only after sven gets his, so all his time will be eaten up looking for a station.

      2. JimGord says:


    2. ATX Leaf says:

      Fuel cells powered space missions back in the Apollo days but the current missions on the ISS are powered by solar panels. So, which is the fuel of the future?

      1. Aatheus says:

        Fuel cells still make sense for some long-haul space platforms, but radio thermal generators (i.e. electricity from plutonium fissioning normally near coils) still makes more sense.

        1. ZLL says:

          Looks like Mr Rambach bought the Mirai out of emotional and sentimental reasons, good for him, but not for the regular car buyers.

        2. Ambulator says:

          We’re not producing enough plutonium 238 to do much. Thorium reactors could help.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Fuel cells do have their place. They have their place where cost does not matter, and where an ICEngine cannot be used because it consumes oxygen. For example, an unmanned underwater vehicle. There’s also nothing “wrong” with using a fuel cell in a test car.

        But “fool cell” cars will never expand past an extremely tiny niche. The reason for that has little to do with the FCEV itself, but everything to do with the hydrogen used to fuel it; a fuel which has too many problems to ever be practical.

        If you could magically change hydrogen to be a practical fuel, it would look a lot like gasoline. That’s no coincidence, and that’s why it will never be able to compete with gasoline. Even fully synthetic gasoline, made from renewable resources, would be more practical and more affordable than hydrogen fuel.

        1. Ambulator says:

          Fuel cell consume oxygen too. The primary reason they are useful in enclosed spaces is that they don’t produce carbon monoxide or other poisonous gasses. (Well, besides dihydrogen monoxide, and that’s not very poisonous.)

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            That’s true; it’s an issue I ignored for the sake of brevity.

            A fuel cell will need an oxygen supply when used in an environment where there’s no outside air. Yes, those UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles) which are powered by fuel cells do need an oxygen cylinder onboard to feed the fuel cell.

            But — correct me if I’m wrong — the fuel cell doesn’t need nearly as much oxygen as an ICEngine does, to provide the same amount of power. In fact, it only needs to be provided with enough oxygen to combine with hydrogen to produce its waste product: H2O. In other words, half as much oxygen as hydrogen.

            1. Ambulator says:

              Half as much by volume, nine times more by weight.

              In comparison to an ICE half to a third as much because of the greater efficiency of a fuel cell. That’s still a lot.

              1. Ambulator says:

                Sorry, only eight times as much oxygen as hydrogen by weight.

          2. Steven says:

            If you breathe the stuff, it can kill you.

            1. Ambulator says:

              Yeah, but you have to breathe a lot.

          3. Gregbrew says:

            But watch out…that dihydrogen monoxide is a very powerful solvent. At room temperature, excessive amounts have resulted in suffocation. At lower temperatures it is also used as a coolant for ethanol solutions.

        2. jerryd says:

          As batteries get lighter and hit $100/kwhr in the near future FCV’s don’t stand a chance as their $13/gal+ H2 price and 1kwhr/mile full cycle energy make their value nil.
          The only reason these are getting sold at all is ‘free’ fuel. Just what is their resale value going to be with $3/gal fuel cost?
          And the room it takes up barely has room for the passengers.
          Nor with all the moving, clogging parts maintaining them is going to be pricey.

          1. jt says:

            Hydrogen costs $2 to $3 per kg to produce. What you are paying for is the infrastructure cost to get it started up. You will have a start up cost with any new energy source. If you paid the true cost of gasoline and electricity produced from middle east petroleum including the $trillions spent on military the comparison would be hugely in hydrogen favor

  2. Mike616 says:

    “Rambach tells PCWorld that currently 95 percent of hydrogen fuel is made from natural gas”

    BINGO. Toyota “innovation” directed by the Japanese Fracking Industry, the CARBON Industry.

    Another Green-Fraud product.
    They’re getting almost as good as Ford with their Eco-Fraud engines.

    1. SparkEV says:

      It’s not the practically non-existent Japanese fracking industry. It’s global oil industry that Japan must please. Japan doesn’t have much (any?) native source of energy, and they import almost all their energy. If they piss off OPEC, they’ll be in serious trouble.

      An interesting note: one reason why Japan wanted to expand in WW2 was to secure more sources of energy after energy embargo by US and others for their hostile activities. It doesn’t excuse Japan for their subsequent behavior, but put in perspective, it’s certainly understandable why they felt threatened then, and probably now, too.

      1. sven says:

        Once again Mike 616,

        What Japanese fracking industry? Japan has like one fracked well and it’s a shale oil well, not a natural gas well.


        Actually, Japan is trying to by-pass the global oil industry altogether in sourcing its hydrogen, and wants to import only hydrogen that is carbon neutral or has a very low carbon footprint. Japan plans on importing liquid hydrogen from Australia, Quebec, and Saudi Arabia that does NOT use either natural gas or crude oil as a feedstock, and is either carbon neutral or has a very low carbon footprint.

        In Australia, Japan will be producing hydrogen from low-value lignite (brown coal), and sequestering the CO2 produced in tapped-out undersea gas wells. Japan will also build liquid-hydrogen tanker ships to transport the liquid hydrogen to Japan.

        Japan is looking to import liquid hydrogen produced in Quebec with excess hydro-electric power and electrolyzers.

        Japan is also looking to import liquid hydrogen produced in Saudi Arabia from solar PV farms in the dessert, where it once grew and exported crops on now abandoned giant rotary-irrigation farms. Saudi Arabia has “ambitious plans to push into solar power, recognizing that one day its fossil fuel exports will end. . . . Saudi Arabia will be exporting lots of electricity, rather than oil.”

        Saudi Arabia has said that when the world transitions away from fossil fuel energy, it wants to use its fortuitous geography/location to produce excess solar power to replace oil and gas export revenues. Aside from crude oil, Saudi Arabia’s only other major natural resources are its solar potential (constant sunshine relatively close the equator), and its vast, empty, and uninhabited spaces (desert).

        Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi was asked the following open-ended question that generated a revealing answer: “What do you think is interesting that is going on right now in the energy spectrum?” Al-Naimi responded: “Solar energy. It’s an opportunity for everybody.”

        Interesting times ahead.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          “In Australia, Japan will be producing hydrogen from low-value lignite (brown coal), and sequestering the CO2 produced in tapped-out undersea gas wells. Japan will also build liquid-hydrogen tanker ships to transport the liquid hydrogen to Japan.”

          And I’m gonna get my perpetual motion machine working any day now, too!

          “Clean coal” energy has one thing in common with renewable and affordable hydrogen fuel: Neither actually exists.

          1. Martin T. says:

            Exactly BEV or EREV is way so much better it’s not even funny.

            Let me correct the title of the post:

            Mirai – new slogan – For the Museum owner.
            who does not drive.

        2. AlphaEdge says:

          Excellent response, and good to hear!

          It would be excellent for countries like Saudi Arabia, to produce liquid hydrogen for power generation, as LNG is now becoming a very big business in doing.

          Liquid hydrogen could also very well be used for powering container ships, and other large transports.

          1. finecadmin says:

            Liquid hydrogen ships Bwahaha ha ha ha!!!

            Even LNG tankers are reverting to diesel engines running conventional fuel. Your knowledge of logistics is as short-sighted as your hydrogen fantasy.

        3. hill says:

          Japan’s primary source for hydrogen will be Australian coal. Big deal if they sequester the co2. What about the hundreds of millions of tons of coal ash that they will be responsible for? Have you ever seen how disastrous it is when one of their containment fields brakes? Welcome to the land of insanity – where we (CARB) gut much more efficient EV’s while we spend boatloads on a coal powered uber expensive highly complex auti that keeps the world tied to the non-renewable carbon based fuel industry. Wiw.

        4. SparkEV says:

          Sven, I read bits and pieces of what you wrote in other outlets before. While I’d like to believe that’s what’s going to happen, I fear reality will be different. It’s far too easy to dig a hole in the ground and pump out stuff that makes cash. Saudis didn’t even tap into difficult stuff much (yet?).

          For all involved (Japan, Saudi, etc), transition will take time, and when there’s easy money to NOT transition, I don’t know how well or quickly they’ll work out. Especially considering that Japan cannot afford to piss off OPEC at least for short term, probably much longer term, their course of action will be measured to say the least.

  3. Mike616 says:

    It’s a sad day when you find out EVEN in JAPAN, policy is created and implemented for just the biggest Monopoly in control of the government.

    1. BraveLilToaster says:

      Hehe. *Even* in Japan?

      More like especially in Japan. Go look up why Hitachi makes… um, everything.

  4. Three Electrics says:

    Just like there are many who don’t believe the US ever went to the moon, there are shortsighted posters who can’t see that the future of green energy is hydrogen. I can’t imagine how they would have reacted to Kennedy’s announcement of the moonshot; probably with conspiracy theories regarding the military industrial complex.

    1. Nelson says:

      “future of green energy is hydrogen”

      My Solar City solar panels are laughing.

      NPNS! SBF!

    2. jh says:

      Once upon a time I believed hydrogen would be the future. Tesla proved me wrong on that. The battery prices are dropping like I don’t know what and the capacity is increasing fast. So is the charger networks and it also has the added bonus of being recharged in my garage. It is also working well with the current crop of intelligent power networks. In short this is a dead end.

      1. Aaron says:

        I’m in the same boat. Hydrogen has great promise, but realistically it’s not the panacea it was promised to be.

        Personally, I like that, if I needed to, I can plug my LEAF into virtually any 120V outlet at at get some more “fuel”. It takes a long time, but it’s better than nothing. Nothing being the availability of hydrogen stations in Texas.

        1. heisenberght says:

          Please welcome me on that boat.

          From a theoretical standpoint hydrogen is really nice. And really clean.

          I also fell into that mind-trap some years ago. Same story with nuclear fusion btw… Very promising from a theoretical standpoint, but very frustrating when it comes to engineering (real life) problems. I only see centralized local hydrogen storage making sense due to the complexity. And I see the drawbacks of a strongly centralized infrastructure. So I don’t see a soon to come hydrogen reality as promised by big oil.

          As I stated in another post: Toyota engineers most likely know that hydrogen will not be a good option for the customers, and this is the reason why they make the car as ugly as possible, commercials as negative as possible and drawbacks as visible as possible in order to protect their fellow customers from buying one of these cars.

          This also explains this marketing “mistake” of delivering a car with a half full tank, it’s just another try to tell possible customers:

          “PLEASE DON’T BUY OUR CAR!!!”

          Toyota is not evil. IMO They really don’t want to make that car. They have to. And they are so sorry for that.

          1. Mister G says:

            If Toyota does not want to sell fuel cell car…Why can’t I lease/buy an all electric Toyota vehicle in Central Florida? Nothing is available in Florida. FYI I drive a leased 2012 Leaf.

            1. finecadmin says:

              Oh look, redirection and false equivalence all in one swoop.

      2. Speculawyer says:

        One cannot deny that hydrogen is nice in that you can do a 300 mile refueling in like 10 minutes. That said, there are so many other problems with it like fuel cell stacks are expensive, hydrogen is expensive, the hydrogen is not very green since it is generally just steam-reformed natural gas and the Co2 is vented into the atmosphere, and there is almost zero refueling infrastructure. Those are huge things to address.

        Of course battery EVs are not so great in that big batteries are very expensive and they can’t refuel as fast. However, the batteries do seem to be getting progressively cheaper, getting around 200 miles in an hour is a decent charge rate that is good enough for my rare long trips, I can refuel at home, and most importantly I can generate my own ‘fuel’ with PV panels.

        So even if things get better for FCVs, I’m fine with BEVs because I like charging at home and generating my own fuel.

        1. Mister G says:

          The fact that you can generate your own fuel to power your BEV is the biggest reason the fossil fuel industry is against BEV transition.

    3. mustang_sallad says:

      How much will the cost of hydrogen be reduced and how is it going to be reduced? Toyota says a breakthrough in fuel cell manufacturing is required for them to up vehicle production beyond 3000/year, but at least they’re talking about someday making that happen. Is there anybody talking about a target price point for hydrogen that will make average consumers see an advantage to driving a fuel cell car? On-site solar would require a HUGE array to fuel up even a modest number of vehicles.

    4. ffbj says:

      I only find this post lacking in one thing only: any semblance to logical thought.

      1. Rick Danger says:


          1. Rick Danger says:

            Twin brother 🙂

            We spell our name…. Danger!

    5. John Hollenberg says:

      Of course the US went to the moon, but that doesn’t mean the average citizen will be vacationing there. Same with fuel cells.

    6. Djoni says:

      US went to the moon?
      I didn’t know that.
      I thought it was just a couple of guy in a thin can that went there.
      See the difference between one specific application and a one size fit all for everybody there?
      Also funny that you point out the military effort into this, because that’s most of what is about in space programs.

    7. kdawg says:

      You are trying to compare moon-landing-deniers to people who don’t like fuel cells?

      Why not just skip right to Godwin’s Law and use Nazis.

    8. R.S says:

      I would have said, that it would be useless to put a person on the moon. Well, it was a nice thing, but we got nothing out of it. So yea Hydrogen is like the moon landing, everyone wants to be there, but as soon as you are, there is nothing interesting to be found.

      1. Rick says:

        If you use solar panels, then yes, you did get something out of the space program.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          There were a great many spinoff benefits from the space race. Biotech sensors which have saved thousands or millions of lives, digital computers, communication satellites… heck, even the lowly pocket calculator. The list of benefits is very long, so arguably that’s the best money the American taxpayer ever spent.

          But as three people here already pointed out, we got no practical benefit from the moon landings themselves. They did inspire a lot of people to become scientists and engineers, and did give the USA bragging rights.

          And yes, I think comparing the moon landings to fuel cell cars is a perfect analogy. Yeah, we managed to do it, at great cost, energy, and time. But that doesn’t mean it makes any sense to expand that to running an earth-to-the-moon passenger service to ferry people there and back on a weekly basis!

      2. Rick says:

        If your electric car has lithium-ion batteries, then yes, you did get something out of the space program.

      3. sven says:

        If your hydrogen car has fuel cells, then yes, you did get something out of the space program. 😉

        1. finecadmin says:

          Yes, a multibillion pork scheme.

          Keep flailing, pal. Keep flailing.

    9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Three Electrics said:

      “…there are shortsighted posters who can’t see that the future of green energy is hydrogen.”

      Well, actually in my case, that is factually correct. I do need glasses to see clearly at a distance. 😉

      I am also scientifically literate, but clearly you’re not, since despite repeated explanations you cannot understand why it is impossible to change the physical characteristics of hydrogen enough to allow it to be generated, stored, moved, and dispensed cheaply enough to be a practical fuel.

    10. BraveLilToaster says:

      Yeah, I too once believed the bullshit surrounding fuel cell cars.

      Zero emissions! Fast refills! Super efficient! No drawbacks! Perfect in every way!

      Unfortunately, nearly all of those claims are false.

      First off is the expense.

      The Mirai is the first fuel cell car that’s actually come with a price tag. There’ve been a few Hondas delivered in the US, but they were lease-only, and more importantly, the lease was also super-expensive. The Mirai can be bought for $58,325. But let’s be super generous and say that you live in California and you qualify for the full $13k tax rebate, making it “only” $45,325.

      And then we’ll compare that cost to that of a Corolla. Because you know the media will (at least, I think they will… I have yet to see an article in the mainstream media slagging fuel cell cars, which is starting to make me wonder). At $17,230. The Mirai is 2.6 times as expensive.

      But don’t worry! It’s super efficient, so you’ll be able to make up for it in low running costs, right?

      Let’s see, a fill-up for a Mirai is $67, and can get you 312 miles. For an average of 15,000 miles per year, that means the math is:

      15000 / 312 * $67 = $3221

      Wow. That’s a bit more than the EPA’s estimate of $1100 a year to gas up a Corolla. So apparently you’re not going to save money on fuel to make up for the extra cost of the car (like EVs can).

      But! Zero emissions!

      Sure, zero tailpipe emissions. But nearly all hydrogen comes from natural gas. You might as well just burn it in a CNG-powered Honda Civic ( It costs way less too. ($27k says that website)

      But! You *can* make it from water!

      Sure, but that costs about 4x as much. So back to that thing about the expensive fuel… it’s not getting any better.

      But! Fast refills! You can’t do *that* in an EV!

      I’ve heard it said that a hydrogen filling station costs about $2 million. ChaDeMo chargers cost around $100k, installed. Just finding hydrogen filling stations is going to be a very big problem for a very long time to come. Just look at how quickly the rollout for ChaDeMo has been going, in spite of their much lower cost. Already, I can drive my Leaf for hundreds of miles per day (just this summer I took a trip that was over 350 miles), even without quick charging. But if you can’t find *any* H2 stations outside your city, you’re limited to about 150 miles per day. Oh, and you’ll need them in your city too, or you won’t even be able to get started. Currently, I have 0. So does Seattle.

      But! Super efficient!

      No, sorry. If the running costs didn’t already speak volumes, it just gets worse from there. Check out this chart:

      Maybe someday when electricity is super cheap and abundant it might make up for the 300% (!) difference in efficiency, but that day certainly isn’t here now. So in exchange for fast refill times and the warm fuzzies you get from “helping” the environment by burning natural gas, you get to pay way more and help the environment way less.

      Which really makes you wonder why the heck you’re doing this in the first place?

  5. Lou says:

    The FCV topic always draws a healthy and skeptical response. What little I know about them is based on articles on this site, for the most part. It does not seem to be even comparable, let alone better than, BEV technology. However, I cannot argue that doing the research is worthless. Not everyone can plug in, and if the environment gets bad enough(it already is)that we just should not drive ICE vehicles, maybe FC will be _one_ option. I prefer BEV, clearly better, in my opinion, certainly right now. Plenty of ideas seemed outright silly and were later deemed worthy. Whether or not FCV’s will eventually be proven worthy or not I don’t know, but it’s hard for me to dismiss them out of hand so easily either.


    1. Djoni says:

      The skepticism isn’t only on this site.
      Sure you can surf the web all over and you will find many place that promote hydrogen economy.
      Of course most is tight up with direct commercial interest, but I can put that aside.

      They all promise the green and possible clean future and that’s all good.
      The problem is you can’t find one site that does the economic feasibility of it.
      And that won’t change for I don’t know when we have to wait.
      The time keep on ticking and BEV sales ramp on and on.
      Hydrogen not so much, and it will get worse because nobody want to spend too much for lesser life.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “…if the environment gets bad enough(it already is)that we just should not drive ICE vehicles, maybe FC will be _one_ option.”

      Only if your objective is to burn a fuel that causes even more pollution and CO2 to be emitted than burning gasoline, if you consider the entire well-to-wheel process.

  6. Hydrogen cars will be competitive with electrics when they reach parity on:

    1) vehicle cost (fuel cell, storage tank)
    2) fuel cost (dispensed, to consumer. Currently $13-16 kg)
    3) fuel distribution infrastructure cost
    4) fuel station cost (including permitting)

    It might be a while.

    With 200-300 mile electrics becoming available at mainstream prices in 2017-2018, the sole remaining competitive advantage for hydrogen is refueling time. Considering how infrequently a five minute refill is needed after a three hour drive, it’s a very small advantage (the requirement would be another three hours travel after the first leg). The fuel price premium for fast fills would be, at current H2 prices, about $27,840 over 12 years.

    Hydrogen fuel over 12 years, 12k mi yr: $33,600
    Electric fuel over 12 years, 12k miles yr: $5,760

    $2,320 per year. Is that enough savings to wait 30 minutes to refuel the few times a year you go on 600+ mile (one way) road trips?

    1. SparkEV says:

      You shouldn’t use today’s H price for 12 years down the line. How much cheaper they’ll get is unknown, but factor or 2 or 3 is certainly within reach. Then they’ll be similar cost to run as ICE cars with all the disadvantage of ICE cars.

      Why H? Why, indeed.

      1. > You shouldn’t use today’s H price for 12 years down the line.

        No one knows what hydrogen will cost in 12 years, compressed to 10k PSI and dispensed to the consumer.

        Whenever someone claims there will be a significant price reduction, and I ask for a scenario that gets us there, the numbers get very fuzzy, if they are presented at all.

        In all cases, sharply reduced numbers depend on technical breakthroughs we can not predict with certainty, and scale we can also not be certain of reaching.

        To be fair, I have compared using today’s costs for electricity, which could be much cheaper if an EV driver uses solar.

        1. SparkEV says:

          I tend to use best case for the side I’m arguing against, and worst case for the side I’m arguing for. That way, if the result come out in favor of my side, there’s no excuse.

          1. finecadmin says:

            Pwaha ha ha ha!!!

            Just like you did with turbos, the Hong Kong government, etc.

        2. sven says:


          Likewise, using today’s cost of electricity for the future cost of electricity over the next twelve years is also fraught with uncertainty. For instance, will net zero electric rate plans and off-peak discounts on electric rates still be in effect or at the same levels as it is now? Will the utility still be forced to pay retail prices for home-solar generated electricity, or will it be allowed to pay wholesale prices? As EV adoption and home solar PV adoption dramatically increases over the next 12 years, you may no longer be allowed to offset off peak electric usage with solar electricity generated during peak rate periods. This is already the case in NYC, where solar generated during peak rate periods can only offset electricity use during peak periods. In such a case, EV owners charging at night would have to pay the prevailing nighttime electric rate. With vastly more EVs charging at night, will the demand curve flatten, eliminating the reduced nighttime/off-peak electric rate?

          Also, if natural gas and coal powered power plants are retired before the end of their useful life, and before they are fully amortized, the electric utility customers will still be paying for that prematurely retired power plants with higher electric rates and fees.

          The costs of vast battery backup systems needed to account for the variability in renewable electricity generation need to be born by utility customers. These battery systems have shorter useful lives (10 to 15 years?) than power plants, and thus, must be completely replaced more frequently with the cost once again born by utility customers.

          I’m just saying, it’s not a straight forward calculation that electric costs will stay the same or get lower as the percentage of renewables increases towards the 100% goal.

          Personally, I think that Canada will build vast wind farms and transmission lines in it’s sparsely populated northern areas/tundra, and export most of the electricity to the U.S.. This is similar to what Quebec did with hydro-power and it’s sparsely populated northern areas, exporting excess electricity to NYC and the Northeast, U.S.. To increase its renewable electric output, Quebec could even build offshore wind farms in the areas it flooded to create reservoirs for hydroelectric power. Renewable energy from Canada will be needed for the U.S. to achieve anywhere close to a 100% renewable grid.

          1. SparkEV says:

            You can’t know the absolute cost, but you can roughly guess relative cost. For example, if electricity cost more than running generators, people will run them instead of buying from utility. You could add some “pain cost” in running generators, but that would be the bottom with respect to nat gas / gasoline prices.

            Then the relative cost for BEV compared to gas cars would be EV efficiency + gas generator efficiency, which will make EV fuel cost at worst comparable to gas cars.

            Of course, this assumes there’s no government intervention banning generators or other means (Mr. Fusion?) if electric prices increase unreasonably.

            I started on this topic for my blog long time ago, keep getting distracted…

            1. Bill Howland says:

              Hydrogen in the states hit all time production records, so that means it is being efficiently produced, and a few thousand H2 cars certainly isn’t going to do anything to the pricing.

              The unbelievably high cost of H2 retail dispensories certainly can only rise the retail cost.

              As I say, in the states I only see this being practicable in parts of California and NYC and connecticut (where all the rich people live) and the electric rates are confiscatory. In the majority of the states, people would rebel at such ridiculous pricing (as the Buffalo NY area in fact DID do in early 2014 when National Grid tried to pull their price gouging stunt).

              Thats why I hope someone can come up with some detailed information as to what exactly is in these dispensories and what exactly makes them so expensive.

              To me, they are pricing themselves out of the market in most areas. It wouldn’t fly around here.

              1. SparkEV says:

                One of the reasons why CA electricity is outrageous ($0.19/kWh base rate!) is that we use 45% from nat gas and only 10% from coal. I think in much of East, coal is more with places like VA much more than majority from coal. Coal would be cheaper without regard to clean up, but CA makes them clean it up, so it gets more expensive.

                And there are corruptions in many utilities. For example, Los Angeles DWP has millions of dollars in slush fund for connected members. As a percentage, it’s small, but one has to wonder how much more of this is going on.

                Another is they spend millions on retro fitting nuke and hike the rate. Then they shut it down only couple of years later and hike the rate even more. It seems legit, but one has to wonder if some kickback was involved.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        SparkEV said:

        “You shouldn’t use today’s H price for 12 years down the line. How much cheaper they’ll get is unknown, but factor or 2 or 3 is certainly within reach.”

        Please explain to us how you are magically going to change hydrogen so it is:

        1. Liquid at room temperature and normal air pressure

        2. Has high energy density by volume

        3. Capable of being cheaply transported, for example by using existing gas pipelines

        4. Does not embrittle metals in tanks and pipes used to store and carry it

        Unless you can do most or all of that, then it is physically impossible to reduce the price by 2 or 3 times.

        Why is this so difficult for some people to understand?

        1. SparkEV says:

          Just because you don’t know how to do it doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Hint: surface area and volume are not linearly related.

          Cursory look through the numbers, factor of 2 is certainly possible, maybe 2.5 with lots of pain (ie, ginormous volume). But that’ll still be more expensive than gasoline.

          Best bet for H? Pray for a miracle.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:


            “Just because you don’t know how to do it doesn’t mean it’s not possible.”

            If both a thermodynamic analysis and an EROI (Energy Return On Investment) analysis indicate it’s not possible — in fact, show that you’d have to change the laws of physics to make it possible — then it’s not possible.

            That’s a fact, not mere opinion, SparkEV.

            1. SparkEV says:

              To assume price can’t go down with mass scale is flawed opinion. It’s like those gas bigots who used to say battery price can’t go down to make EV practical.

              Nat gas reformation to make H is about 65% to 75% efficient (some claim 90%; I don’t believe them). Assuming transport, etc are 100% efficient, H price could be 70% more than nat gas price. Currently, it’s about 600% higher. ($2/gal nat gas vs $12/gal for H) There’s lots of room to improve.

              To bring it down by factor of 2 (to 300% higher than nat gas) is low hanging fruit using economy of scale (ie, surface area vs volume). Then it becomes tougher, though not impossible to about factor of 3 (200% higher than nat gas). At that point, it will compete with gasoline.

              To get even cheaper becomes really tough that will need revolution in technology. It could happen with, what, prayer?

              I’m working on a blog post to put some of my findings with numbers. All the articles I read are nebulous, probably due to gearing for general audience.

              1. SparkEV says:

                PuPu, I think I know where our disconnect is. The articles base their numbers of outrageous projections for H from H promo sites. They claim $1/gal for H instead of $12/gal. In such case, of course, the numbers won’t work.

                What I’m doing is taking today’s real market pricing to determine where we can go. There’s lots of room to improve, but not nearly enough.

                1. finecadmin says:

                  No_there_isn’t. The physics of an extremely low-density substance, with extreme pumping losses, are even worse than the physics of onsite generation, with extreme thermodynamic losses. i. e., no widespread logistics, just as Gemini and Apollo limited their logistics chain to a few counties in Florida.

                  1. SparkEV says:

                    Extreme pumping loss? Extreme this and that? Go back 6 years, and people were saying the same thing about batteries for EV applications. H will not stay at $12/kg forever.

                    Fact is, much of the “extreme loss” is only about 10% which can be reused in large hydrogen factory. For example, pumping loss is heat, which can be used to heat water/steam for more reformation. Hot output can go through heat exchangers to heat up input. To think that none of these can happen with economy of scale is like saying batteries for EV will never come down in price.

                    What isn’t possible is with respect to natural gas price, just like the bottom of Lithium battery price is raw Lithium price. H will always be at least about 2 times more than nat gas unless they find some miracle. Then they’ll compete against gasoline (barely), but far from costing as low as BEV.

    2. kdawg says:

      Still won’t be competitive to me unless they can figure out a cost-effective way I can fuel-up at home.

      1. finecadmin says:

        Which is never, because any local generation scheme will waste more energy than an electric car will use.

  7. SparkEV says:

    At $68 for 300 miles, that’s equivalent to 13.2 MPG gas car when gas is $3/gal. They have to bring H price down by factor of 3 before they’re competitive to gas cars (40 MPG). They have to bring H price down by factor of 5 or 6 before they become competitive to BEV (70 MPG). I guess it’s not out of the question if some mircle happens!

    Pray, Toyota. Pray real hard…

    1. SparkEV says:

      Let me clarify 70 MPG for BEV. That includes NRG membeship fee that allow me to use DCFC, which is about 1/4 to 1/3 of total price. In absense of home charging that many FCEV proponents claim, it’s only fair to compare public DCFC cost to FCEV cost.

      Without membership fee (ie, always charge at home), I pay about that of 85 MPG gas car in electricity when gas is $3/gal due to lower L2 efficiency than DCFC. If I have solar and excess production (I don’t have solar), it’ll be even cheaper.

      1. Exactly. $2k worth of extra solar panels gives you 30 years of EV fuel. The cost is $5.55 per month not including finance charges, which are pretty insignificant for that extra $2k in solar panels. Even if net metering were eliminated, add a Powerwall and the cost only goes up to about $15-20 per month.

        1. SparkEV says:

          FCEV would argue that not all can get solar, especially if they live in high rise apartments in cities. That’s why I compared public DCFC cost to FCEV.

          1. You have a fair point, but now that people can buy “community solar” nearly everyone can enjoy at least some of those benefits. I have no doubt that the trend will only continue. Very little tech is needed, mostly accounting and policy.

            1. SparkEV says:

              I don’t know anything about community solar. Are they much cheaper than DCFC? DCFC for now is about 20% higher than base electric rate due to membership fee. Without the fee, DCFC would be about the same as lowest electric rate from utility.

              1. Community Solar is a way for utility customers to add solar to the grid and receive the benefits that come with owning solar panels, without installing it on their own roof or property.



          2. finecadmin says:

            No, you compared DCFC price (retail) to hydrogen cost (wholesale). So what was that about making the worst argument for the side you’re for, and the best argument for the side you’re against? Oh, right, another SparkEV BS job.

            1. SparkEV says:

              If you say I’m comparing retail DCFC to wholesale H, then I am comparing worst case for the side I’m arguing for (retail DCFC) to best case of other side (wholesale H). DCFC still comes out ahead, so there’s no excuse that BEV is better than H. So you think this is BS?

              Then you want to give best case for the side you’re arguing for? Then the cost for EV is 0 (excess solar) while H is billions of dollars per kg (make your own H factory is worst case), so BEV is better? Only you would think this isn’t total BS argument.

    2. ffbj says:

      +1. It would take a miracle.

  8. drpawansharma says:

    So, the 53 hydrogen fueling stations currently under construction in California will cost 100 millions $ at the minimum. Wonder how many superchargers could be built for the same price?

    1. heisenberght says:

      I think this is a rhetorical, but I’ll answer it anyways 😉

      At $285K per location that will be 350 locations.

      At $50K per spot that will be 2000 spots.

      Not including possible economy of scale 😉

  9. HVACman says:

    from the article – “Rambach tells PCWorld that currently 95 percent of hydrogen fuel is made from natural gas, which is combined with steam to produce methane”

    This is a direct quote from the PC World article, but is all backwards, technically. Rambach, as an experienced fuel cell engineer, would never make such a fundamental error. I suspect the PC World editor screwed up what Rambach actually said. He probably said, “95% of hydrogen fuel is made from natural gas (consisting mostly of methane), which is combined with steam to strip away the carbon and produce hydrogen.”

  10. jelloslug says:

    I love how he romantically envisions a world some undisclosed time in the future where you can refuel your car at home with your very own solar panels.

    1. Anon says:

      People forget: Hydrogen isn’t a form of energy in and of itself– it’s an energy carrier. It must be CREATED out of something else. And that takes materials like natural gas / methane, heated steam, and ELECTRICITY to run the equipment. It also takes even more electricity to compress it into a vehicle storage tank, at 10,000 psi.

      Factor in the energy losses from material conversion, the corrosive, embrittling and leaky nature of Hydrogen itself, the high cost and unreliability of hydrogen stations, the high retail cost to the consumer for FCEVs and fuel, Big Oil’s interest in pushing this technology, etc., etc.. I just don’t see how anyone rational, would think Hydrogen will have much of a practical future powering passenger vehicles.

      Hydrogen just does not make environmental or financial sense when you look at where and who it comes from, and all the engineering problems of using it to power a drivetrain. Just use a BEV, and skip all that hassle. Problem solved.

      1. pk says:

        This !

        Someone needs to do a nice side by side infographic of BEV vs FCEV.

      2. Ambulator says:

        “People forget: Hydrogen isn’t a form of energy in and of itself– it’s an energy carrier.”

        That’s not quite true. Hydrogen does occur in its native form, and if it were harvested and used it would be a source of energy. I’m not aware of that happening at the moment.

        1. Anon says:

          Hydrogen readily combines with other elements it comes in contact with. In fact, hydrogen often causes manufacturing problems with metal alloys. So finding it on Earth in large quantities and in a pure form to harness– is highly unlikely. Unless you’re in a nuclear reactor that’s melting down, and creating gas from what remains of the coolant…

          For example: Fukushima is feared to still be generating a constant stream of highly explosive hydrogen gas underground. Although this is not a desirable turn of events, any captured hydrogen could theoretically be used to run a FCV. 😉 At least it wouldn’t be made from stripped hydrocarbons from coal / shale / tar sands / fracked natural gas / methane, etc.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            “Fukushima is feared to still be generating a constant stream of highly explosive hydrogen gas underground. Although this is not a desirable turn of events, any captured hydrogen could theoretically be used to run a FCV. 😉 ”

            😉 indeed.

            But seriously, all you need for disassociation of steam into hydrogen and oxygen is to heat it up to a high enough temperature, then have some way of separating out the hydrogen.

            It’s not at all impossible, but just as with any other method of generating hydrogen, it’s not cost-effective because of the energy required, especially when you can use that same energy about 3-4 times more efficiently to generate electricity to charge batteries.

    2. sven says:


      Maybe the future is closer than you think. Perhaps, he was envisioning something like these hydrogen solar panels.

      1. jelloslug says:

        Another “might” and “could” technology that will be available “in the future”. Even if those panels do come out you still have to collect and compress the hydrogen.

    3. Benjamin says:

      jelloslug writes: “I love how he romantically envisions a world some undisclosed time in the future where you can refuel your car at home with your very own solar panels”

      You don’t know that Panasonic has invented solar panels that MAKE HYDROGEN, and you also don’t know that Honda has been working on a home solar hydrogen fueling station for the last few years, and will put it on the market next year when they roll out their H2 car. But you’re not the only one.

      1. jelloslug says:

        Honda has an experimental station that runs off of natural gas. The last one that Honda made in 2007 was nothing more than an engineering test. There is no mention of price, how fast it makes hydrogen, or if it can even fill a hydrogen tank to full pressure. These new techs are great experiments but they are decades away from being commercial products.

        1. sven says:

          Decades away or maybe just five years away? In the link above, Panasonic said this about its hydrogen solar cells: “Commercial application will be 2020 at the earliest.”

          Panasonic has already sold and installed over 50,000 Ene-Farm home fuel cells to homeowners and businesses in Japan. The Ene-Farm units convert utility provided natural gas into hydrogen, which then runs through a fuel cell to provide electricity, hot water, and auxiliary heating. The Ene-Farm achieves an overall efficiency of 95% (Low Heating Value).

      2. SparkEV says:

        Anybody can make hydrogen. To make it in quantity and usable pressure is extremely dangerous. You can do the math to figure out how much energy is in just 10,000 PSI at 5kg of air. Now it’s not just air, but one of the most explosive gases in the world. I doubt there will be home hydrogen fillers; one false move, and it could take out half the city block! And you know those teenagers will play with them at home.

        One can talk about slow H generators. Then it could take weeks or months to fill one 5kg FCEV, not to mention energy needed to compress it to 10,000 PSI. That makes no sense, either.

      3. Anon says:

        Do you REALLY want a 10,000 PSI Hydrogen Refueling Station AT YOUR HOUSE????

        What could possibly go wrong, right?

      4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Benjamin said:

        “You don’t know that Panasonic has invented solar panels that MAKE HYDROGEN, and you also don’t know that Honda has been working on a home solar hydrogen fueling station for the last few years, and will put it on the market next year when they roll out their H2 car.”

        And what you don’t know is that even if you could magically generate hydrogen for free, it would still be too expensive for mass use, because of the difficulties and expenses of compressing, storing, transporting, storing again, and dispensing it.

        1. Martin T says:

          So true, not only doing it safely.

          Us intelligent humans (hairless stupid monkeys) can even do gas install of appliances or usage without gas leaks and blowing up whole apartment blocks.

          Generating your own H2 another dangerous pipe dream on crack that is not going to end well.

          Lot of people the is form seem to believe the equivalent of perpetual motion and many die trying to make it happen.
          H2 Fuel total energy usage is just an inefficient absolute joke.
          IF any sane person logical person does the maths, but yeah it keeps the governments and oil companies happy. Sort of like oil with out the middle east, but as BS.

          Go EV cars on Batteries – just go – you guy’s are already the efficient future with rapid improvements now and just round the corner. Waiting for a cheap H2 dispenser in your neighborhood … Good luck with that project (sucker).

  11. Jonathan says:

    I’m sure that one day his Mirai will be sitting in his garage next to his Beta tape player, 8 track machine, Laserdisc player, and Sony Mini-Disc walkman.

    1. Anon says:

      But those things don’t leak, corrode, become brittle, explode when they get old…

  12. Ash09 says:

    I think you guys have a typo in the title, one too many “first” words there.

    Regarding the article, this isn’t exactly helping Toyota’s case of making hydrogen fuel cell vehicles the future of transportation if they can’t even give the owners a full tank on delivery.

  13. bro1999 says:

    Fool Cell Vehicles = the car of tomorrow that will never become the car of today

  14. Get Real says:

    Coyota/Fool Cell Fools say:

    “We are experiencing technical difficulties, please stand by, and stand by, and stand by, and stand by…..etc!”

  15. heisenberght says:

    Customer: “What’s that strange bomb-like thing under the back seat? I heard it is filled with hydrogen at extreme pressure?”

    Salesman: “No, this is our innovative self-destruction mechanism, in the case of an accident you can be sure to not be injured. You’ll be dead in a fraction of a second, no pain. Short and painless. That’s nice isn’t it?”

  16. Roy LeMeur says:

    Highly explosive hydrogen at 10,000 psi. Road-going vehicle. First collision with a system breach and ensuing spectacular explosion and fool cells are done.

    1. Get Real says:

      The really scary part is if the hydrogen is burning, the flame is invisible.

  17. GasKilla says:

    If only there was a way to completely fill your car with fuel without driving 20 miles to find a station. Perhaps one day someone will invent a way to put a fueling station on the roof of your garage and then you could fill up from the comfort of your own home.

  18. Jonathan says:

    So this is a car that gets about the same range as a 30kwh Nissan leaf, that costs less, and can be charged nearly anywhere in any urban areas, and Oh yeah, at your house too.

  19. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Quoting the article:

    “Mr. Rambach… works on the development of fuel cell stations.”

    I think this will be typical of “fool cell” car buyers. That is, they’re not buying the FCEV because they think it’s a practical car, but because they are somehow invested in the technology. This is a very small niche market, and it will remain so.

    “…efforts to produce [hydrogen fuel] using methane captured from cows or waste management facilities are still in the exploratory phase.”

    Yeah, and my project to build a perpetual motion machine is still in the exploratory phase, too. 😀

    As they’ve been saying for decades: “Hydrogen is the fuel of the future… and always will be.” 😉

    1. Roy_H says:


      And only 1 pro-hydrogen post so far…

  20. Someone out there says:

    34 cars? I thought they were “flying off the shelves”!

    1. jelloslug says:

      Well, they are very small shelves.

    2. James says:

      It’s a very small shelf.

    3. sven says:

      From the PCWorld article: “The 700 Mirais allotted to California are already sold out, but Cunningham’s building a waiting list for the next shipment, which is expected by the summer of 2016.”

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Sven – could you come up with a link or a place that has more detail into exactly what will comprise a ‘neighborhood filling station’??

        I’ve seen ads by General Electric where the equipment rooms take up 70% of the service station real estate, which just can’t be practical..

        Unless you know first hard yourself. Is it going to offload from a liquid tanker trunk, then go to a vaporizer, then a pressurizer, or is the vaporizer going to ‘pressurize itself as it warms, thereby eliminating the need for a compressor?

        Or do they plan on making it on site? (I’d think that would be somewhat less efficient in most cases than simply trucking it in from a chemical plant.

        Although I’m seriously skeptical about the practicality of H2 in North America; in certain locales like NYC and parts of California it might make sense, and of course Japan, but I am interested in the particulars. So if you know them off hand, or you know where info is available, please elaborate! Thanks.

  21. Phr3d says:

    if you won’t (refuse to) read, you cannot (have already refused to) learn.

    but keep repeating, it obviously pleases some of you..

    1. Phr3d says:

      put another way, hopefully easy to appreciate –
      if you buy a turbine, and it is producing max power over night, due to temperature differences raising the wind velocity, you Do realize that No One wants your electricity at that time..
      hmmmmmm.. whatEver shall we do with the Wasted electricity?

      1. JakeY says:

        You ask people to read when you seem to not have read the article you linked. The article is talking about an ideal 100% efficient situation (which is impossible) and how close we can get to that.

        In other words, it is talking about “wasted energy” not “wasted electricity”. energy does not equal electricity.

        1. Phr3d says:

          That was why I followed with ‘put another way’, but I’ll try to make any links I post specific to electricity and not presume that a more generic article serves to highlight the present stunning waste that is untapped.

  22. Steven says:

    “Today, he works on the development of fuel cell stations.”

    So, he probably knows where to get a reliable source of hydrogen.

    1. Roy_H says:

      And that explains why he bought the Mirai in the first place, to promote building more stations so he can make more money. I wonder how much profit he makes off one $2M station?

  23. Markh21518 says:

    Why can’t people that advocate ‘fool Sells’do the math. They want the public for.filling stations, why? The oil companies will be selling the fuel. So I saw an article In Europe a H2 station came online for 10 cars, the cost was over $1.5 million. Why didn’t they just buy all the owners a Tesla they could have bought them P85D’s and it would have been cheaper. It takes more energy to make H2 than to charge a car. Buy a Volt and you can have it all. 95+% of the time I’m all electric, I’ve got solar power, so I’m not.burning anything, and I can go to Wymoning! Do.That in a fuel.cell car hint there aren’t many plugs and yes no.H2. Do the math the numbers don’t work!