To Date, ~2,000 FCEVs On Roads California, Just 30 Fueling Stations

4 weeks ago by Mark Kane 105

30th Retail Hydrogen Station Opens in Torrance, California

California has survived long enough to see the milestone of having its 30th retail hydrogen fuel station for FCVs completed.  #30 was installed at the Shell station in Torrance, California and is available 24/7.

Hyundai Motor’s Next-Gen Fuel Cell SUV

It’s also the only hydrogen station in the U.S., which is supplied hydrogen through a pipeline.

The bad news is that California has added just 2 new hydrogen stations since out last report (up from 28), over the past two+ months. That’s one new station every month or so. So, using our elite math skills, we estimate by the end of 2017, about 34 stations will be available.

The total number of hydrogen cars that could use those stations is still is below 2,500 in the state.

The latest ARB report (released in August), pegs FCV registrations at ~1,600 through April, and we can add up to a further 630 new registrations through the end of July – mostly Toyota Mirais (373) and Honda Claritys (250); assuming that the bulk stayed in California, total FCEV registrations are now around ~2,100 units.

To give some context to the recent growth spurt, just 311 were registered through April 2016.

The latest FCV sales (lease) forecast from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) is that the total number of FCVs will reach some 13,400 by 2020 and up to 37,400 by 2023.  The 2020 goal seems reasonable to us given the growth we have seen this year.

Although, if we conservatively peg California for accounting for half the U.S. sales of passenger fuel cell vehicles, there will be no more than 75,000 sales nationwide within six years. So, not so good from a wider business/market viability perspective.

Current and Projected On-Road FCEV Populations and Comparison to Previously Collected and Reported Projections

source: August 2017 2017 Annual Evaluation of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment and Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development via Green Car Congress

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105 responses to "To Date, ~2,000 FCEVs On Roads California, Just 30 Fueling Stations"

  1. SparkEV says:

    Why couldn’t all these Maven/Lyft Bolt drivers use FCEV for ridesharing? Then we wouldn’t be so clogged in San Diego.

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      Because Maven/Lyft are owned by GM, not Toyota.

      Since you know the answer, why do you post it just so you can use it as a channel to spread your whining around?

      Are you becoming the new troll?

      1. SparkEV says:

        GM doesn’t own anybody, and certainly not Bolt drivers. They are free to drive for Lyft even if they have Mirai or Clarity.

        These days, it seems you’re having constant PMS with your snarky remarks. At least I have a reason to bitch about free chargers and slow charging Bolt that I see at every DCFC, what is your reason for being bitchy?

        1. Paul Stoller says:

          Many of us are getting tired of your repetitive posts.

          1. SparkEV says:

            If I wait for Bolt as much as I wait for SparkEV+eGolf (combined sales about that of Bolt), I’ll stop bitching. I’ll even reduce Bolt bitching if I wait for Bolt as much as Leaf / i3.

            But when I see Bolt every time I’m at DCFC (wanting charge or just looking), I will continue to bitch (report) what I see. If I stop bitching while the problem is on-going, people will get the false impression that things are OK, which it isn’t.

            Call it citizen journalism, venting frustration, bitch-fest, whatever. But it is reality.

        2. ModernMarvelFan says:

          “GM doesn’t own anybody, and certainly not Bolt drivers. ”

          They own Maven and major holder of Lyft which means that many of those drivers are getting their cars through the GM program to allow them the ownership as well as certain paid to drive program.

          “These days, it seems you’re having constant PMS with your snarky remarks.”

          Because I am tired of your BS.

          ” At least I have a reason to bitch about free chargers and slow charging Bolt that I see at every DCFC, what is your reason for being bitchy?”

          You have a reason to bitch in general as you are frustrated with something which you should follow your own advice of seeing something rather than posting your repeat rant here.

          Lastly, your rant about Bolt driver and their EV charging pattern has NOTHING to do with the FCEV and hydrogen station article. We are tired of seeing you spinning something into your whining on another completely unrelated article.

          1. SparkEV says:

            “those drivers are getting their cars through the GM program”

            As mentioned, Maven, etc. do not own the drivers. They can just as well get FCEV for ridesharing purpose and leave DCFC.

            Talking about mitigating on-going Bolt problem is not BS. I don’t think you had PMS when I was bitching about Leaf/i3. Bolt is whole lot worse due to taking double the time.

            I talk about solutions to Bolt problem with FCEV. If you don’t think it’s a solution, fine. But you bitching about something totally related to topic is just you having PMS.

            And your snarky comment is not just with me. I’ve seen some of your comments to other people, and you seem to PMS whole lot more than before.

            Relax; go bitch about Lyft/Maven Bolt, because they deserve it. Just hope that they don’t spread to where you live; or maybe you don’t care if you don’t ever plan to use CCS.

            1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

              “is just you having PMS”

              He’s on his ‘manstruation’ cycle.

            2. ModernMarvelFan says:

              “And your snarky comment is not just with me. I’ve seen some of your comments to other people, and you seem to PMS whole lot more than before.”

              Only the stupid ones…

              Yes, I have problem with stupid people.

              1. SparkEV says:

                You were fine with me bitching about Leaf slow charging and free charging, even chiming in that’s due to lack of TMS. Now that I’m bitching about Bolt’s even slower charging AND having TMS, and you have problems with me talking about that?

                But at least you’re honest. You really are stupid for not recognizing your own contradiction, and right to be pissed at yourself. Just don’t take it out on everyone else.

    2. Nick says:

      I think the cost per mile would keep you way underwater if you tried to use FCEVs for ride sharing. Additionally, I think some (most?) stations don’t have the capacity for repeated fills.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Clarity FCEV gets 20K miles and $15K worth of free H (over 60K miles worth). That’s more H than Bolt free charging offer. For miles, they can probably negotiate lot more miles if they pay as much as Bolt lease with Lyft.

        1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

          20k miles/year is more than it is needed for average driver but I guess it is way less than it is needed for taxi use (or whatever latest buzz word you prefer to call taxi).
          Also waiting list for Clarity FC may be a year or so – they don’t produce it in big numbers yet.

      2. L'amata says:

        Building Hydrogen cars is like Cutting off your nose to save your face….

        1. FCsareNonsence says:

          Don’t mind if the auto makers lose money on Fuel Cells; I just hate to see California continue to spend tax money on losing projects because it’s the political thing to do.

    3. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

      Aren’t most leased? And isn’t their a mileage limit of 15,000 miles? Seems they would burn through that quickly with 70-100 miles a day of driving.

  2. Jimmy says:

    How many hydrogen refueling stations are there outside of California?

    1. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

      I looked on the DoE site and only count four. Someone told me that there were two under construction in NY, but who knows?

    2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      “How many hydrogen refueling stations are there outside of California?”

      Hundreds maybe. It depends on what kind of stations are you asking for. There are old small capacity research stations not necessary open to public, bus stations, train stations, forklift stations, retail stations for light vehicles now. There are stations in the US, Europe, Japan, Korea.

      In the US besides California, few retail stations are opening in North East and one in Honolulu.

  3. speculawyer says:

    It’s dead, Jim.

    1. ffbj says:

      It’s I don’t think there have been as many pronunciations of death by so many which can only be compared to the one, you to allude too.

  4. unlucky says:

    I see a couple a week. It’s rather surprising. I don’t know what the attraction is. All I can figure is people who are convinced Toyota is leading the way forward like they did with the Prius. That and cheap leases.

    1. SparkEV says:

      Many Bolt leases are cheaper. I suspect many got it before Bolt became available.

      In addition to Toyota-aid drinkers, there may be many who can’t charge EV at home / work and happen to live near H station. And maybe some got fed up with all the waiting at DCFC for free charging Leaf/i3.

      1. says:

        I bet you never had to wait for anyone but you just like bitching about it. Give it a rest, it not a problem!

        1. SparkEV says:

          Not a problem? Here’s what happened few days ago.

          Anticipating waiting, I stopped at DCFC with about 25 miles remaining. If I’m lucky, I’ll be in-and out in 10 minutes, and if not, I have the range to go to another few miles away. Bolt is there and i3 waiting.

          There’s another DCFC 10 miles down, so I go there. Another Bolt, and he tells me he’ll take an hour since he needs “full”. And there’s Leaf at Chademo only charger.

          Another DCFC 6 miles away, and guess what? ANOTHER FREAKING BOLT! Fortunately, he unplugged at about 85%, so I only waited 30 minutes before plugging in. But combined with drive time, it’s still an hour “wait” before being able to plug in.

          I’m sure the general public would love to experience hour long wait before being able to plug-in, NOT! This is kind of stuff that will kill EV.

          And if that FCEV driver experienced such wait, which sometimes happened even before Bolt with 3 free charging EV waiting, it could’ve driven him nuts to switch to FCEV.

          1. says:

            Remind me again why are you not charging at home? Maybe a short range ev is not for you…

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Good grief, Sparky, give it a rest!

        Yeah, we get that you don’t like waiting in line to charge your Spark EV at a public charger. But not everything in the world is about that; in fact, not everything is about you.

        Your repetitive whining whining on the subject is getting really obnoxious.

        1. mzs.112000 says:

          Well, he has a valid point, more-or-less.
          A big problem for EV’s IMO is the fact that most charging stations(not Tesla-exclusive Superchargers), only have 1 or 2 stalls.

          The chargers need to have at least 4 stalls.
          If we expect EV’s to gain a lot of market share, there needs to be enough charging stalls for them. How often do you see waiting lines at gas stations?

          1. says:

            Sam’s Club always has lines at their gas stations but i get what you are saying. However, you probably don’t realize how little you need charging on the road. I drive an ev for over a year now and never got to use my ChargePoint card yet…will it happen? Probably. The chargers i have in my area are never occupied, in 2 years i have seen only one Spark charging one time.

            1. SparkEV says:

              Waiting for gas doesn’t take an hour, especially if you go to another station just few blocks away. Same is true with H station. In fact, NOTHING will make you wait an hour before you can fuel.

              As for your lack of use, fine, you don’t drive much beyond battery range and never forget to plug-in. But most people will actually use the cars as real cars. That means sometimes, we use the public chargers.

              1. says:

                I drive about 10k miles per year, how is that not like a real car? Yes, i never forget to plug in…it’s as easy as plugging in your smart phone…you get out of the car and plug in. Most people don’t have long drives daily so your situation is not the norm.

              2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                SparkEV said:

                “Waiting for gas doesn’t take an hour, especially if you go to another station just few blocks away. Same is true with H station.”

                To bring this back to the subject of the article, which is hydrogen powered FCEVs, or “fool cell” cars…

                I have certainly read of cases where the hydrogen fueling station ran out of fuel or ran low on compression, and the driver had to wait an extended time while the station recharged or re-pressurized its tank. That may be a rare case… or not.

                Furthermore, your chances of finding another hydrogen fueling station just a few blocks away are slim and none.

                Fortunately, since I don’t drive a fool cell car and I’m absolutely certain I’ll never buy one, it’s not anything I’ll ever need to worry about.

        2. SparkEV says:

          My comments aren’t only for you (nor ModernMarvelFan). People read IEV other than the regulars. If they are thinking of buying EV with all the hope (now hype) of fast charging, my regular bitching injects some reality into the matter. If they got CCS car in San Diego, or expecting to charge in SD (eg. Ioniq, i3, eGolf, even Bolt for long drives) they can expect to wait before being able to plug in, hour or two in some cases.

          Call it public service announcement and if you don’t like seeing it, ignore it.

    2. Bret says:

      I commute in So. Cal. and I also see a couple of Mirais per week. The front end looks pretty cool, but the back end looks funky. I have also seen them driving along with water just pouring out the back.

      Does anyone here have a Mirai and if so, how do you like it?

      I’m glad I can charge my Leaf at home, instead of looking for a hydrogen station to fill up. Ditching Shell and the other oil companies was one of my motivations for going electric.

      1. philip d says:

        I wonder if hypothetically all cars became HFCVs what all that water would do on the roadway in subfreezing weather with 100s of thousands of cars commuting on the freeways.

        I guess they could add another tank that holds the water to be dumped later as part of the fill up process.

        1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

          philip d:

          I would guess PEM FC temperature will exceed 100 C before it will take most of the car market. Then the exhaust can be steam, not liquid water.

          Right now Mirai can hold water of a while and release it with push of a button.

  5. Roy_H says:

    Who are all these idiots buying/leasing FCVs. These fueling stations cost over $1M each and are 100% funded by taxpayers. The beneficiaries are the oil companies that will sell hydrogen. They should be paying for this distribution network not taxpayers!!! Electric charging costs a small fraction and only has partial subsidy from governments.

    People who support FCVs are convincing the government to install thousands of stations costing billions $$. Is this where you want your tax dollars going??

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      Honda and Toyota employees.

      Head of CARB.

      Some Honda and Toyota loyal nuts…

    2. Skeptic says:

      I am one of those people. I lease a Honda Clarity, and it is a big improvement over my BMW i3 for my daily commute. The hydrogen station is only a mile from where I work, and I refuel once a week. Honda pays for all the fuel costs. If they didn’t pay for the hydrogen, I would not have leased the car, since hydrogen is about three times as expensive as an equivalent amount of gasoline energy.

      Unlike the i3, I don’t have to remember to plug-in every night. It didn’t happen often, but when I did forget, I was stranded for that day. Plus, I can take reasonably long drives on the weekend with the Clarity, something I couldn’t do without extensive planning in the i3. So, for me, it works. I’m happy to participate in this test of using hydrogen as a fuel. When I entered this lease, the only BEV alternative was the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Models S & X, which didn’t meet my comfort and luxury requirements, or were too expensive. With the Clarity, I am restricted to driving within California due to the lack of infrastructure outside of the state. But I can drive from San Francisco to San Diego and back and spend no more than ten minutes refueling. No Tesla can yet do that. And that is the big advantage of hydrogen over pure BEV. Fuel cell vehicles would be logical if the infrastructure existed.

      As it is, it is a matter of the “chicken or the egg.” I think BEV will eventually win out, as soon as the recharging problem is solved. Tesla has made great strides with their Supercharger network, but even that is just minimally acceptable at present. Much more progress has to be made with recharging BEVs. But for now, fuel cells have the advantage in long distance driving (within California). But then, why would anyone ever want to leave California?

      1. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

        Sounds like you would have been better served by a Volt or the i3 with a REx. Electric driving with a gasoline backup for distance or if you forget to plug in. I have set my Volt to remind me if I don’t plug it in by 10:00PM. At least with those two cars you can leave California if the San Andreas decides to start it’s own reality TV show, “Flip This State”. 🙂

        I have one of your RAV4 EEVs out here in NC and if they could give it fastcharging and a 150-200 mile battery, I would never drive anything else.

        1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

          For $3000, you too can charge at all the CHAdeMO stations….

          1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

            Not sure why the Toyota boneheads did not even offer an option to DCFC but whatever……..

      2. stimpy says:

        You traded having to remember to plug in to having to remember and visit a H2 station. Not sure I’d call that a win.

        Also subjective and all, but how can you stand looking at the car? Even the i3 looks better.

        1. Skeptic says:

          I love the way the car looks. It’s the best looking Honda ever.

          1. Skeptic says:

            Also, the Clarity is much larger, with more room. It is very comfortable inside. It rides like an Accord, which is much smoother than either the i3 or Volt. In fact, it is one of the quietest, smooth, long-range cars I’ve ever owned. It is a pleasure to drive, and when I arrive at my destination, I’m still feeling fresh. The i3, while great around town, was not so much fun on the highway for more than a half-hour. In fact, my only complaint is the touch-screen volume control, which has convinced me that the Tesla Model 3, with a touch screen as its only controller, will never work for me.

            1. Acevolt says:

              The Touchscreen is not the only controller, there are scroll wheels on the steering wheel for volume and fan speed among other things and then there is voice control.

              1. Skeptic says:

                You are the second person to reassure me that the steering wheel controls can be configured to adjust volume. I hope so. Still, it is no match for a stationary rotary volume knob which allows precise adjustments in a constant location. However, if you disagree, you won’t be the first to accuse be of being an ol’ foggy, who won’t adjust to modern iPad design ergonomics.

                1. says:

                  The S is one of the best selling luxury sedans out there…how many buttons that has…hint…people get used to steering controls really fast and realize quickly how useless all the knobs and buttons can be. I simply don’t get why people are so fixated on the buttonless Model 3 but ignore that there is already a successful car on the market that started this.

                  1. Skeptic says:

                    Sure. The Model S is the best-selling vehicle in the luxury class. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of its features are best in class. I see great utility in Tesla’s large screen display. I just don’t think that every function is best accomplished through it. I have yet to find a better control device for changing audio volume than a stationary rotary knob! I’ve used and tried them all, including BMW’s hand gestures. Touch screens are one of the least desirable solutions for this particular function. I want a car with the best implementation for each function. The Model 3 forces me to utilize one big compromise. The user interface has a big impact on utility, and Tesla does a good job with it; but it isn’t perfect. Some functions should be controlled by the best technology available, even if that technology is over a hundred years old.

      3. ffbj says:

        Sounds fine for you since they pay for the fuel, but then if you want to go anywhere else you can’t since you are restricted to a radius like a dog to a chain. What maybe 150-200 miles from a the closest station.

        1. Skeptic says:

          As I already said, why would I want to leave California?

          1. philip d says:

            Well then that may be just the car for you and the very tiny minority of people like you.

            1. Skeptic says:

              I love being a minority. We are like the fertilizer that allows the otherwise blind and single-minded majority to grow and prosper. You’re welcome.

              1. says:

                “You’re welcome.”
                For nothing, really!
                I would never give up hone charging from my solar panels…it’s the best!

                1. Skeptic says:

                  Nor would I! I just love “driving on sunshine. Oh hoo! And don’t it feel good?”

                  1. says:

                    It is! My fuel is free for decades to come while yours will be x3 what you will pay for gas. Smart!

                    1. Four Electrics says:

                      Unless you’re completely off grid, you are not driving on sunshine. You are giving clean energy to the grid during the day and drawing dirtier, peak energy from it when you charge. Or do you keep your car at home every day from 10-2? If you stored your electricity, perhaps in a battery or in hydrogen, the world would be a cleaner place, because you would not be drawing peak dirty power.

                    2. says:

                      I work in the afternoon so the electricity is straight from the panels. I’m all for helping the grid whenever possible. Anyway, you are both assuming that my primary motivation was environmental and you are both wrong. Solar and ev is an incredible investment opportunity in SoCal.

          2. Skeptic says:

            And a “dog on a chain?” Oh! how vicious and demeaning. I thought I was a human making a choice.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          ffbj said:

          “…you are restricted to a radius like a dog to a chain”

          I think that when someone takes the time and trouble to post about his personal experience in driving a certain kind of EV — and let’s not forget that FCEVs are indeed EVs — then we should thank them for sharing their experience, not argue with them and post demeaning comments.

          InsideEVs comment discussions would be better off with more input from people driving different kinds of EVs. Let us please encourage participation from them, not treat them like pariahs.

          Vive la difference!

      4. SparkEV says:

        If the convenience is very important to you, why did you even bother with H? Gassers are lot more convenient than H.

        Even the environmental concern doesn’t make sense with H. Sure, much H supposedly comes from electrolysis, but it’s throwing away most of it due to inefficiency. Because of that, H using electrolysis won’t be sustainable, which means fossil fuel based H in the long run if it ever takes hold.

        For me, H FCEV makes no sense when gassers are more convenient and just as inefficient. For me, it’s either BEV (assuming DCFC available) or gasser.

        1. mzs.112000 says:

          Hydrogen fool-cells are IMO just the fossil-fuel industry, trying to stay relevant.
          The fact that California spent money to build them is stupid, the amount of money that they spent on these 30 stations, could have installed 100 SAE CCS stations.

          What we really need, is to be like Japan, they use 24kW charge stations just like we use 6.6kW ones.
          If we had 24kW chargers everywhere instead of the slow 6.6kW ones we are using now, congestion would not be anywhere near as big of an issue, no more waiting for I3/Leafs to charge, because there would be 12 times as many charge stations that charge at a reasonable speed for traveling.

      5. ModernMarvelFan says:

        “I lease a Honda Clarity, and it is a big improvement over my BMW i3 for my daily commute. ”

        Big improvement in terms of space?

        That is it.

        Performance sucks in the Clarity. It is slow and heavy pig. Also, if you merge heavily on the hwy, that Clarity will whine like a pig with its loud compressor (still better than the Mirai).

        It is only cheap enough because all the heavy incentives involved.

        Talking about driving from SF to SD with less than 10 minutes refilling is pointless since “most sane” people wouldn’t have done it without more than 10 minutes rest and various pit stop either way.

        1. Skeptic says:

          The ten minute refueling time is just a comparison to a Tesla at a Supercharger, which would take at least a couple hours for the same energy.

          1. philip d says:

            Tesla Model 3 long range model has a range of 310 miles. It charges at a rate of 170 miles in 30 minutes. That’s 340 miles in 1 hour.

            The Clarity has a range of 366 miles.

            So it won’t take the Tesla “at least a couple hours”.

            1. Skeptic says:

              You should know better than that. The Tesla’s do not charge at a constant rate. Although they may charge at 170 miles from empty, they won’t continue to charge at that rate until full. It will take at least a couple hours to fully charge the car, if that’s what you want. And that’s providing you aren’t sharing the Supercharger stall with another Tesla. Just check out the stories of Supercharging issues due to all the the solar eclipse travel. The Tesla Supercharging network is a great first step, but in it’s existing configuration, still won’t meet the needs of most drivers, especially after all the Model 3’s hit the roads. Thus, an experiment in hydrogen is warranted. Let’s test both and see what happens. To me, it seems foolish to simply jump on the Tesla fan boi bandwagon, and not test other alternatives as well.

            2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

              170 miles in half an hour is only ideal case if you cherry pick specific 170 out of all 310. Then it becomes 170 range not 310 as the remaining 140 is much slower.
              And the cost of what you can lease from Tesla right now is over $1000/month, not $360/month with fuel. But you know it all perfectly well if you tried to use it for longer road trip, and the readers here know it well too. Why push all this twisted advertising bs then.

      6. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

        “Tesla has made great strides with their Supercharger network, but even that is just minimally acceptable at present.”

        With the Chad adapter for Tesla, that opens up even a larger pool of DCFC’s for a Tesla owner.
        With that, other than charging faster, what else do you really need?

        1. Skeptic says:

          Nothing. Just ten minute charging. Do any of the naysayers really think we won’t have ten minute charging within ten years? That’s whats needed; and that’s what will happen within ten years. Just not immediately. Current Model S’s, X’s, or 3’s won’t do it, but we will evolve to the point where we will. Most current auto manufacturers will have to work toward this, not just Tesla. It will happen, but don’t count on just Tesla. It will have to be a coordinated effort; and that means “gov’ment.” Just like China, but not so much Trump.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:


            I’m really enjoying your well-informed and well argued posts, so thank you again. Sometimes the “BEV purists” need to be reminded that some of the assertions they (and sometimes I, too) repeat so often are more sales pitches than objective factual statements.

            I also find it quite gratifying that you “get it” when it comes to competition inevitably driving down the time it takes to fast-charge a plug-in EV. I find it puzzling that so many EV advocates have not figured out that competition has already driven down fast-charging times, and will continue to do so.

            1. Skeptic says:

              And I thank you , for your reasoned critique.

      7. Roy_H says:

        I don’t object to FCVs per se, I just object to the governments of the world (except China) spending about 10 times on subsidizing fuel cell development, and hydrogen distribution than they do on BEVs. Hydrogen will never be as cheap as electricity, and most people will opt for the cheaper and simpler BEV, so as a taxpayer I will pay 10x supporting the much smaller group who choose FCVs. I just want the oil companies who will profit from this to pay for it.

        You said you would not have bought your Clarity if Honda didn’t offer free fuel. Is that forever? When this deal runs out (I’m guessing 3 years) are you going to be happy paying a premium for H2 (of course if the oil companies have their way the H2 will be heavily subsidized by our taxpayer dollars so it will seem cheaper)? I bet the free fuel does not continue to whoever buys your used Clarity. So what does this do to resale value?

        1. Skeptic says:

          I mostly agree with your sentiments Roy_H. But I don’t mind our state or federal governments helping fund experimentation in alternative fuels, especially in the transition phase. It is in the general interest of taxpayers to experiment and fund alternative fuels, because fossil fuels are so damaging to our environment. I mostly object to the governments of the world still spending 11 billion dollars annually subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. Perhaps your objections to government subsidies extend to EVs as well? If so, then you agree with Elon Musk. No subsidies at all. But is that really an answer to our increasingly urgent environmental crisis?

          I agree that hydrogen is not as energy efficient as using batteries. Right now, in 2017, hydrogen’s only advantage is that vehicles using it can be refueled in five minutes, instead of hours. Depending on your particular use, that may be a huge advantage. It is certainly not more electrically efficient. But it is certainly faster to refuel than any current BEV. As a California tree hugging, solar panel loving, environmentalist, I love BEVs. But not everybody else in the good ol’ USA can. So, in the transition phase from ICE to BEV’s, I think hydrogen has some temporary advantages over pure BEV for some people. I decided a few months ago to personally explore this tract. And I am simply trying to give some weight to that end of the argument; by my own personal experiences.

          Perhaps the long-haul trucking industry will find hydrogen fuel appealing. They will certainly appraise it, considering their main cost—-fuel. Or, perhaps, Elon Musk will convince the trucking industry to adopt batteries exclusively. We’ll see.

          I applaud my state of California in adopting the “many alternatives” strategy in looking for alternative fuels. Since we all pay in health costs for fossil fuel pollution, I don’t complain when governments look for alternatives. Certainly, the “free-market” hasn’t yet attempted such solutions, in spite of obvious pollution and health problems. But then again, the so-called “free market” is not so free, and is instead subject to profit expectations, instead of the health and welfare of its citizens. But, I digress.

          My Honda Clarity lease is for three years. Honda pays for all the fuel costs throughout the lease term. My decision was an economic decision. The lease is non-renewable, as Honda wants the vehicles back for tear-down and examination. It is after all, an experimental vehicle. I will turn in my Clarity after three years, and determine then if the hydrogen fuel alternative has arrived at the point of viability. If hydrogen generation has improved to the point of sustainability, I may choose to buy or lease another hydrogen vehicle. I suspect (but am not certain) that it will not. And I suspect that battery recharging will improve to at least a full charge in 30 minutes. (Again I am not certain). That is exactly why I am willing to experiment with a technology that has an uncertain future. I can afford to do so, and I am willing to experiment. But the rantings of Tesla fan bois do nothing to advance the science or economics of our alternative fuel future. I simply want to experiment with all the alternatives, (and report about them) before deciding on the fate for all future auto enthusiasts.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Skeptic said:

            “Perhaps the long-haul trucking industry will find hydrogen fuel appealing. They will certainly appraise it, considering their main cost—-fuel.”

            The long-haul trucking industry certainly won’t be attracted to a fuel that costs 2x or 3x as much as diesel to run the truck the same distance.

            You seem to be well informed and willing to talk about things the way they really are, Skeptic. So you should already realize that the reason H2 is so difficult to work with and so expensive is due to basic physics and the basic chemical properties of hydrogen itself, and that there simply isn’t any realistic scenario where the non-subsidized price of H2 fuel will ever come down to the point that it can even compete with diesel on cost, let alone compete with electricity stored in batteries. That would require a change in the basic properties of hydrogen.

            There are several fuels which could be generated entirely synthetically, such as synthetic methane. Any one of those fuels could be used for a practical transportation fuel, which H2 will never be.

          2. SparkEV says:

            “My decision was an economic decision.”

            This is the best answer, no other qualifications needed. If you live near H station and drive ~20K miles per year, Clarity is actually a pretty good deal with included fuel. I’ll have to re-examine my BEV/gasser or nothing if H station ever comes close to my area.

            You’ve convinced me! (not being sarcastic)

      8. says:

        “But I can drive from San Francisco to San Diego and back and spend no more than ten minutes refueling.”
        I often hear this argument from people and my first question to them is:
        “Are you actually going to do that?”
        – “No”
        “Do you think you will ever do that?”
        – “Probably not”
        I swear, it’s like a bad comedy where everyone plans for the worst case scenario that is least likely to happen and based on that they make a car purchase.

        1. Skeptic says:

          Actually, I have. But only once so far. The experience was wonderful, and I may attempt it again next year. After all, no matter how wonderful the encounter, visiting distant friends is best done infrequently. Nevertheless, I now know that I can comfortably accomplish this trip with my Clarity.

          1. says:

            Good, at least you using it right.
            How much extra $ is it worth for you that your car can do that once a year? How much extra would you pay just so your car gives you that?

      9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:


        Thank you for your report!

        Altho I personally oppose using tax money to support hydrogen filling stations, I do have to say that all the reports I’ve seen from FCEV drivers have been pretty clear-headed; not one of the reports from those like you seem to be denying basic science or ignoring the practical limits of the tech, as zzzzzzz and a few other “fool cell fan boys” insist on doing.

        I wish there were more posts from reasonable, informed people like you in discussions of FCEVs, and much less from shills like him.

  6. David H says:

    “Ha, only a few HFCVs with low infrastructure. This will newer work out.”

    “Yeah, it’s only a few BEVs now, but think of the S-curve!”

    1. stimpy says:

      Thankfully BEVs don’t depend on million dollar stations, so it’s not at all the same situation.

      1. philip d says:

        And 60% of Americans can charge them at home unlike the 0% that can fill up their HFCV at home.

        1. Skeptic says:

          I agree, and I did this with my i3. But the vast majority of drivers still rely on fueling stations for their ICE cars. It works for 99% of all drivers, although it sucks for the environment. So why not try alternatives that might work for whatever portion of the population where BEVs don’t make sense?

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            At least one person in an InsideEVs post referred to hydrogen-powered FCEVs as a “science fair experiment”.

            Well, that’s basically how I see them too: As a science fair experiment which, by some insane happenstance, has actually been put in production, and fueling stations to support them have become one of the biggest boondoggles to ever waste taxpayer money.

            At what point do we consider that enough experimentation has been done on a particular technology to decide if it can ever be practical? Shall we revive steam engines, and call it an “experiment” if we use taxypayer funds to set up coaling stations for steam powered cars?

            We’ve done the experiments on generating, compressing, storing, moving, re-compressing, and dispensing hydrogen. We know how massively that wastes energy. We know that, from the standpoint of how much pollution and CO2 is generated, you’d be much better off driving a long-range PHEV (like the Volt) than a FCEV, and that BEVs are even better in terms of reducing pollution and CO2 generation.

            We also understand very well the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that “No reaction is 100% efficient”. Therefore, we realize that due to all the steps H2 has to go through before and during the process of filling up the FCEV’s fuel tank, it cannot possibly ever be competitive with BEVs or long-range PHEV (again, like the Volt) in terms of cost, energy efficiency, or pollution/CO2 emissions.

            It’s flatly impossible. Not opinion; fact.

            We’ve done enough experimentation using hydrogen to power a FCEV. We can see the hard limits which nature imposes; barriers which there isn’t any clever way around. The limits that make practical hydrogen-powered cars just as impossible as perpetual motion powered cars, and for exactly the same reasons: Physics and thermodynamics.

            There may be a future for FCEVs, but it will not be by using compressed hydrogen to power them! If we want to experiment further with FCEVs, then it should be by using onboard reformers so more practical fuels can be used to power them.

            If you really need more info on the subject of the basic science and basic economics of using hydrogen as a fuel, Skeptic, you can find that info here:



            1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

              Pu-pu, did you tin foil hat people already invented time machine? I see all the links in your trolling are from last decade :/ Or did you stopped reading at about that time?

              1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                I’m sorry, did the Three Laws of Thermodynamics change in the last decade? Are the basic economics somehow different than they were?

                No, and no! And therefore, my argument doesn’t need to change. But logic has never been your strong suit, has it zzzzzzzzzz?

                It’s you science denying fool cell fanboys (and please note I am not talking about Skeptic) who need to keep desperately casting around for new arguments as your old ones keep getting so thoroughly debunked.

                Now, for the sake of full disclosure, let me point out that there is one bit of info in one or both of those links which does need to be updated: One or both analyses assume cryogenic H2 storage tanks in the fool cell car, with a certain amount of boil-off every day. So production fool cell cars like the Mirai and the Clarity are not quite as profligate in wasting energy as the analyses indicate, since they don’t use cryogenic storage.

                But the actual percentage improvement in energy efficiency (or rather, the horrible inefficiency) is tiny compared to the 65-80% energy loss of the entire H2 supply chain.

            2. Skeptic says:

              Thank you for your provided links to relevant articles. I have already informed myself of some of these thoughts. But I truly do appreciate the references, as an example for what other contributors should include. And I thank you for your civility.
              From a non-purist standpoint, I fully agree that FCEVs are not the best alternative to either BEVs, PHEVs, or even ICE vehicles in all situations. What seems to be missing in these discussions is the situation specific advantage of FCEVs. In my particular situation, a FCEV gives me exactly what I need, with minimal cost, minimal local pollution, and minimal inconvenience. It is certainly not a vehicle for everybody. Hydrogen is certainly not the most efficient use of energy with all its processing inefficiencies, when compare to pure electrical efficiencies. It is certainly not suitable for cross country travel within the USA, due to the lack of supporting infrastructure. But within California, it works adequately, assuming that you want to travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, or Tahoe. Anywhere else, and the infrastructure doesn’t exist. Thus, the chicken and the egg problem. I can’t drive north from S.F. for more than 150 miles, and expect to return home without towing. And, not that I need to; but, I choose to avoid that situation. Just like I did when I had an i3, which provided even less flexibility and four times less range. But for those situations where I need to; I still own an ICE car.
              So yes, FCEVs are a science experiment, just like most BEVs currently are. Both Honda and Toyota admit that before they ever sign up a potential lessee. For a certain portion of the population they work economically, provided the manufacturer pays for the fuel costs. Otherwise they wouldn’t work for anybody in the US. I am happy to participate in this science experiment. And as a good scientist, will report my findings accordingly. I’ll leave it for the accountants of Honda and Toyota to explain their view of the economics, since they pay my fuel bills during the entire lease. I do however, believe in the economics of scale, as is also preached in the gospel of almost all BEV manufacturers. Accordingly, if the hydrogen economy could expand, the price would eventually come down to a reasonable, and competitive level with gasoline. I think this is what the California Fuel Cell Partnership had in mind as they looked to lower-emission alternatives to traditional gasoline vehicles. Also remember that when hydrogen vehicles were first contemplated, gasoline prices were much higher than today. I do agree that it won’t ever get to the energy efficiencies of pure BEVs. But then again, there’s that battery recharging time issue.
              So, my point is that the future may have many alternatives. In some situations, it may be pure BEVs. In others, it may include FCEVs, PHEVs, Hybrid Fuel Cells, or ultra-efficient ICE vehicles. There doesn’t need to be ONLY one technology winner of a very complex situation over many different continents. The future should allow many options best suited to individual and regional needs. Let’s move beyond this didactic ideology that only one team can or should win. (Go Yankees? Really?) Especially in this energy transition phase, we would be well advised to consider many (if not all) options. As sometimes, things don’t work out exactly as the most well informed and educated engineers and executives planned. Fossil fuels are truly a dead end. And we don’t really have that much time, before we no longer are left with any viable choices for a future.

              1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                Skeptic said:

                “In my particular situation, a FCEV gives me exactly what I need, with minimal cost, minimal local pollution, and minimal inconvenience. It is certainly not a vehicle for everybody.”

                And I appreciate both your report and your candor here. You’ve made it clear that for you, the buying decision was at least partly (or perhaps mostly) an economic one. The FCEV fits your specific needs, and indeed it’s hard to beat the offer of free fuel for the entire time you’ll be leasing the car!

                One cannot reasonably argue that the FCEV isn’t the best car for you, or for others with your particular lifestyle and personal needs. But that’s only because the cost of the fuel is, in your case, entirely subsidized by Honda as a marketing ploy. That’s not going to work for the public at large.

                “…if the hydrogen economy could expand, the price would eventually come down to a reasonable, and competitive level with gasoline.”

                My understanding, based on science fundamentals which are fully detailed in articles at the links I’ve provided, is that this is physically impossible. The EROI (Energy Return On Investment) simply doesn’t work for using hydrogen as an energy carrier. Even if scientists and engineers can figure out some way to reduce the cost of one link in the H2 supply chain, H2 has to go thru so many energy-losing steps that it’s simply unrealistic to think that all of those steps added together can ever allow compressed H2 to become as cheap to generate and dispense as gasoline, let alone challenge the low cost of using electricity to charge batteries. Again, not just my opinion, but fact.

                But to a large extent this is just repeating what I’ve already said, and obviously you’re a clear thinker so that’s probably pointless.

                “I do agree that it won’t ever get to the energy efficiencies of pure BEVs. But then again, there’s that battery recharging time issue.”

                Yes, but we both think that difference will fade if not disappear over the next decade or so, and that’s already the only advantage that hydrogen-powered FCEVs have over BEVs. Therefore, I just don’t see any future for using H2 as a fuel, even aside from the fact that it can’t compete on either cost or practicality with gasoline or natural gas or even synthetic methane.

                “So, my point is that the future may have many alternatives.”

                Yes, but none of them will involve the public choosing a massively inefficient and highly impractical fuel, one difficult to work with, in preference to all of the many cheaper and much more practical alternatives. Alternatives including both electricity directly used to charge batteries, and biofuels and/or fully synthetic fuels which don’t have to go thru so many energy-losing steps before being dispensed into a car; don’t need to be highly compressed; can be transported in ordinary pipelines; don’t leak past all seals; don’t embrittle metals in tanks and fuel lines which are exposed to that fuel; and don’t require fueling stations that cost $1 million for every dozen fool cell cars serviced per day!

                Okay, that last problem would be reduced with scaling up, but it can’t and won’t disappear; the high-pressure pumps and dispensing nozzles, and the special seals, needed for H2 compression, storage, and dispensing will never be as cheap to build or operate as the simple, cheap low-pressure pumps used in gas stations.

                “There doesn’t need to be ONLY one technology winner of a very complex situation over many different continents.”

                Well actually, it more or less is a case of “There can be only one”. 😉 The economy of scale means there does need to be a clear winner in which technology is used. If there are, let’s say, five different types of fuel/energy being used in cars, that means the national distribution system will be divided into five parts… meaning no more “gas station on every other corner” situation. Vehicles are only practical to drive in areas where you can easily find a refueling/recharging station, and you’ve already experienced the limitations of that with your FCEV.

                “Fossil fuels are truly a dead end. And we don’t really have that much time, before we no longer are left with any viable choices for a future.”

                There, my friend, we entirely agree! 🙂

                1. Skeptic says:

                  Although I am not an alternative fuels expert, I do believe, in the short term, that hydrogen still may have a place. If it was as inviable as you state with clarity and references, I doubt that companies such as Honda, Toyota, GM, Nicola, and others would be spending so much time and money researching and developing this technology. Perhaps they are throwing their investments away. Or, perhaps there is more to it. One planned way to reduced H2 costs is to use excessive solar and wind energy to produce and store this energy as hydrogen. As your 2006 article states, hydrogen is not energy, it is instead a carrier of energy. Efficiencies can increase greatly over time, as we’ve seen with the ICE. If research and improvements in H2 technology can produce similar results, H2 as an energy carrier deserves further investigation. Storage batteries are not without their costs as well. Your 2007 Energy & Capital article looks similarly grim. But a short perusal of this publication’s other articles makes me somewhat skeptical, since they seem rather pro nuclear, natural gas, and coal. I simply can’t accept their claims without further examination as to whether they are legitimate and impartial. I can accept that they may be biased and still make a valid point. But I am not convinced of their known truths.
                  However, perhaps we are both asking the wrong questions entirely about this matter. Although a technologically oriented discussion blog may be the wrong place to pose this issue, I believe the question is still worth asking. Is our current paradigm doomed to failure, and should we expand our consciousness to wider arenas of thought? Perhaps technological expansion without a guiding philosophy is the problem.
                  Thank you again, for a refreshing, civil, and mind expansionist discussion.

    2. jelloslug says:

      If all the Tesla Superchargers and public EVSEs turned off tomorrow I could still do 98% of my current driving with the charging equipment in my garage.

      1. Skeptic says:

        You are absolutely right. I did this with my i3 and loved the convenience for short trips. Longer trips provided another challenge though. It will take a while before the technology guru’s can figure out and implement an alternative to the long range AND convenience of ICE with the better emissions of BEV or hydrogen.

  7. Eco says:

    A Hydrogen (or reformed methanol-ethanol-gasoline-diesel) FUEL CELL RANGE EXTENDER is what I’m looking for.

    Nissan is testing a Methanol/Ethanol FUEL CELL RANGE EXTENDER in Brazil.

    PowerCell is testing a diesel FUEL CELL RANGE EXTENDER in Sweden.

    Why are companies like Honda and Hyundai insisting on the FUEL CELL being the primary drive system when it makes so much more sense (and cents) to use the FUEL CELL as a RANGE EXTENDER?

    1. SparkEV says:

      Answer: politics.

      More answer: that makes too much sense, and like many things that make sense, will not come to fruition.

      But it would be awesome if SparkEV has Methanol FC of about 20 kW. That’s enough to drive the car at 70 MPH with full blast AC and then some.

      1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

        And then SparkEV would cost like Model S, you would have no trunk, and you would have toxic liquid that needs to be hermetically sealed at all times in your car to prevent nasty poisoning from toxic vapor. Can be done with direct methanol FC, but what exactly is market for such toys? If you don’t mind slightly toxic exhaust, plain gasoline hybrids already do it just fine for fraction of the cost.

        What Nissan is experimenting with in Brasil, is not direct methanol but SOFC. It is high temperature that allows hydrocarbon reforming, and because of high temperature it needs way more work to go into production, and automotive application with frequent stops and starts is pie in the sky yet.

        Symbio in Europe adds fuel cell extenders to commercial battery vans including the same Nissan NV200, but it is the same PEM FC with compressed hydrogen as everybody else is trying to use.

        1. SparkEV says:

          Maybe Ethanol will work better. I have several empty Evercleaer bottles to use as container. They are perfectly safe to drink Ethanol from.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          zzzzzzzzzzz said:

          “…toxic liquid [methanol] that needs to be hermetically sealed at all times in your car to prevent nasty poisoning from toxic vapor.”

          You mean, like gasoline except less toxic? Yeah, nobody would ever use anything as toxic or volatile as gasoline to fuel a passenger car, would they?


          * * * * *

          zzzzzzzzzzz continued:

          “Can be done with direct methanol FC, but what exactly is market for such toys? If you don’t mind slightly toxic exhaust, plain gasoline hybrids already do it just fine for fraction of the cost.”

          There is certainly a much, much bigger potential market for FCEVs using a practical fuel such as methanol than there is for FCEVs using a fuel as wildly impractical as compressed hydrogen gas!

          The advantage of using a FCEV with an onboard reformer, powered by a practical fuel such as synthetic methane or ethanol, is that it’s still an EV, and therefore is more energy-efficient than using an ICEngine powered by that same ethanol or methane fuel. FCEVs are inherently less efficient than BEVs, since the fuel cell stacks themselves are only about 50% energy efficient, but they are still a significant improvement over the infernal (pun intended) combustion engine.

          If you were not shilling for Big Oil, zzzzzzzzz, then a fool cell fanboy like you would be enthusiastically supporting FCEVs powered by a practical fuel plus an onboard reformer.

    2. Skeptic says:

      I fully agree. For both local convenience and long range in a zero-emissions vehicle, I’m waiting for a range-extended BEV using H2.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        The economics and physics don’t work any better for fuel cells used as a range extender than they do for using them in FCEVs.

        In fact, the economics would be even worse for using H2 as a range extender, because with lower demand there would be fewer H2 fueling stations, thus creating even larger regions where no H2 refueling stations could be found.

        Either H2 is a practical fuel, or it’s not. The reality is that it’s about the least practical fuel anyone has ever tried to use to power a car. Using it less often in a range extender won’t alter the fact that H2 is a hopelessly impractical fuel, and always will be.

        If FCEVs are to ever move beyond the “failed science experiment” stage, then a practical fuel must be used to power them.

    3. zzzzzzzzzz says:


      It should be obvious, battery is big and heavy. Look at Clarity Electric with battery only, battery takes all the space & weight and the end result is under 100 miles. Now where exactly you would add FC stack and tank in addition to battery to make it plugin hybrid? It is just a car, maybe large car, but still not magic flying ship.
      Maybe it would make more sense with bigger expensive SUV that has more space. Mercedes is releasing such test plugin. But what is the point, you would still need the same H2 station infrastructure, and you would need electrified parking space, otherwise why pay extra for battery. It is hard to get for folks in US surburbia, but most of the people in the world don’t even have electrified parking, so you have just small niche to sell such plugins. Honda, Hyundai, Toyota are aiming for mass market and they are developing solutions that may make sense in mass market eventually. Luxury toys is secondary for them.

  8. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Truly shocking that ~2000 people would actually buy a fool cell car in California.

    Now, I did see a longish posts by one buyer; he was actually an engineer involved in developing fuel cells at Toyota, and he said he regarded his purchase as supporting the experimental tech. That makes sense, and kudos to him for being willing to spend that kind of money on an impractical car to support this experiment.

    But surely not all ~2000 fool cell car drivers are personally involved in this experiment? …if “experiment” is actually the right word, which seems rather questionable after so many years and so much money thrown away trying to develop a technology which is so very impractical.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I wrote this comment before seeing the posts from Skeptic. I’m very glad that he contributed to the discussion here!
      🙂 🙂 🙂

    2. says:

      Why are you surprised exactly? They have reasonable leases and free fuel so of course some will take it.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Because of the very limited number of H2 fueling stations, coupled with all the reports of stations closed for weeks or months at a time, or out of fuel, or restricting customers to half a tank, or customers having to wait for half an hour or longer while the fueling station repressurizes its tank, and even reports of Toyota having to send out “mobile H2 filling stations” (there’s an oxymoron: mobile station) which were open only by appointment, to deal with customers stranded by a lack of fueling stations open in their area.

        But Skeptic reports none of those problems, so either he’s lucky in living near one H2 station which is dependable about offering fuel, or else such problems have largely abated.

        1. Skeptic says:

          I have had one instance when the high pressure pump (70) was down. I was able to use the 35 pump since my fuel tanks where less than half full, and I received only half a full tank. The CFCP provides an app to track any closings, and they are luckily infrequent in my experience. As I indicated, only once in five months of use. So, I am not personally aware of “all the reports” and “closures.” Except for one instance, its been as reliable as any gasoline station, and much more reliable than many EV charging stations.

  9. Maaz Jilani says:


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