Toyota Alt Fuel Manager: Hydrogen Infrastructure Lagging, Today’s Stations Not “Mirai-friendly”

JUL 31 2015 BY JAY COLE 124

First 2016 Toyota Mirais Arrived In America This Month

First 2016 Toyota Mirais Arrived In America This Month

Toyota opened its sales portal for US customers to request to acquire a hydrogen Mirai last week; with the company ultimately hoping to sell/place upwards of 700 of them in America California this year.

Still Not Very Many Fueling Stations To Be Fond In California For The 2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Sedan

Still Not Very Many Fueling Stations To Be Fond In California For The 2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Sedan

So it was interesting to hear Craig Scott’s, (national alternative fuel vehicle manager for Toyota), take on the existing refueling infrastructure in an interview with Forbes this week.

“There are 48 stations that are planned and funded by the state of California that are all in various stages of development. There are a handful of stations that already exist but we don’t consider those to be Mirai-friendly, if you will, they’re really not ready for prime time. Of the 48 that have been developed, two have been completed so far. Probably another eight or so that are in construction.

By the end of the year we’re anticipating somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 stations open and ready. That means that they’re retail ready for a Mirai customer. That will obviously grow over time and we (should have) 20 more for next year. There are funding cycles in California. It’s roughly $20 million a year.”

The Toyota Mirai is priced at just over $57,500, but up to $13,000 in lease incentives/reductions are available  – making the proposition of driving a Mirai a much more enticing proposition.  Lease deals are already being promoted for $499/month with $3,649 down.

The Mirai (full specs) has an EPA-rated range of 312 miles and a MPGe rating of 67.

Check out the Forbes full interview with Mr. Scott hereHat tip to sven!

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124 Comments on "Toyota Alt Fuel Manager: Hydrogen Infrastructure Lagging, Today’s Stations Not “Mirai-friendly”"

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What can we say, money can buy (almost) anytthing.
Doesn’t even have to make sense.
So California would have spent more on hydrogen than on pure BEV and for much less station and overall availability.
Spend all your money, seems to be the moto there, and I tought californian were a bit short on state income.

+1. Can we please stop all the fuel cell funding and direct it to EV infrastructure and technology? Sheesh, what a waste.

here’s how it works: if people don’t want to spend 30-60 minutes, at minimum, standing around and waiting for their car to recharge, they aren’t going to buy BEVs. if people don’t buy BEVs, then investments in EV infrastructures will be a waste of money.

FCEVs are clearly not ready for prime time; but neither are BEVs. while hydrogen EV efficiency is not that of the battery EV, from what i’ve seen here, hydrogen EV efficiency is pretty good compared to ICE. so FCEV would not only reduce emissions, but would also advance the state of energy efficiency.

it is not clear that FCEVs will be viable but it certainly makes sense to consider FCEVs and non-lithium ion battery technologies. what elon musk fanboys don’t seem to realize is that progress doesn’t stop because elon musk went all in on lithium ion battery technology.

for my own part, i am warming to the idea of a migration path toward an FC and battery hybrid EV. that would provide the convenience of FC for long distance travel and the convenience of BEV for local travel, all done emissions free.

Long distance doesn’t for FCEV because there won’t be any H2 stations outside any significant radius anyway.

Plug in chargers on the other hand are widely available all the way down to common 110V outlets.

We haven’t even seen 1,000 fuel cell vehicles get sold or leased in the US, and there are already 2 different standards. H35 for fuel cell vehicles that fill to 5,000 psi, and H70 for ones that fill to 10,000 psi.

In order for a station to fill a car’s tank to 10,000 psi rapidly, the station’s tank needs to be at around 16,000 to 20,000 psi.

To fill a car with a 5,000 psi tank, you only need 8,000-10,000 psi in the station’s tank.

But if the stations are standardized, they all have to be at the higher pressure. Especially if they want to do cars back to back.

So this is yet another layer of waste for fuel cell vehicles that have a 5,000 psi tanks. The extra energy (electricity) that is used to pressure up the station’s tank to 20,000 psi is completely wasted when one of these lower psi fuel cell vehicles is filled. It is just energy down the drain with no benefit.

no comment wrote “for my own part, i am warming to the idea of a migration path toward an FC and battery hybrid EV. that would provide the convenience of FC for long distance travel and the convenience of BEV for local travel, all done emissions free.” I just don’t see any convenience in FC, because there’s none. Fast time refueling is baloney so far and beside time refueling only matter when you have to stand like a useless popsicle waiting to end the refill. 3 years down the road with a Leaf* and 53 000 miles on it, it took a lot of charging and I never had to stay around waiting, because it does while I sleep, rest, read, cook or eat or watch TV or else, and even at DFCC where I leave the car alone to charge and don’t even have the time to buy and drink a coffee before it’s ready to go again. Time of course is wasted if you have to stand with the filler hose in your hand and watching around everything that could go wrong or dreaming of doing something good of your time. Your strand by it, no so much… Read more »

“no comment” commented:

“…FCEV would not only reduce emissions, but would also advance the state of energy efficiency.”

“what elon musk fanboys don’t seem to realize is that progress doesn’t stop because elon musk went all in on lithium ion battery technology.”

Tesla Motors (Elon Musk) fanbois are optimistic.

Fool cell fanbois are delusional.

Does this have an upgradability in range in the future? We all know that batteries are getting better every year. In five to ten years you can probably upgrade a current Tesla Model S to a 500-mile battery or maybe even a 1,000-mile battery. What is the theoretical limit to energy density of a rechargeable battery? The energy content within a hydrogen fuel tank is set unless you get a larger tank or higher psi, but seriously, who wants to drive around with 20,000 psi tank full of hydrogen…I mean besides the terrorist.

“What is the theoretical limit to energy density of a rechargeable battery?”

Theoretically, something in the ballpark of gasoline or diesel energy density. Practically, of course, probably somewhat less.

As you can see on the graph below, there is an enormous potential for improvement:

“for my own part, i am warming to the idea of a migration path toward an FC and battery hybrid EV. ”

Then you mean a NATURAL GAS or METHANOL fuel cell hybrid. Once the battery capacity is high enough to allow a pure-BEV range, then it’s high enough to allow high-temperature fuel cells. Fuel cells with the tolerance to use direct energy sources, no hydrogen losses involved.

I don’t think lack of battery capacity is what’s holding back any theoretical ability of a fuel cell to burn fuel directly, without needing an onboard reformer. What’s holding it back is that it’s impractical. In some way or another, all fuel cells operate on hydrogen fuel, whether that is provided in pure form or by some method of onboard reforming of fuel into hydrogen. Fuel cell systems which include a separate reformer, or which can perform internal reforming, are more bulky and considerably more expensive than ones which are provided with hydrogen fuel. In other words, they’re not going to be seen in mass produced cars.

In addition, onboard reformation means there is toxic waste which must be either vented as exhaust, or collected and dumped later.

Toyota believes in HFCV so much that it’s saying that it’ll only build infrastructure as fast as someone else pays for it. Oh, it’ll pay for hydrogen though, but maybe because it doesn’t want anyone to see how much it costs. The government didn’t pay for the LCS-25 in my garage, I’ve used 0 public chargers and I believe I’m over 9,000 EV miles on my Volt. Should add another 80-odd tomorrow, thanks in part to plugging into an outside socket at a friend’s house. Oh, at $1M a pop, the money to build 48 hydrogen stations would, by estimates, allow Tesla to add over 160 more Supercharger sites in the USA, which would fill in a lot more of the Interstate network. That’s the joke. HFCV needs to match gas, which means they’ll need 120k filling stations. Long-distance BEV just needs a 200-mile rating and _ fewer than 600 locations_ completely to cover driving anywhere within about 75 miles of the Interstate network in the lower 48, and once you have 1,000 sites you’ll cover other major highways as well. Then you just have organic growth to handle contention. Give Tesla 1 year of GM’s US marketing budget and… Read more »

“if people don’t want to spend 30-60 minutes, at minimum, standing around and waiting for their car to recharge, they aren’t going to buy BEVs.”
Being a long time commenter, you should know better than to make that fallacy. No one stands around to wait for their car to recharge. The good thing about a plug-in is that it’s designed to charge unattended.

“FCEVs are clearly not ready for prime time; but neither are BEVs.”
BEVs (and also PHEVs) are already running in the prime time. The combination of lower running costs and home charging convenience is what is appealing to people for plug-ins. For hybrids it was the lower running costs.

In contrast, hydrogen FCVs have drastically higher running costs and offer no operational advantage to a conventional car in terms of convenience (there is only inconvenience given the limited infrastructure). Throw in high vehicle cost (even when subsidized by both automaker and government) and it’s clear why there is limited appeal.

That’s strange; I thought most people charged overnight in their own garages, and with improved battery technology that charging stations (your 30 – 60 min. scenario) would be infrequently needed. Hmmm…

@no comment FCEVs (as you call them) are a hybrid technology – in the case of the Mirai basically identical to the Prius. The fossil fuel elements (Fuel Cell in the Mirai and Gasoline Generator in the Prius) are the primary differences. Essentially the Mirai needs extra radiators to dispose of waste heat, a DC:HVDC converter because the fuel cell electricity output voltage is too low for the Prius inverter, and of course a heavy and bulky pair of hydrogen tanks – 87 Kg worth to contain the extreme pressure of a mere 5Kg of hydrogen that if uncompressed would occupy the interior volume of 500 cars – not just the trunk space of one car. The traction battery and inverter is the same and the motor is borrowed from a Lexus hybrid to shave 0.9 seconds off the 0-60 time of the Prius’s miserable 9.9 seconds. The point being was it worth it? The California Fuel Cell Partnership – a lobby group of which Toyota is a sponsor convinced CARB the answer was YES! 40% emissions reductions compared with a gasoline hybrid – EVEN IF THE SOURCE OF HYDROGEN WAS NATURAL GAS. Sadly they omitted to explain the fine-print.… Read more »

To be fair, California spent a lot of money on purchase incentives for plug-in vehicles. There was also quite a bit spent on infrastructure also. i.e. The deal California cut with NRG required them to build $120 million in infrastructure,

CA is offering even more per car for FCV incentives, so that excuse doesn’t fly.

Tesla believed in EVs much more than other automakers, so they built the infrastructure themselves, despite having a tiny fraction of big auto’s capital.

If Toyota had anywhere near the same faith in FCVs, they’d put a mere 0.5% of their cash on hand into the CA stations, and produce renewable H2 themselves.

Japan’s objectives with FCVs are really three fold.

1. Exploit the Californian ZEV system for credits while evading the requirement to build EVs that could pose a cannibalistic threat to its ICE sales.

2. Siphon off US and EU environmental funding in the hope that will slow or even stop competition from EVs with the twin tactic of false public representations of environmental credentials for hydrogen combined with appeals to greed via government/fossil fuel coalitions like H2USA for the exploitation of US onshore fracking for hydrogen production feedstock.

3. Energy independence for Japan shifting the balance of economic and military power away from the USA. The ultimate Japanese dream of FCVs is that they could become powered by the Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) of Methane feedstock, not from the Middle East or US fracking operations but from its own vast deposits of unstable Methane Hydrates that it has located off the shores of Japan, which if exploited (or even disturbed) would more than double world fossil fuel resources and absolutely destroy any and all hope of restoring atmospheric conditions safe for enduring human life on Earth.

Not being able to home charge at home is really going to hurt the Miria adoption.

Not to mention being dependent on few filling stations which you’d better hope is up and running, and that you’re not the second or third guy waiting in line to fuel up.

Will be very interesting to see what the costs of hydrogen will be come Year 4 of the Mirai ownership…

your statement primarily applies to EV enthusiasts, but there aren’t enough of those to make electric vehicles commercially viable. and no, elon musk fanboys, do not recite tesla sales figures as evidence of “success”; it would be difficult to run a viable auto manufacturer as a going concern if most of that company’s revenue comes from a car that sells at benz s-class prices and sales volumes.

There are over 200,000 Leafs on the road. How many decades will it take for there to be than many FCEVs?

Over 200,000 Leafs, over 100 million e-bikes, well over a billion laptops, portable extender batteries, and now stationary storage and e-buses. Heck, throw in drones and camcorders while we’re at it.

Yep, clearly a niche application. Oh, and phones. Lots of phones, over one billion sold in 2014 alone. Any comment, no comment?

“no comment” commented:

“…EV enthusiasts, but there aren’t enough of those to make electric vehicles commercially viable.”


I’m sure that will come as news to Tesla Motors, Nissan, GM, BYD, and BMW, among others.

Not being able to charge at home isn’t an issue for everyone who can’t do that, which is the majority of the world’s urban population, and even makes up 44% of the U.S. population (including me, even though I live in the U.S. urban area with the largest % of PEVs and infrastructure). It will be decades before EV charging infrastructure can be installed at enough work/multi-unit housing/public parking sites to provide for everyone who might want to need to charge, while H2 fueling can be installed at many existing gas stations (including the one 1.7 miles from me where H2 fueling is being added). H2 fueling has the same advantage/disadvantage as gas stations do – because the fueling site is completely disassociated from where you live or work, you’re choice on where you do either of those things is limited only by proximity to a fueling station (and Toyota won’t sell/lease you one unless you have such proximity, while station numbers are so limited). On the down side, for those who can charge at home/work and have the security of knowing they won’t have to move or change jobs for a long time, there is some extra inconvenience. But… Read more »


Hydrogen will ALWAYS be more expensive than gasoline on a cost basis, since low-temperature fuel cells have strict poisoning drivers far beyond the crap a piston will light off… after the middleman’s cut taken by hydrogen infrastructure, per fluid mechanics… after the middleman’s cut taken by ALL synthesis pathways, per the Second Law.

“Hydrogen cannot compete with hydrogen sources,” and markets advance by eliminating middlemen, not seeking new ones.

“including the one 1.7 miles from me where H2 fueling is being added”

Except when you consider an EREV like the
chevy Volt and BMW i3 and your argument completely goes to pot. The FCV has then less range, less performance, longer fuel time, and less environmentally friendly.

And a hybrid gasoline fuel cell with substantial battery would be even better, from operations or deployment points of view. High drivetrain/tank efficiency, NO infrastructure investment (existing, high efficiency pipes and pumps). Over time, some pumps could sell no-AKI “gasoline” (linear isomers) without modification, saving even the refining losses.

Of course, you’re paying the oil companies for dino dung, but so does hydrogen.

I quite agree that for the moment, PHEVs like the Volt provide a greater level of utility at a lower price, but _only_ if you have somewhere to charge them at a price lower than gas (I, and the majority of apartment/townhouse/condo dwellers don’t); otherwise, a car like the Volt a 40 mpg ICE, and you should just get a less expensive, higher mileage HEV or diesel. Of course, if you’re motivated (and can _afford_ to be motivated) primarily by environmental issues, then you may well be willing to charge at a price higher than you’d pay for gas. I am not in that category, nor are mainstream consumers. As to the relative environmental benefits, that is subject to so many variables, including source of electricity, source of H2 etc., that any general statement that one is superior to the other is likely to be false. The one general statement that can be made in favor of a BEV over an FCEV is that, barring the commercialization of photochemical or thermochemical H2 production (and maybe not even then), BEVs are more energy efficient than FCEVs. That’s a good thing, but I don’t believe that energy efficiency is the primary concern… Read more »

If Toyota really do believe in the Mirai the way they said they do why don’t they build the hydrogen fuel cell stations and maintain them themselves? It is sad to see these things coming off the boat because it will be our tax dollars that will support them. Free trade is not free!

That’s pretty much what they are doing with the initial round of stations, by subsidizing the 19 FirstElement stations in California which will be the first to use standardized equipment with Point-of-Sale payment, instead of the current stations no two of which use the same equipment or have any way to accurately meter and charge for H2, are often too slow, and lack adequate capacity.

They’re also subsidizing the stations in the NE that Air Liquide is responsible for (Air Products is the equipment supplier for FirstElement.

All these stations have performance standards they have to meet, which presumably includes reliability. Toyota isn’t going to put up with stations that are off-line for extended periods of time – after all, they fully realize that a car that can’t be fueled reliably can’t be sold.

But it can be sold to CARB, of course 🙂

And it can be sold to the public, in the form of the abstract idea that Toyota is actually doing something.

GRA said:

“Toyota isn’t going to put up with stations that are off-line for extended periods of time…”

What do you expect Toyota to do about it? Hold their collective breath until they turn blue? Throw a tantrum? One thing they are not gonna do is use their own money to pay for building or maintaining hydrogen fueling stations.

“…after all, they fully realize that a car that can’t be fueled reliably can’t be sold.”

Obviously Toyota isn’t letting that stop them.

Presumably, Toyota intends to hold FirstElement to the performance standards that Toyota wrote into their loan agreement with FirstElement allow for non-fulfillment of contract, in which case Toyota could award the operating contract to another company. No need to hold their breath until they turn blue, just normal business practice.

“Presumably, Toyota intends to hold FirstElement to the performance standards that Toyota wrote into their loan agreement with FirstElement allow for non-fulfillment of BLAH BLAH BLAH

Toyota is only cost sharing a small fraction of the stations, they aren’t paying for the full cost of the station and maintaining them (like Tesla is doing with superchargers). It’s going to be slightly better than the current situation (where Hyundai has no partnerships with any of the stations). If FirstElement fails to keep up with maintenance, the most Toyota can do is pull funding (for the maintenance part; the funding for building stations would have already been spent). And what happens then is the service level only gets worse. This is different from if Toyota owned and operated the stations directly, in which case they will be able to take an active role in making sure they are operational.

You see similar issues with dealer chargers that Nissan donated. The difference is that public hydrogen stations are mission critical for HFCVs. It’s not for plug-ins (you can have a huge fleet without even without any public infrastructure).

JakeY said: “If FirstElement fails to keep up with maintenance, the most Toyota can do is pull funding (for the maintenance part; the funding for building stations would have already been spent). . . . This is different from if Toyota owned and operated the stations directly, in which case they will be able to take an active role in making sure they are operational.” Not true. Toyota would never lend First Element money without any strings attached. Every lawyer would draft a loan contract that gives Toyota collateral for their loan to First Element, usually a lien on the hydrogen station, and a provision for penalty fees for any breach of the contract. In addition to a requirement for timely repayment of the loan, the terms of the loan agreement would also include a provision for First Element to keep up with maintenance and a requirement that the stations be up and running a certain percentage of time. If Fist Element breaches the above provisions they would be in default on the contract/loan-agreement. First Element would owe Toyota penalty fees, and Toyota would demand that First Element cure the material breach in a timely manner. If First Element fails… Read more »

And where, exactly, do you fuel your hydrogen FCV while all this is going on?

You fuel at stations operated by other companies in the same general area, of course. given the current low density of stations that will add some inconvenience, but anyone who isn’t willing to put up with some of that has no business being an early adopter in the first place. As for stations that are down temporarily for maintenance/repair, the state is paying for a mobile station to provide cover in the interim, if there aren’t any other stations reasonably close by.

All that contract stuff is useless to ensuring the station is running in a timely manner. Pulling funding is the only immediate impact Toyota can make. Going through a lawsuit on contract terms will take months, so the situation is no different from what Hyundai is facing.

You can see how well the contracts worked out for the cities that signed contracts with Ecotality. Ecotality simply just went bankrupt and then the Blink chargers had no one to maintain and fix them for months. There was a similar situation with Chicago and 350Green. Luckily plug-in owners don’t rely on them to do all their driving, but hydrogen car owners do.

Hans Marius Torgersen

How much is the funding for quick chargers? 20 million dollar per year for hydrogen stations?

I don’t know, but I can tell you this. The rapid charging infrastructure in Ireland, which is seen as a waste of money, is a ”€4.2 million project [that is] co-funded by the EU Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Programme.”

That’s roughly 2 hydrogen filling stations.

So it’s safe to say that they’re more cost effective at the simplest.

It is far more cost-effective to build and maintain an EV charge station than a hydrogen fueling station, on the order of 20 to 1 or 50 to 1.

Also consider the number of cars served: A typical hydrogen fueling station can serve maybe a dozen cars per day; the biggest one (in Europe) services about 30 per day.

A typical gas station services about 1100 cars per day.

The commercialized, standardized stations that Toyota is subsidizing will be able to serve considerably more vehicles per day than current stations can, and are required to be able to fuel cars in 5 minutes.

Currently existing CA H2 stations were all dem/val projects employing a wide variety of H2 production techniques, transportation methods and equipment; of the 14 in California listed in a survey this past January, no two used the same equipment. It’s hardly surprising that such low volume, largely experimental stations would suffer problems or have long waits for non-standard parts. That’s the reason why Toyota (and Honda) are subsidizing the current round of stations, as they are the first to approach full commercial capability.

The smallest stations under construction will have 100kg./day capacity, compared to the current ones which have at most 50kg./day; most of the new ones will have 180 kg., and one is scheduled for 360 or 380kg./day, forget which. Then there’s the combined marine ferry/car H2 fueling station being studied for S.F., which if built should be able to provide 500kg./day for cars, in addition to the 1,0000/kg. day for ferries. No guarantee on that one.

Spaced on average every 60km/37miles apart? That’s dense coverage.

Not any more! We were outstanding here in 2012, but it has slowed down a bit.

The real praise goes to the UK. Every motorway service station has a rapid charger and Great Britain has over 1200 of them!

I think we have roughly 80 rapid here chargers. The UK’s make ours look like a science experiment!

… The only benefit we have is that it’s owned by a national electricity supplier (ESB), so there’s no mucking around with different private companies with different cards and different prices!

Plenty dense for long distance travel. No so convenient if you live 15 miles in between two. People are spoiled with gas stations every couple of miles. I can live with 5 miles easy enough.

California will have dense coverage and parts of the east coast. And I am sure they can make cross country connectors eventually.

Beyond that, I don’t see the math of ever being able to blanket the country with any type of fueling infrastructure like what we have know in the past with gasoline. When EVs make up 25 -30% of all vehicles, even gas stations will start to disappear in less economic settings.

Terra 53CJ CHAdeMO/CCS combo EVSE are reportedly running from $25k-$50k installed. I’m sure the price fluctuation is due to supplying current to more remote locations. Even at the more expensive end you’re getting 400 dc multi-standard charging stations.

And that’s the installed cost, as electricity infrastructure requires far less excavation than a lightweight (high pumping loss), flammable gas. The most lightweight and flammable gas there is.


So, you’re allied with me, in Schadenfreud for a Japanese company?

And you’re allied with China, the market which finally called out the hydrogen ruse? The largest car market in the world, and arguably the largest market, period?

The Chinese are smart. China retains deep rooted antipathy towards Japan following the Japanese invasion of China during WW2 and in particular the unusual cruelty against unarmed civilians displayed by the Japanese in those events. In US, powerful political interests are all to ready to be corrupted by the pseudoscience of hydrogen as a way of squaring the green lobby seeking GHG emissions reductions with the fracking lobby that pushes the hot button of energy independence from the Middle East. So much so that the US government is willing to fund R&D for hydrogen fuel cells despite the US R&S lead in export technologies in automotive and renewable energy generation that literally guarantees energy independence for the USA as well as domination the of global automotive trade. China on the other hand has no truck with supporting Japan’s ambitions to seek energy independence and a rise in military industrial might through the exploitation of its offshore methane hydrates. Otherwise known as Fire Ice, these deposits are a combination of methane and water that exists in vast quantities that can be dredged from the seabed, and which are a natural born feedstock for ultra-polluting SMR for the production of hydrogen, even… Read more »

You can tell by the air scoops alone that there’s energy being wasted here… lots of it. That doesn’t include the wasted energy producing the fuel. Whatawasteamoney.

But it does include the PR haul from appearing to act-

On the one hand, this whole hydrogen thing seems like a fool’s errand now that BEV’s are looking better in every way. Even if hydrogen fuel cells get a lot cheaper — the whole thing is still inferior to BEV’s.

On the other hand, I have to assume that Toyota is not stupid.

I’m not sure how to reconcile the two.

It’s not a fool’s errand for Toyota who is doing this to grab ZEV credits. Most likely a very financially sound decision for Toyota in the near term.

I’m guessing Toyota feels they can simply jump into the BEV race when they feel like it.

If HFCEV’s take off (which they won’t) Toyota will be in the leadership position. If they never take off Toyota feels at least it helped them with ZEV credits.

One of those two statements must be wrong. Considering how Toyota is looking more and more like 1970s era GM (chasing market share over design and quality), I’d guess that they are actually stupid, or at least making stupid decisions.

It’s a Japanese thing to “double down” on your mistakes in order to save face. It’ll cost them in the long run, no doubt.

Steve Harvey said:

“I have to assume that Toyota is not stupid.”

True, but Toyota isn’t building “fool cell” cars for the usual reason that auto makers build gasmobiles. They’re not building them to make compelling cars to sell to customers.

Toyota is building “fool cell” cars for a variety of reasons, including trying to cash in on ZEV credits, justifying all the money they’ve spent on developing FCEVs, and appearing to be a “team player” in Japan, where the government is pushing the concept of the “hydrogen highway” very hard. Note that in Japanese culture, being a team player is much more important than it is in Western culture.

Toyota isn’t being stupid or insane. But neither are they making “fool cell” cars for the reasons their marketing department claims.

so what are the hydrogen Tucsons doing?

Driving farther to find the stations that are actually operational and in some cases waiting 30 minutes for the station pressure to come back up to minimal so they can then fill maybe half a tank.

and secretly wishing they had leased a BEV or a Volt…

not much

And doing it slowly.

Embarrassing the residents of Tucson, AZ.

The lithium-sulfur battery will make the Mirai pointless. This is a lead balloon.

Platinum-group balloon!

Fuel cell vehicles will consume their own resources, while ALSO needing batteries for driveability, thus funding BEV research & development. The enemy is ALSO my friend.

Hard to imagine the Mirai selling well in a state with so many BEV and PHEV options.

What do you get with the Mirai that the 2016 Chevy Volt doesn’t provide? Other than a car you can’t drive from LA to Vegas, Yosemite, Tahoe or SF Bay Area, and a lease payment roughly double? And fuel at $13.50/kg after year 3.

Even if all 20 stations are working perfectly by the end of next year, $500/mo is not a very competitive offer. Add fuel cost in year 4 and you’ll be paying about the same as a Model S lease, and at least 2x what you’d pay for Model 3, Chevy Bolt or Gen 2 Leaf on a monthly basis.

Look for some very steep discounts on Mirai in 2016.

300 miles of zero tailpipe emissions without recharging. Assuming the infrastructure is in place, you can refill in 5 minutes and rinse, repeat.

Yes, the infrastructure isn’t ready yet. Maybe this will change with time and $$$.

Yes, the onboard energy requires significantly more energy to produce than recharging a battery for a similar distance. This will probably improve slightly, but still be at a disadvantage until we have enough excess renewable that we can store it through hydrogen generation. (time + $$$)

Yes, the onboard energy can be generated with fossil fuels, and in this case the total emissions aren’t significantly better than the Volt when operating in charge sustaining mode.

Wrong. Renewables will not help hydrogen, because stationary batteries are cheaper than double conversion (electrolysis-storage-fuel cell). This is also true for direct photoelectrochemical pathways, as methanol can be synthesized for a fraction of the losses of hydrogen. Then, dispensed through essentially standard fuel infrastructure.

For long distances, the market has spoken- natural gas is being installed along key interstates, including the Midwest. And hydrogen cannot compete, certainly not with natural gas fuel cells.

“Wrong. Renewables will not help hydrogen, because stationary batteries are cheaper than double conversion (electrolysis-storage-fuel cell).”

For near-symmetrical applications – where the storage can only supply maximum rated power in/out for a couple of hours or less – this is probably true. Fuel cells are still expensive, though the cost is decreasing.

For asymmetrical applications – where total storage capacity can supply maximum rated power in/out for many hours or even days – this may not be true. Hydrogen storage is cheap, relatively speaking.

If you want to operate on solar, and you have slightly more supply than you need for most days, but you want to be able to provide power for multiple cloudy days, a fuel cell / hydrogen backup is probably a better solution than batteries (at scale).

Actually, you will be able to drive LA-SF and SF-N.Tahoe almost right away, as initial stations will include those that will enable such trips. Yosemite will a bit longer, but then I can’t drive a Tesla to Lee Vining and down the east side now either, despite 3+ years of SC construction.

So, are you the Traveling Salesman, or are you the Knight’s Tour?

Neither, of course- you’re the Straw Man.


You should be able to drive your Tesla to Lee Vining from the East side without a problem but you’ll have to deign to using public charging stations. I know that takes some of the fun out of owning a Tesla and adds a bit of expense but if you’re willing to pay for fuel it is easy to do.

Unfortunately, I live int eh Bay area, and I’m interested in getting to Lee Vining and points south from there. The Manteca SC is too far west, and we (that’s the TMC ‘we’) have been agitating for an SC in Lee Vining, as well as in between Manteca and Lee Vining (the Groveland HPWC is better than nothing, but still requires a prolonged stop there and a payment) for the past two years or more (and also in Bishop to go with the ones that Tesla built in Lone Pine, Inyokern and Mojave). Tesla’s current plans are to only install an HPWC or two in Lee Vining.

You also can make it easily in a Chevy Volt or BMW i3 Rex AND be more environmentally friendly.

Yes a Volt/Fusion/C-Max etc. PHEV is a good current choice (given somewhere low-cost to charge them), the i3 (even with ‘hold’ mode and the bigger tank capacity unlocked) less so. Personally, I consider anything less than two hours at freeway speeds between refuelings to be unacceptably inconvenient. If the i3 had a 4 or 4.5 gallon tank and hold mode it would be acceptable.
GRA> you will be able to drive LA-SF and SF-N.Tahoe almost right away Even if that is true, my point was that you won’t be able to drive: From LA to Vegas, Yosemite, Tahoe or SF Bay Area. Maybe one out of four is ok? Except that a Volt, or BMW i3 or any other PHEV would be able to make 4 out of the 4 trips, and any other, without any accommodation. For half the purchase or monthly price. That’s probably worth repeating: at half the purchase price. How will the Mirai be competitive? H2 Fuel is currently $13.50/kg. Mirai drivers will be paying full price after year 3. How will the Mirai be competitive at $3,500 down and $500 per month and the equivalent of $7 per gallon fuel? Whatever you believe about the availability of refueling infrastructure – which is a gamble however you look at it – the Mirai is not price competitive, and has no utility or functionality not offered by many other zero-emission options. And in 2017-2018, that situation is not going to be better, it is going to be substantially worse for Mirai. You’ve got to really love H2 to pay 2x monthly… Read more »
I quite agree that anyone buying (or more sensibly leasing) a Mirai or Tucson FCV now isn’t doing so because it makes financial sense – the exact same thing holds true for Tesla buyers, or FTM the buyers of most $30k+ short-ranged BEVs. Without subsidies they make no financial sense compared to an ICE. The people who will lease FCVs are technically-oriented early adopters, the same people who were willing to pony up big bucks for Teslas. The environmentally-motivated group has mostly been sucked up by BEVs, although I do know some LEAF and other owners who are interested in the Mirai because it’s a better fit for their needs than even the coming Gen 2.0 ‘affordable’ BEVs. As to FCEVs (actually, FCHVs) only able to do 1 out of 4 routes, it’s 2 out of 4 right from the get go – SF-Tahoe (forgot about the newish West Sacramento station, which allows round trips from there to either North of South Tahoe, even without the coming station in Truckee), plus LA-SF. I’d love to see stations added soon to allow SF-Yosemite and L.A.-Vegas (I don’t personally care about the latter); if the demand is there, I have no doubt… Read more »

All good points, GRA, but I don’t know anyone who drives a Tesla who would even remotely consider a Mirai.

No charge at home convenience. How many people who buy an $80k-$100k car don’t have a way to charge it overnight? Not many by my count (and I am counting).

I’ve yet to hear a single person opine that the Mirai is an attractive car.

It’s definitely not a luxury car. Double that for performance.

Nor a car that your neighbors will envy.

And still far more expensive per mile to drive than a Model S or X. Or any PHEV.

The numbers will tell the story in a couple of years, but if the Tucson FCV performance to date is any indication, it’s not looking good.

I fully agree that if you can afford it and it works for you, a Model S is a much nicer car than a Mirai. It’s also a much larger and more expensive car than a Mirai, and people who can’t afford a Model S will have an option of leasing (IMO it makes no sense to buy the first gen of any new tech with a limited infrastructure) a ZEV which will be using H2 produced with at least 33% renewable energy, and at some locations 100% renewable. Re the Mirai’s looks, also see my reply to James lower down in the thread. It definitely ain’t helping, and when the cat was introduced at auto shows in the U.S., it was notable how people who worked at Toyota’s California Design center went out of their way to say that they had no say in or input into the design. Maybe that look will work in Japan, but it’s a huge problem in the U.S. and Europe. Japanese pop culture has a lot of esthetic horrors to answer for, the Juke being one. I’d like to think that no U.S. or European car maker could conceivably introduce a car with… Read more »

I see another false comparison of hydrogen station = gas station. Yes, at a gas station there is typically no wait time, but as we are seeing in the recent article about California hydrogen stations, that is definitely not true of hydrogen stations. The typical stations being planned right now in CA are 100kg stations, which can service 20-25 cars per day *peak* (6700 miles of travel if all cars were Mirais).

A typical gas station on the other hand on average serves 4400 gallons of gas per day. That’s around 300 cars per day on a full fillup, 132k miles per day (30 mpg). And that’s only the average.

Even the 1500kg “mega” hydrogen station concept for SF can only service 100k miles per day for a Mirai (and they are planning to split only 500kg of service for cars, so it’ll be far less). Who knows how much money that station will cost (if it even gets built).

The 100kg/day stations aren’t the ‘typical’ ones; the majority of the new stations are 180 kg./day. The numbers are still quite limited compared to what will be needed to serve a mass makrket, but then FCEVs aren’t a mass market as yet (and may never be). Scale up can only lower costs, but until such time as FCVs prove themselves (or fail to do so, as the case may be) in the market, everyone’s being fairly cautious – rightly so, IMO. California and some countries are willing to take a chance on H2/FCEVs as a potential method to a transition to fossil-fuel-free transportation, along with BEVs, bio-fuels and what have you, but no one knows yet which will win, or if they will all find their niche. We’re bound to waste money along the way (Ecotality in general, and the large number of Chargepoint and other L2 installations wasted at fast food joints and similar poor locations being examples), but it makes no sense to close off any options with a reasonable chance of success at this point. $20 million/year for up to 10 years for H2 stations is chicken feed, and dwarfed by what we’ve spent to date on… Read more »

We finally got an answer to: “Which came first the Chicken or the egg”

The Chicken(Toyota) laid a rotten egg(Mirai) and blamed it on the pig(unfriendly refueling stations)

Without going into the pros and cons of FCEV, given the long range and fast refueling time of the vehicle, 10-20 well-placed stations will easily be enough to cover a small number of Mirai drivers living in CA metro areas. Of course longer trips will require some careful route planning, but that is also true of a Tesla.

Yeah, but you can drive the Tesla across the continental US. Can’t do that with the Mirai. Can’t even go too far from fueling stations, unless you want a tow truck ride home.

Obviously the Tesla charger network is further along. But there are still plenty of areas in the continental US that are not easily reachable with a Tesla.

Not true. It just takes a bit longer to travel in areas where there are no Superchargers. A Model S can recharge anywhere that a 110v outlet is within reach of an extension cord.

Contrariwise, hydrogen fueled cars can not be driven out of a very few, very restricted areas.

Without fueling/charging infrastructure, no cars can be driven anywhere. If the demand for H2 is there, the infrastructure will be provided, just as it was for ICEs.

Sure, and Ray Liotta will handle full serv:

Toyota is covered, success or failure, since when the parallel infrastructure buildout program fails, they can say “I told you so” like an ********.

Charging 200 miles of range at a 110V outlet takes more than 60 hours. That’s not practical.

Except that the “fast refueling time” has not proven itself so far. Since that is the only advantage the car has, why bother?

Toyota has demonstrated that the refueling time for the Mirai is 3-5 minutes. So you get about 300 miles range in 5 minutes or about 60 miles/minute. That more than 10 times the rate of Tesla’s superchargers.

I think there might be more support for fuel cells if the cars weren’t so ugly. Musk knew the average Joe wasn’t going to drive around in a car that looks like it belongs in Judge Dredd. The Mirai is perhaps the ugliest car since the Pontiac Aztec, or most any car that Pontiac made in the ’90’s, and no broad base of support is going to develop around a stable full of ho-hum cars. We’d be in the same boat had the Leaf been the only EV option. So I don’t care if there are 100,000 fueling stations, fool cell makers will never get respect making buggies like the Mirai.

No argument there. Any new tech faces a strong headwind on introduction – Toyota raised it to storm if not hurricane force by making the Mirai so fugly. _I’ve said elsewhere that the general body lines remind me of a ’60s Rover sedan (saloon for the U.K. types), and that isn’t a compliment. All the front intakes at least serve a functional purpose, still . . .

At least the Tucson is normal looking if shorter-ranged, and the forthcoming Honda FCV, while no beauty, looks considerably better than the Mirai IMO.

Braben said:

“Toyota has demonstrated that the refueling time for the Mirai is 3-5 minutes.”

But in the real world, customers report it actually takes about 10 minutes. That is, if they don’t have to wait in line, and if the fueling station they depend on doesn’t close for weeks or even months. Plus, they have to hope the station has enough fuel to actually fill their tank, rather than limiting them to half a tank… which essentially doubles not only their filling time, but also the time it takes them to drive to the station and back.

Yes, in stations that weren’t designed for and weren’t required to deliver fast refueling times. The new stations now coming online are so designed and so required.

Oh, and the ‘half tank fills’ are due to some of the existing stations (which were all dem/val units) not having 700 bar capability, just 350 bar. The new stations all have 700 bar. Some of the stations that are out of service (including the ones which have been complained about for only providing half fills) are due to being upgraded to provide 700 bar capability to remedy that problem. It’s a pain, but that’s the price people pay for being ont he bleeding edge of a new tech – those waiting for QCs in their area for the past 4.5 years can relate. Here’s the status/design features/issues etc. of the existing 14 CA H2 stations as of January: Without quoting all the details, here’s the main findings in the Executive summary: “• Regarding the 14 Southern California hydrogen stations visited, no two had identical designs and installations. Only the stations in Riverside and Santa Monica were similar. • Most of the existing stations represent early generation design and technology. The operation of these stations has provided valuable lessons to technology developers, owners/operators, automakers, fuel cell vehicle drivers, first responders, code enforcement officials, and the public. These early generation… Read more »

So for every fuel cell car California contributes about 20,000 dollars to build a gas station for it…… sweet!

Piss off taxpayers with this one weird trick!

Better starting buildin’ stations, Toyota. They’re only a million bucks a pop..

…for a station which can only service a dozen or so cars per day…

The new stations can all handle more than a dozen/day. The Mirai is credited with about 5.0 kg capacity, the Tucson with 5.64 kg IIRR. Splitting the difference, that’s 5.32kg average capacity, but most people don’t wait until the tank is empty to refuel.
For the sake of argument, if you assume 4.5 kg/refueling, then the smallest new stations (100 kg./day) can handle 22 cars/day; 135 kg. stations can fuel 30/day; 180 kg. stations 40/day; and the 350kg. station 77/day. The companies all recognize that these numbers will be inadequate in the highest traffic locations if mass market acceptance is achieved, and have plans to scale up as needed.

$1 mil a pop? I read we (California) are putting up $200 million over the next 10 years and expect 120 stations. Higher level mathematics tells me that is over 1.6 million per station. If Toyota is indeed subsidizing them then it is probably closer to 2 mil per.

Just for context, California got NRG eVgo to put $120 million towards 200 QCs in a three year period, versus $20 million/year for a maximum of ten years for H2 stations. Some of the earlier QCs had a CHAdeMO only charger to which was later added a dual-standard charger, but the later ones have just a single dual-standard charger (only 1 car at a time). If you figure that each QC station can charge an average of 1.5 cars simultaneously (if at least one is CHAdeMO), then you have $120 million / 300 QCs, or $400k per QC.

You are doing some messed up math. Of the $120 million, $20 million went directly to ratepayer relief (aka rebates to utility bills).

That left $100 million to build 200 public fast-charging stations and another 10,000 plug-in units at 1,000 locations. The EVGo stations that NRG builds typically have two units (or is provisioned for two), one is a CHAdeMO and the other is CCS.

It’s pretty clear from various studies that a typical quick charger installation costs about $50-70k, so $400k a pop is obviously a hugely inflated number.

Yes, my bad. I made that distinction in another forum, but ran out of time to come back and do so here yesterday; sometimes life gets in the way.

IIRR, NRG doesn’t have to install 10,000 L2s, only make ready (i.e. install wiring and appropriate circuits to allow that to be done in future for most of them. Their QC sites are mixed; early ones had a single CHAdeMO + 1 L2 initially, then added a dual-standard QC, while later ones just have a single dual-standard QC + 1 L2.

Total amount going into the QCs seems to drop the price to perhaps $250k/station, which is still way high. If there’s any money left over, they’re supposed to use it to install more than 200 sites. Personally, with the exception of some areas/routes which have no coverage now, I’d much rather see them double up QCs at existing sites, because a single QC can’t be counted on to be both working and available. And eVgo knows that 50k isn’t fast enough for future generations of BEVs with bigger batteries, so they’ll need to upgrade in the near future.

I think it’s relatively safe to say that in the mid- to long-term, HFCVs will not fare well against BEVs. Everyone here can recite the arguments why, so I won’t bother.

So, once it’s clear that there will never be a huge number of HFCVs in the US, what happens to those refueling stations? Do they stay “in business” until the last Mirai (or whatever) within X miles is gone? That seems wildly unlikely. Far more probable is that little used stations will close, leaving some HFCV drivers with longer and longer drives to refuel. Think that could get ugly? I sure do.

This is yet another reason why I love driving a BEV: I’ve found out through experience over the last 2+ years that I don’t need public charging. More public charging is a good thing, as it promotes BEV use, of course, but I know that for my intended use of my Leaf I’ll never get stranded.

Given the growing number of reports of H2 fueling stations closed for weeks or even months, I’d say it’s more likely that existing stations were built with the idea of certain fleet owners or certain companies subsidizing the cost of fuel, but now with “fool cell” cars available for the general public to buy, those running the stations have chosen to close them rather than to start paying a lot more money to subsidize the cost of the fuel.

Or, to put it another way: If hydrogen fueling stations are actually going to be run at a profit, then the cost of fuel is going to be significantly higher than the already high cost it’s being sold at now.

What happens to those refueling stations? Do they “stay in business”?

Think positive: we pull copper through their hoses. See, it’s not money wasted!

67 MPGe is shameful. The Model S has the lowest MPGe at 86 or so, I think, while the Leaf is about 112 MPGe.

Toyota’s own Prius gets 45-55 MPG while needing no new infrastructure, and its operational costs are much lower due to the high price of the Mirai’s hydrogen, not to mention purchase price.

This vehicle will be Toyota’s low point.

With any luck, Toyota will use this as an excuse to say “See? The public doesn’t *want* hydrogen fuel cells!”

Do you really think that Toyota is not already planning to make that argument to CARB? I think that from the start, one of Toyota’s motives for building “fool cell” cars was to be able to point to poor sales as a reason CARB should roll back the ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mandate yet again.

Yeah, come out with a truly hideous looking vehicle, have no working charging stations, make it far worse than a hybrid, make no effort to make sure charging stations work they work before releasing, don’t build any infrastructure to make sure that things are good for their vehicles, and then claim hydrogen was not compelling to consumers. Beg government to change rules to make hybrids fulfill CARB requirements. Blame CARB not themselves. OK pretty cynical but what else is there left to believe? Besides hydrogen sucks for powering cars, does not help environment and they know it. If not, they need to wake up!

This ‘time-to-refuel’ straw man argument is ridiculous. EV owners refuel when the car is not being driven. Which in my case is around 22.5 hours a weekday and around 23.5 hours on a weekend-day.

Rent an ICE car or fly for long-distance stuff. Coast-to-coast travel in any private vehicle is not necessary. It’s basically a stunt at this point.

I recently went to Vegas from DFW and back. I only used 85c of electricity since I flew. I used an airport shuttle at the Vegas end. Where did I need infrastructure for H2 or EV? Only in my garage.

Wow. It’s even worse than we could ever have hoped for!

Quote of the week, right there. 😀

As long as Californians support all this nonsense, more power to ’em.

I think there are many leaving California since they don’t care for the high real estate prices, high taxes, and funding bone-headed projects like this. Hopefully speaking of the ‘Hydrogen Industry’, they’ll get discouraged before they go super – large.

THis is right up there with “Nuclear Powered Vacuum Cleaners” in common sense.

At least famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright only foresaw Nuclear Powered Elevators, which are somewhat dumb, but its better than vacuum cleaners.

$13,000 in government incentives???? Last time I checked the $8,000 Federal Tax Credit was canceled last year. The only government incentive is $5,000 from California. Toyota is taking $7,500 off MSRP for Trailblazers if purchased before the end of 2015.

Both Toyota and customers who buys these Hydrogen creations (are Insane)& no that is not a competitor to Tesla who knows where its at.

Hope they didn’t import too may as there are only so many car museums who can take them for non functioning display purposes.

People wishing to rip out the Hydrogen crap and retrofit with Plug in batteries ?
Any one ?