Toyota Forced To Get Creative To Support Lacking Hydrogen Infrastructure For Mirai

DEC 18 2015 BY MARK KANE 96

Image Credit: InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney

Image Credit: InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney

Hydrogen fuel cell cars don’t have an easy life due to the scarce hydrogen infrastructure.

According to Bloomberg, some of the early trailblazing customers are now delaying purchase of the Toyota Mirai due to lack of infrastructure.

In the most hydrogen-friendly state, California, there are only 4 hydrogen stations open for retail, while another 6 are pilot demonstration sites not ready for commercial operation.

Toyota decided to use temporary mobile hydrogen stations from Air Products & Chemicals Inc. at Mirai dealerships but those are only half of the 70 MPa (approx. 10,000 psi) pressure – which means you can fill up only half of the 5.0 kg (11 lbs) of hydrogen and your range will be only half (156 of 312 EPA miles). Moreover, you need to visit it at least twice as often, but not all are optimally placed.

“Toyota Motor Corp. will supply temporary hydrogen stations to California dealerships selling its Mirai fuel-cell sedan as some buyers put off taking delivery of their cars until refueling infrastructure is set up.”

Mobile Hydrogen Fueler

Mobile Hydrogen Fueler

Air Products’s mobile hydrogen stations are equipped with batteries and solar power, according to Bloomberg. So, we believe that hydrogen is produced on site using electrolysis, but who knows – maybe they just call in a hydrogen truck (see video below)?

“With capacity for about 85 kilograms, they can supply hydrogen to about three dozen cars.”

“Dealers will keep the stations on their premises or nearby for as long as it takes for infrastructure to catch up…”

Here are specs for the Mobile Hydrogen Fueler:

Mobile Hydrogen Fueler

Mobile Hydrogen Fueler

Toyota’s hydrogen stations map indicating 4 retail sites and 8 mobile at dealerships.

Source: Bloomberg

Categories: Toyota

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96 Comments on "Toyota Forced To Get Creative To Support Lacking Hydrogen Infrastructure For Mirai"

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Soooo….I can buy a Leaf now with over 100 miles of range and easily top off every night in my garage…Or I could buy a Mirai and get towed to the dealership once a week to get a half fill.

No thanks 🙂

And be restricted to a radius of that dealers hydrogen pump, instead of a national network of chargers.

Sounds like RaNgE aNxIeTy.

1) The Volt made this concept obsolete.
2) Battery technology has rapidly advanced so that this “bridge” will never be built.

In CA where Mirai is sold, DCFC made it obsolete, not just Volt. Even iMiev doesn’t suffer range anxiety. In fact, even 3.3kW L2 only EV is better than FCEV.

Unfortunately, all $$ that could have gone to build more DCFC to support ~100k Californian EVs, went to support H2 stations that were’nt yet built, for a few hundred H2 cars that might not use them.

As a result, there’s still a 200+ mile gap in Northern Ca, and a 120-mile gap in Central Ca, preventing statewide travel for non-Tesla EVs even north-to-south, not to mention trying to go east.

Actually, we recently got a handful of (charge point) fast chargers in “the gap” !

A combination of SAE and Chademo, so we are getting there.

King City, Santa Ynez, Pismo Beach, Goleta, Ventura.

Santa Ynez

Actually, you could buy two Leafs, maybe three for the same price. Or you could get a base model Tesla Model-S.

DDDDDUUUUUUUU.Geeee….The Einstiens Finally Figured it 0ut…That was a Head Scratcher wasn’t it?? L M A 0 ….

What a sad joke and waste of taxpayer’s money.
Just who is going to buy a H2FC car that needs $14/gal/Kg fuel that is hard to get? Even if it was easy to get?
Hyundai couldn’t sell the few they made and some are parked because their H2 station is broken.
I’d bet Toyota doesn’t sell 10% of theirs and won’t even lease all the rest.
Simply because there are not that many fools out there.

Don’t worry, it’s not the taxpayers who are footing this bill, it’s Shell Oil and anyone else who wants to sell Natural Ga… er, I mean hydrogen, to the public.

Except that Shell receives tons of money from the government for “research” into things like this.

They are hiding the price for 3 years by offering free hydrogen so that isn’t an initial issue.

As for demand, I think you are underestimating fleets. Selling a couple hundred to fleets shouldn’t be too difficult. That’s what they are doing in Japan anyways.

Really, fleet’s don’t have qualified accountants?
Because, if you’re going to do a fleet purchase, you’d just go with natural gas vehicles. But, it’s still the same problem, range anxiety.

Even there, a true accountant would be able to figure out that Plain Jane Hybrids cost less, and have higher mpg then CNG or Hydrogen vehicles.

It’s literally a solution looking for stupid buyers.

Nevertheless, there were already about two dozen fleets of hydrogen-powered cars in the USA even before the recent promotion of “fool cell” vehicles began. I’ve never seen much info on those, but my last attempt to do Internet research indicated that at least some of those fleets were government-owned research projects. As such, the economics of such fleets doesn’t matter much. If you read up on the California Fuel Cell Partnership, you can see why Big Oil has formed an alliance with auto makers to promote H2 fuel. Obviously there is an advantage, from the perspective of Big Oil, in trying to divert attention and development money away from practical plug-in EVs, and promoting fuel cell vehicles is one way Big Oil is trying to do that. Exactly what Toyota gets out of it, I’m not sure. Surely the amount of money they get from carbon credits isn’t sufficient to justify the billions of dollars poured down the rathole of developing the Mirai? There is a political advantage to Toyota in making a show of supporting the Japanese government’s promotion of the “hydrogen highway”. But this does not appear to me to be sufficient to explain why Toyota’s press releases… Read more »
As your population density goes up, Hydrogen gets less idiotic, so I guess for Japan at least it’s a lot more feasible than it is here in the US. If you can’t charge at home, then Hydrogen is a much easier step to make from Gasoline than electric, and I’d wager a much higher percentage of people in Japan can’t charge at home than here in the states. Either way Hydrogen doesn’t make a ton of sense though. Most people without access to a garage or driveway with available electricity likely can’t afford a car like the Mirai, and by the time it’s affordable, strides in battery and charging technology (and hopefully laws requiring apartment complexes to accommodate EVs) may have made EVs feasible for such people. Honestly I think the Mirai is dead outside of Japan, but maybe succeeding in Japan will be enough for Toyota. Who knows? You’d think they’d have gone all in on EVs, with their experience making electric motors and the super efficient Prius. I don’t know how nice it would be drive, or how ugly it would be, but a pure EV Prius would likely have bested the range of just about anything else… Read more »

I’m talking about research, government, or PR fleets. They don’t care about financial viability.

In Japan, it’ll mainly be for the Olympics. By the time they are over, perhaps the cars will be dropped (just like the hydrogen buses for the Canadian Olympics), but currently the PR value is more important.

Holy crap what an utter boondoggle. The sad thing is EVERYBODY execept the persons directly involved in the decision making process predicted this. Even I, with no experience in the automotive industry or engineering whatsoever, could see that it would be economically unfeasible to install H2 fueling station at or even anywhere near the density of ordinary gas stations.

Let’s hope Toyota learns from this and reverses their decision to go with FCVs instead of EVs. So far they haven’t lost irrecoverable amounts of ground.

Yeah, well as everyone else in the marketplace has shown, it’s not *that* difficult to hook a battery to a motor with an electronic controller in between. Most of the automakers are already buying their batteries from some other provider anyway.

It does give one pause to reflect on how and why business mistakes of this magnitude come into being, and even more importantly are continued to be allowed to persist.

I don’t think anyone’s got the balls to tell the big boss that he’s stark raving mad! Easier to just do as you’re told, plus as it’ll take the next 10 years to get anywhere with H2 infrastructure and they’ve already had 10 years of development, there is actually a pretty decent career to be had in H2 at Toyota, at least until the penny finally drops.

Well certainly the Japanese business hierarchical structure has a great deal to do with it, as you suggest.

I highly doubt they get enough solar to electrolysize enough hydrogen for more than one car every few days. It might work right now but it won’t work if they sell a decent number of cars.

I would guess it’s just for the pumps. It’s more public relations than anything.


Deploying a solar panel at a mobile hydrogen dispensing “station”* is merely greenwashing. A solar cell array small enough to be portable couldn’t possibly provide enough energy, over the course of a day, to make a significant impact on the energy needed to generate even one single tank full of H2.

*Mobile station. Is that like jumbo shrimp? 😉

And it certainly wouldn’t be a residential rooftop type of operation. I really don’t want my neighbor dealing with highly pressurized hydrogen!

Bwahahahaha…hey, wait a second, my tax dollars are paying for this sh!t

What. A. Disaster.


Would have been A HUGE & More Massive Disaster If They Ever Made it 0nto the Streets…They’re Bombs On Wheels …

These are mobile refueling stations set up to operate without requiring outside power – batteries and PV solar are to run the compressors and controls. The article says 85 kg H2 capacity. It must be trucked in to the trailer’s H2 tank. To generate 85 kg via electrolysis would require about 4,600 kW-hrs of electrical power. You won’t get that with a small trailer-mounted battery + PV setup.

Fuel cell cars has to be plug ins in order to take a decent market share. With a decent sized battery for atleast 80 km (50 miles) of range the scarce hydrogen stations would be acceptable since they then dont need to be visited that often.

This. H2 will, at best, amount to a “last mile” of fossil replaced by non-fossil. Apart from less efficiently being made from natural gas, this is the only margin of improvement.

The solar paneled trucks are great for optics, and Toyota’s messaging.

If Toyota pays me $100M, I’d like a crack at opening a H fueling station (“a” as in one station). Since there won’t be any customers, it’ll just be rent for space, and no need to purchase any equipment.

I think Inside EVs posts this hydrogen stuff just so they can read the comments for entertainment value 🙂

lol Roy. I don’t think Ted has given into the madness. The rest of us have one or two H2 articles. Kane is responsible for the plethora of H2. Still we seem to participate.

InsideEVs editors have said that they were intentionally ignoring “fool cell” car news, but they received persistent complaints from readers about ignoring them. If the very loud but very few people who are apologists for the “hydrogen economy” in comments at InsideEVs are any indication, it’s only a small number of very persistent posters.

Such persistence in the face of actual facts, actual science, and actual economics, is an indication that such posters have hidden motives, either economic or political, or both. I’m not suggesting that all those still posting pro-hydrogen-fuel propaganda have an income dependent on Big Oil & Gas, but certainly some of them must.

Do you have any other conspiracy theories that you would like to share with us?

Hum.. would you prefer actual conspiracy fact and reality?
But then, I would just be a scam.
I believe it look like it anyway, but feel free to be the victim since obviously you isn’t it’s a easier for you to find any benefit from it.
Tell us when you’ll ride you’re HFCV and how economical and practical you find it is.

sven said:

“Do you have any other conspiracy theories that you would like to share with us?”

There are at least two other obvious possibilities, both which are even less complimentary to those dwindling few still claiming that “fool cell” cars are a good idea.

But hey, sven, if you want to claim that (for example) you’re actually crazy enough to believe your own pro-“hydrogen economy” propaganda, I certainly won’t argue with you. 😉

That’s why i’m here – hell, I didn’t even read the article!



Toyota foolishly believed the states would roll over and fund hydrogen stations.

If Toyota really believed in FCEVs, they’d fund the fueling stations themselves, like Tesla did.

If even California can’t get moving on H2, then this idea is dead. As I’ve said before, the Mirai will go down as the biggest flop in Toyota history.

Toyota has suffered a massive case of executive Groupthink on fuel cell cars. They are really the only ones pushing the fuel cell banner at this point.

Yeah, pretty much every car company has some type of back-burner fuel cell project but no one but Toyota is spending lots of money trying to push them onto the public.

Just as we thought.

Sad how many people don’t understand the issues with hydrogen as a material to store energy, the physical issues of converting, storing, pumping and all the associated actual costs (not just at the malfunctioning pump) — that SOMEONE is actually buying these greenwash machines.

Simply amazing.

Hydrogen will someday make a good, non-polluting fuel for airliners. The idea is to generate electricity from a fuel cell and use the electricity to power ducted electric fans. The design would include buffer batteries as a safety feature.

On the other hand, the hydrogen car is a money sink with no market future and should be allowed to die off.

When Tesla, produces their 200 mile range Model Three, BEVs will take off and the other car makers, like Nissan, Honda and Toyota, will follow.

I don’t know . . . the energy density might not be good enough.

I’ve seen a drawing of a proposed hydrogen airliner and it looked like one of those massive transporter aircraft. Superbloated to carry hydrogen.


Right, carrying hydrogen fuel would require far too much internal space for an airliner. That would leave far too little room for cargo or passengers for a commercially viable aircraft. Although hydrogen is often used as the fuel for the booster stage for a rocket — because it’s a very low weight fuel — it’s never used for the upper stages of a rocketship, where space is more important. It’s not used for the same reason it’s not appropriate as the fuel for an airliner. Airliners powered by aviation biofuel probably will be the last gasp of fuel-powered vehicles in common use. I question that electric drive can run an airliner at a competitive speed; airliners run at about 0.9 Mach. I doubt that a prop-driven plane can run at that speed without using ruinous inefficiency. Wikipedia’s “Fastest propeller-driven aircraft” article says: “The Tupolev Tu-114, a large aircraft with four turboprop engines, has a maximum speed of 870 km/h (540 mph, Mach 0.73).” There are some interesting designs for “hybrid” aircraft, such as the SUGAR Volt, which are intended to reduce fuel use by as much as 70 percent, but even in theory the maximum cruising speed of the SUGAR… Read more »

“Although hydrogen is often used as the fuel for the booster stage for a rocket — because it’s a very low weight fuel — it’s never used for the upper stages of a rocketship, where space is more important.”

Centaur is an upper stage booster and it uses hydrogen.

Interesting! Thanks for the correction.

In the future, I’ll try to remember to say “almost never…”

Is that a “hydro-plane”?


“…some of the early trailblazing customers are now delaying purchase of the Toyota Mirai due to lack of infrastructure.”

Only delaying, not canceling?

In other words: some of the fools considering buying a fool cell car are now delaying shooting themselves in the foot.

Do point of use renewable hydrogen by providing heat to electolysis from the compressors and powering it with wind contracts.

Take that idea and run with it.

I put ideas out there, the people with money can do them. Capitalism only works when capital is available.

This makes sense, as the only reason to release the Mirai so early is to catalyze public infrastructure. Toyota has overcome the chicken-and-egg problem by deciding to move first.

Kaiser said:

“…the only reason to release the Mirai so early…”

Whether it’s “early” or, in fact, quite late, is a matter of perspective. Auto makers have been spending R&D money on fuel cells about as long as they’ve been doing the same for EVs. Altho I don’t think we can point to any one single motive for Toyota to produce and heavily promote the Mirai and “fool cell” technology, it may well be that one motive is the company attempting to internally justify all the money they have wasted over the years on developing fuel cells.

Making and selling the Mirai may be the last gasp of a technology which has never had any hope of being competitive, and is now swiftly being made obsolete by relatively rapid advancements in BEV technology.

If your critique of a technology is reduced to confusing “fuel” with “fool”, you’re beginning to look a little desperate.

Not sure if he coined the expression, but Elon Musk famously uses this expression too when talking about fuel cells. And he does have an idea or two of engineering and the automotive industry … He has also often said that he looked at all the alternatives without bias before starting his company, and if H2 had been better than batteries he would have produced fuel cell cars.

Not half as desperate as Toyota is looking! MW

Kaiser said:

“If your critique of a technology is reduced to confusing ‘fuel’ with ‘fool’, you’re beginning to look a little desperate.

If you’re not familiar with the term “fool cell”, then I respectfully suggest you Google the term. Prepare to be surprised at the frequency of its use.

And it’s those who are promoting the “hydrogen highway” who are beginning to look more than a little desperate. This article details one example of why.

This only proves that Toyota laid an egg.

Toyota and Hyundai could put 100 fueling stations in southern California at a million each and not break a sweat.

So, why haven’t they?

Unlike Tesla the car makers are run by accountants.

Why would their accountants view such an infrastructure as nonviable? That will answer a lot of questions about the viability of hydrogen infrastructure overall.

One hundred years ago the car makers waited for Standard oil to build the refineries and stations. It was not immensely profitable to sell gas, but they did it anyway.

If they have to wait for someone else to do it because it’s not going to be profitable, then your comment was completely pointless, as that is essentially saying the automakers won’t be building the stations.

All I said is they COULD, that does not mean I think they will. But you like to argue.

I was assuming you wanted to make a useful point. If you weren’t, I’m going to clarify that so you don’t mislead other people.

Why pay for filling stations if you can sucker the government into building them?

You sound like the people who claim the large automakers can build a nationwide supercharger network without breaking a sweat.

The reality is that it isn’t so easy. The bean counters inside those companies have to approve such a project and that’s a big barrier even before the issues of building one are considered.

As a general rule*, legacy auto makers have no incentive to build an infrastructure to support plug-in EVs. It’s already the case that PEVs are at best only marginally profitable; certainly much less profitable than the average gasmobile, for legacy auto makers. If that wasn’t so, they’d build more of them.

Tesla is the only company making a significant gross profit on selling PEVs, and they are the only company with an incentive to build a nationwide or worldwide network of fast charging stations.

*The only exception I know of is that BMW has built some EV charge stations in China. That may well qualify as “The exception which proves the rule”.

According to their own advertisements, Toyota’s “mobile hydrogen stations” must be full of lemonade and bulls**t.

Toyota is a successful company with record profits and Tesla are looser fools.

Sour grapes.

And with the Internet at your fingertips, you manage to misspell the word “loser.”

Consider the irony.

Loose is the opposite of tight.
Lose is the opposite of win.
A loser is someone who did not win.
If something is looser, it is not as tight as something else.

What does Toyota’s profitability have to do with the Mirai? It’s a science project that has no line of sight on any form of profitability.

I can’t imagine how much Toyota is paying to truck in those portable hydrogen stations. It’s gotta be expensive.

How many of you FCEV advocates use hydrogen to power your own computers when writing these comments?

If you are not even taking that one little baby-step, then it’s safe to say that your computers are conveniently plugged-in, or fully charged to run on battery power.

And you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Well you could always buy one of these:

Too bad it’s useless and way more expensive than simply using a larger battery.

I doubt Toyota doesn’t have their own EV waiting in the wings. But until they promote EV’s I will not buy another Toyota product, I had two so far. Just replaced my Lexus IS with a 16 Volt.
I give my money to the leaders, GM and Nissan did something. Tesla does even more and I’ll get one eventually. As for Toyota, they should study Kodak more.

What we have more than we need: Renewable energy sources, and we are building infrastructure to capture that at an astounding pace. Brightens my dark mood(s) every time I think about it.. FF is DYING.

What we don’t have nearly enough of, Storage of renewable energy.

As batteries, ignoring their significant front-end expense, take a semi-trailer of space to provide 150 homes with electricity for four hours, it is not hard to see that renewable energy, stored in batteries, will be a logistical nightmare (size and output from an article on this site).

H2 attempts to solve that problem, nothing more, nothing less. Japan has, governmental, decided that they need to Severely reduce their dependence upon FF, wind can and may be their answer.

Thanks again, Mark, for a reasonably offered viewpoint. FCEVs are presently hurtin-for-certain, but EVs were a royal PITA for a while as well, some of us remember how far we’ve come, some obviously take it for granted. Would I BUY a Murry? Nope, but I sure appreciate the amazing effort and its benefit to an island nation(s).

I don’t care that “Linde” or “Air Products”, or whatever they’re calling themselves today is cashing in on some slight additional H2 sales.

If they really want to see a dearth of sales, just wait until the few customers they have actually have to pay the going rate for the fuel instead of it as a freebee.

A kilogram of hydrogen is made with $1 of natural gas. Honda has a natural gas to hydrogen device that sits in a corner of a garage. There is no reason WHY it has not been done other than the car makers are waiting for others to do it.

Super dubious.

Natural gas to H2 at home will be insanely expensive. You might as well figure out how to get your car to burn copper. Would be safer as well. 🙂

Look at the simplified marketing block diagram:

I’m reminded of Zapp Brannigan. “Damn you physics, you win again!”

Look up the Honda device, it has been done it can be done, that is the point.

Rube Goldberg showed many examples of how things could be done. But nobody in his right mind would do them in such an overly complex, extremely inefficient way.

Rather like hydrogen fuel, innit? Using electricity to generate then compress then re-compress (while dispensing) hydrogen, and using diesel powered trucks to move it around, losing energy at every step… instead of using electricity directly to efficiently charge batteries.

I think I’m reading the figures correctly. . . The details for the “Outline of Home Energy Station” claim an output of 2 cubic metres per hour at one atmosphere pressure.

By the time this is compressed to 10,000lbs/square inch, that’s surely not a great deal of usable hydrogen. I imagine the time taken to provide 9kgs of compressed hydrogen would be measured in days (or weeks!), not to mention the enormous energy input required.

All this obfuscation and it uses a fossil fuel as a starting point. In whose mind is this a forward step in sustainability?

The Honda “device” was a prototype made over ten years ago. There was never a retail version made or even planned.

I hope California dings hydrogen cars on ZEV credits for this. A hypothetical range shouldn’t get them the max 9 credits. Silliness. I charge my cars each night and have absolutely no need for 300 miles of range.

So how much gasoline do they burn hauling hydrogen around?

i wonder how a tesla battery swap station on wheels would look like.

Toyota sucks again, er I mean srikes again.
RIP Toyota, I wish your company a speedy demise for trying to fool idiots into buying into your Hydrogen lies. Your company wants to force us to remain fosil fuel slaves. No way will I be a part of your future nightmare.

And now tell us how you really feel about Toyota!

Looks like Toyota has landed itself in a Trouble Lane.

Hope they will install Hydrogen refueling stations good enough to give the car a 300 mile range. Lets see how the December sales of Mirai goes.

If Model-X also overtakes Mirai sales, then FCVs are in trouble. I don’t expect Toyota to accept defeat so easily.