Californian Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicle Owners: Refueling Stations Frequently Inoperative

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Originally published on EV Obsession.

With the rollout of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and refueling stations in California kicking off, it’s perhaps a bit unsurprising that new issues have continued to arise. Perhaps most notably, many refueling stations have apparently been regularly inoperable for long periods of time, for weeks or even months at a time.

Considering that there is very limited refueling infrastructure out there right now, the issue is unsurprisingly getting some folks irritated. After all, if you’re spending a fair amount of money to lease a vehicle, you’d expect to be able to use it, would you not?

hydrogen fuel celll electric vehicles (FCEV)

Even when functioning properly, many of these new stations can only refuel 1-2 cars before needing an hour or so of preparation to refuel again — and many stations can only refuel to half-full owing to lack of capacity, according to some reports.

Green Car Reports provides some more coverage:

Early lessee Paul Berkman of Corona del Mar, for one, is frustrated. He’s paying $500 a month for a vehicle he hasn’t been able to drive for five weeks, because all three hydrogen stations within 20 minutes of his home or workplace have been down for more than a month.

Berkman told Green Car Reports that the closest station, five minutes away at a Shell site in Newport Beach, has been “struggling” — and that at best it can only fill his Tucson Fuel Cell to half capacity. Ten minutes away, a station by the University of California — Irvine campus has been closed for upgrades.

Other fuel-cell drivers, he said, told him that station “really suffered” from demand, with occasional lines of one or more drivers waiting for it to come up to pressure so they could refuel. And a model “tri-cycle” station in Fountain Valley, about 15 minutes from his home — which used methane from buried trash as a feedstock, lowering its carbon footprint — has now been shuttered for almost five months, he said.

Not a good look. Though, also not surprising considering the situation. There’s almost no market for FCEVs, and servicing it is a new thing. Battery-electric vehicle charging infrastructure wasn’t very widespread originally either. That said, one could always charge their electric car at home with a simple cord — something that can’t be done with a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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