Toyota is pulling out all the stops to try to sell the Mirai, even going so far as to truck in hydrogen filling stations, a recent Autoblog article notes. This is being done to fill the gap between the current infrastructure and the infrastructure that many hope will be built. That argument sounds plausible but has some serious holes in it. The detailed California map over at the California Fuel Cell Partnership shows 58 filling stations in California, which isn’t a lot for a state as large as California.
Unfortunately, that number is not correct. See… by default, the list includes private stations (that the general public cannot use!). Why they are listed is beyond me, but it does make the numbers look better. Even more concerning, the list includes stations that are “in development,” which is a nebulous term that indicates the station is in some stage of planning. It could have funding, it could not have funding. It might actually be built… it might not. Boiling off all of the maybes and what-ifs, we are left with 5 publicly accessible hydrogen filling stations… for the state. Take a look:
Including the stations that are in development is even a bit deceptive. On top of that, the balloons used to highlight the stations are deceptively large, making the coverage seem better than it is… but we still haven’t touched on the big story here. Let’s zoom out a bit and look at the whole nation. Per the US Department of Energy data, in the US today, there are (wait for it) 14 hydrogen fueling stations.
I’m not selling doom and gloom here, but I do strongly believe that it is important to step back from all of the marketing and the (temporary) availability improvements that show up when Toyota spends tons of cash to build and bring in fueling stations, and actually look at the current reality. The reality here is that coverage is terrible. Talk about range anxiety….
On top of that, the temporary filling stations can only fill tanks halfway. That means that instead of 300 miles of range, one would only get 150 or so miles per fill. That’s getting mighty close to some affordable EVs get today… and they can be charged at home in any garage or house in the US, not to mention at one of thousands of public chargers.
This latest entry into the saga that is the march of the fuel cell vehicle makes it clear that, while fuel cell vehicles may have their day on roads across the world, that day is still far, far away in the future….
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