It was adulation at aboriginal drive for Chris Schneider and his Honda Clarity.
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“This is the best advantageous automotive acquaintance I’ve anytime had and I’ve apprenticed lots of altered cartage with all kinds of technologies,” the 61-year-old said on a contempo Sunday morning while fueling up.
But Schneider was a aloof amount at the pump because his car does not run on gasoline and it’s not an electric abettor (EV) in allegation of a charge.
It’s a hydrogen ammunition corpuscle abettor and Schneider is bushing up at the abandoned abject in all of San Diego Canton that carries the ammunition to accumulate his car running. It’s amid on the arctic end of a Shell abject at the bend of Interstate 5 and Carmel Valley Road.
Since the bazaar for hydrogen-powered cars is in its infancy, there are abandoned about 3,000 ammunition corpuscle cartage on the road.
And back there are so few cars, there aren’t abounding fueling stations for them — 31 and counting so far beyond the state.
The stations that accept been congenital are concentrated in the Bay Breadth and in greater Los Angeles/Orange Canton breadth the citizenry and affairs ability of those corresponding populations are added acceptable to accommodate aboriginal adopters.
The absence of fueling stations in San Diego agency no car dealers in the canton advertise hydrogen ammunition corpuscle vehicles.
“It’s affectionate of a craven and the egg thing,” said Dale Snow, administrator of After Sales at Mossy Toyota in Pacific Beach.
The hydrogen ammunition corpuscle Hyundai Tuscon. on affectation at the San Diego International Car Show, Dec. 31, 2016.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune )
That agency abeyant buyers of hydrogen-powered cars who alive in the San Diego breadth accept to be appealing motivated — and allegation drive to Honda, Toyota and Hyundai dealers in Orange Canton — to buy or charter them.
There’s no exact amount on how abounding San Diego Country motorists drive hydrogen cars. Lawrence Kopp, a bartering absolute acreage abettor whose appointment is in Solana Beach, drives a Toyota Mirai and estimated that he’s one of beneath than 20 Mirai owners in the area.
“At the time, I thought, this is affectionate of neat,” Kopp said. “Nobody is activity to accept this car.”
The accompaniment government is authoritative an advance in hydrogen ammunition corpuscle stations to the tune of $20 actor a year and boosters of the technology affiance San Diego and added regions of the accompaniment will anon acquisition an on-ramp.
“The cars are coming,” said Keith Malone, agent for the California Ammunition Corpuscle Partnership, a public-private affiliation based in West Sacramento accustomed to move ammunition corpuscle electric cartage afterpiece to market.
Hydrogen ammunition corpuscle cartage run on aeroembolism hydrogen fed into a ammunition corpuscle “stack” that produces electricity. Combined with oxygen pulled from the air, the motor propels the vehicle.
The cars’ backers say they amalgamate the best of centralized agitation and constituent electric vehicles.
A affectation assuming the apparatus of the Mirai, the hydrogen ammunition corpuscle car that alleged Toyota dealers in California action for auction and lease.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune )
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Like EVs, they run agilely and aftermath no greenhouse gases. Their abandoned emissions? A few drops of baptize that appear out of the cars’ tailpipes.
And while it can booty hours to absolutely allegation an electric car, hydrogen ammunition corpuscle cartage can ample up in about 3 to 5 account — aloof a bit best than it takes to ammunition a car or barter with gasoline.
The cars additionally avowal EPA ratings of bigger than 300 afar per fill-up.
Toyota, Hyundai and Honda accept taken the aboriginal advance and the Asian automakers are rolling out their fleets of U.S. cars carefully in California, breadth the accompaniment Legislature has anesthetized bills aimed at badly abbreviation greenhouse gas emissions.
“California has a huge abject of buyers, so it makes faculty from a aggregate angle because of how abounding cartage are awash here,” said Jeremy Acevedo, appraisement and industry analyst for Edmunds.com. “On top of that, you accept a abject of buyers that are accurate to be actual acceptant to addition ammunition vehicles. California has been arch the way.”
The California Activity Commission (CEC) has a ambition of amalgam at atomic 100 hydrogen stations beyond the accompaniment by 2020.
Earlier this month, the Activity Commission formally proposed abacus a additional abject in the San Diego breadth — in Mission Hills. A CEC agent said the ambition date for the new abject to accessible is aboriginal 2019.
In August, automakers who are associates of the Ammunition Corpuscle Affiliation recommended four added locations in San Diego Canton for stations, including one at the airport.
That would be acceptable account for Kopp.
While he compared the ride of his Mirai to that of a Lexus — “it’s absolutely bland and quiet,” he said — Kopp said a big affair is accepting aloof one fueling abject in the county, abnormally back his home in San Marcos is 35 account from the Carmel Valley station.
“You accept to plan about things,” Kopp said. “OK, do I allegation fuel, do I allegation to go out of my way? Aftermost anniversary I had to go aces up a acquaintance in the Sabre Springs breadth but I had to drive 15 account to Carmel Valley to go ample up.”
Kopp additionally complained he is not accepting the 312-mile ambit per fill-up he accepted from the Mirai. He’s leasing the car for $536 a ages and, as an allurement offered by Toyota, gets $15,000 in chargeless hydrogen ammunition during the advance of the three-year lease.
Schneider, the Clarity owner, runs a Honda dealership in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He frequently visits his babe in Solana Beach and busy his car in February from a banker in Irvine. He pays $369 a ages for three years and additionally accustomed $15,000 in a ammunition cards.
Instead of gasoline, the pump dispenses aeroembolism hydrogen and rather than gallons the ammunition is abstinent in kilograms. “Welcome to the metric system,” Schneider said on his contempo ammunition stop. It took 4.7 kilograms to ample up his Clarity, advancing to $78.32.
Schneider said the $15,000 in chargeless ammunition should awning him for the breadth of the lease.
He has taken his car to the Lake Tahoe breadth (there’s a hydrogen fueling abject in Truckee) and into axial California (where a abject in Coalinga opened in April 2016).
Click actuality to see a map of the hydrogen fueling stations in California
The hydrogen ammunition corpuscle Toyota Mirai on affectation at the San Diego International Car Show aftermost year.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune )
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“To be able to refuel in beneath than bristles minutes, you know, that’s aloof not accomplishable” with array electric vehicles, Schneider said. “Hydrogen is absolutely the best band-aid at the moment.”
Elon Musk would disagree. He’s a acrid analyzer of hydrogen ammunition corpuscle cartage — although Musk is hardly a aloof eyewitness since, as co-founder of EV-maker Tesla Motors, his cars attempt in a battling auto technology.
Musk has alleged hydrogen cars “fool cells” and “mind-boggingly stupid,” accusatory that application hydrogen to abundance activity is beneath able than application electricity to allegation batteries.
Since the assembly of hydrogen generally involves accustomed gas, some critics of ammunition corpuscle technology say it is not as apple-pie as it has been billed. While accustomed gas burns abundant cleaner than, say, coal, gas is still a deposit fuel.
Malone of the Ammunition Corpuscle Affiliation says announcement hydrogen cars does will not appear at the amount of a growing EV market.
“We accept in both pathways,” Malone said. “Both accept their strengths and both accept their challenges. Sadly, I’m generally pulled into what I alarm ‘EV Death Match’ conversations … We are not an existential blackmail to array electrics.”
Transportation accounts for about 35 percent to 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Gov. Jerry Brown wants 1.5 actor zero-emission cartage on California’s highways by 2025 and Mary Nichols, the arch of the California Air Resources Board, wants 100 percent of new cartage awash in the accompaniment to accommodated zero-emission standards by 2030.
Clean activity vehicles, however, still accomplish up a baby allotment of the California auto market.
Roughly 2 actor new centralized agitation cars and trucks are awash anniversary year in California.
There are 341,200 constituent or electric cartage in the state, accounting for beneath than 5 percent of California’s bazaar share.
The 3,000 hydrogen-fueled cars represent an alike tinier subset. And that amount accounts for around the absolute U.S., back the accompaniment — for now — is the abandoned abode breadth consumers can buy them.
“It’s important to accumulate in angle we’re architecture article new,” Malone said, pointing out that Toyota did not barrage the Mirai in California until backward 2015.
Some car dealers accept been accused of council barter abroad from clean-energy vehicles, abnormally in the accomplished three years in which falling gasoline prices accept led to a billow in sales of light-duty trucks and SUVs.
But at Mossy Toyota, Snow said he’s acquisitive to become the aboriginal dealership in San Diego to action hydrogen ammunition corpuscle vehicles.
“I anticipate this car will fly off the shelf,” Snow said. “These technologies, not abandoned are they economical to drive but from a account director’s standpoint they are acutely accessible to service. They crave actual little aliment so your aliment costs on the abettor are lower. I mean, they’re bullet-proof.”
Hydrogen ammunition corpuscle cartage are big-ticket — the sticker amount on a new Mirai is $57,500 — but, like EVs, they appear with banking incentives.
While California gives battery-electric cars a abatement of $2,500 the accompaniment offers $5,000 for those who buy or charter hydrogen cars. In addition, while the accompaniment afresh placed abatement restrictions on advantageous earners who buy or charter electric cartage those restrictions do not administer to hydrogen ammunition corpuscle vehicles.
And like hybrids and battery-powered electrics, owners of hydrogen ammunition corpuscle cartage accept those much-desired stickers that acquiesce them to drive in the HOV lane, alike if traveling alone.
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The federal government acclimated to action tax credits of up to $8,000 but the allurement asleep at the end of 2016.
Since 2010, California has spent $449 actor on customer rebates abandoned to addition sales of zero-emission vehicles.
The California Public Utilities Commission has already OK’d $197 actor for the state’s big three investor-owned utilities in the accompaniment — including San Diego Gas & Electric — to assemble EV charging stations and addition $1 billion are beneath review.
Developing a hydrogen ammunition corpuscle fueling arrangement of 100 stations by 2024 has been estimated to amount $225 actor (with allocations advancing to about $20 actor per year) and associates of the Ammunition Corpuscle Affiliation are alive on a action that would see 500 to 1,000 hydrogen stations erected beyond California.
Should the accompaniment policymakers alike be in the hydrogen ammunition corpuscle business?
“It’s acrimonious winners to the ultimate degree,” said Adrian Moore, carnality admiral of action at the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, which advocates free-market bread-and-butter policies. “What do they apperceive about what approaching technology is activity to be? How abounding of them predicted corpuscle phones? … California has a awful clue almanac at throwing money at apple-pie activity projects.”
Malone said analysis from UC Irvine estimates a arrangement of 100 hydrogen ammunition stations would beggarly about bisected of the drivers in California would be aural 10 account of any station.
“Some say 100 stations isn’t a lot,” Malone said. “Just to accumulate some things in perspective, California has 9,000 gas stations. And of those 9,000 gas stations, abandoned 1,800 of them are accouterment 50 percent of the fuel” for the state’s gasoline-powered cars and trucks.
Schneider, whose dealership in Wisconsin appearance avant-garde ammunition vehicles, sees a approaching breadth EVs and hydrogen ammunition corpuscle cars coexist — conceivably aural the aforementioned car.
“A array electric abettor that had a hydrogen catchbasin for advancement would be article that would be absolutely nice,” Schneider said.
That’s what Mercedes-Benz admiral assume to accept in mind. The German auto maker afresh appear affairs to advertise a GLC F-Cell SUV in the U.S. by backward 2019 that it promises will be “the world’s aboriginal electric abettor with fuel-cell/battery powertrain.”
South Korean automaker Hyundai already has a fuel-cell adaptation of its accepted Tucson SUV accessible at alleged California dealers.
BMW has affairs to cycle out hydrogen models as aboriginal as 2021 and GM and Honda beforehand this year appear a collective adventure to aftermath avant-garde hydrogen ammunition corpuscle systems at a branch in Michigan.
But no country seems added committed to the approaching of hydrogen ammunition corpuscle cars than Japan.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country wants 40,000 hydrogen cartage on its anchorage by 2020 and 900 fueling stations installed by 2030 — the aforementioned year it wants the stations to become profitable.
Government subsidies for hydrogen-fueled cartage in Japan are accepted to expire about 2020.
Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics and the government wants to use the amateur to advance ammunition corpuscle technology, with athletes apprenticed to venues in hydrogen-powered buses or cars such as a Clarity or a Mirai.
By the way, the chat “mirai” is Japanese for “future.”
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