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Auto Manufacturers: Hydrogen Cars Could Hit Roads by Next Year

The workshop at Toyota's Automobile Museum in Torrance was aimed at bringing fuel cell vehicle manufacturers together with elected, building, public safety and planning officials.

Tyson Eckerle, Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development, speaks to ABC News about the GoBiz Hydrogen Infrastructure Summit. Credit: Jon Didier
Tyson Eckerle, Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development, speaks to ABC News about the GoBiz Hydrogen Infrastructure Summit. Credit: Jon Didier

Originally posted at 6:28 p.m. April 14, 2014. Edited to add a photo. Edited to correct a City News Service reporting error.

Hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars may be ready to hit California roads by next year, and the ability to power them up at gas stations is also in the works, officials said today.

Three car manufacturers, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, have plans to sell the hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars by 2015 -- and Mercedes by 2017 -- but there are only nine active fueling stations in California, according to Rebecca Lee, a spokeswoman for Toyota.

There are plans to increase that number to 20 by next year, with 100 more shortly after that, Stephen Ellis, manager of fuel cell vehicle marketing for the American Honda Motor Co., said at a hydrogen vehicle workshop in Torrance.

"We're working on making California ready for these cars," Ellis said. "That includes working with the government, state of California, for a hydrogen station network."

The workshop at Toyota's Automobile Museum in Torrance was aimed at bringing fuel cell vehicle manufacturers together with elected, building, public safety and planning officials.

Under California's Zero Emission Vehicle standard, a certain percentage of auto sales have to be zero-emission vehicles. The require for 2014 is 1 percent of sales, moving to 16 percent of sales by 2015. Currently, electric vehicles are the only ones that are zero-emission.

Vehicle manufacturers are looking to hydrogen cars to help drive sales to reach the threshold. The estimated cost for a hydrogen fuel-cell powered car is about $50,000.

That price will go down once demand goes up and the infrastructure is in place, Ellis said.

"What we have is a public-private partnership between state government funding, automakers and people that provide hydrogen for industrial purposes to bring it together at your corner retail gas station," Ellis said. "Then people can drive the cars and drive all over California."

--City News Service


Joanna Clark April 15, 2014 at 01:24 PM
This is a great move forward, but alas, the first cars will no doubt have a sports car flavor, lacking the space for a wheel chair. Lets hope that Toyota brings out a FCV Prius V. The Prius V not only can carry four passengers COMFORTABLY, it has room for a wheel chair.
robin April 15, 2014 at 06:06 PM
50 grand for a car???? Think I will stick with my truck that's paid off, take the bus or ride a bike. Auto makers make it difficult for the average joe to buy one of these vehicles unless one is rich and famous. I remember a brand new car for less than 10 grand.
CLaude Todoroff April 17, 2014 at 06:25 AM
Are any of these models going to be called "Hindenburg"? There is a reason why Zeppelins, blimps etc. use helium instead of hydrogen. So how safe are these cars? I just hope the technology isn't rushed before these vehicles are ready for prime time. With the lack of facilities that will allow you to fill up with hydrogen it could be a while before these cars will take off. Are we talking about liquid hydrogen or what? A little bit more insight into the technology would have been interesting.
CLaude Todoroff April 17, 2014 at 06:31 AM
Robin, you are a youngster. I remember a new VW Beetle being advertised for $1,999 and VW had great advertisements in those days. One of my favorites was a Beetle floating in a pool and the announcer saying "The Beetle with definetly float but it won'd float indefinetly". It is rare nowadays to see clever commercials like that which is why we mute commercials or we fast forward the TIVO.
jeffwilliams April 19, 2014 at 11:53 AM
Video below of what is happening in California at municipal wastewater treatment plants using fuel cell technology to produce 3 value streams of electricity, hydrogen and heat all from a human waste! This is pretty impressive in my opinion for hydro-refueling infrastructure. "New fuel cell sewage gas station in Orange County, CA may be world's first" http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/orange_county&id=8310315 "It is here today and it is deployable today," said Tom Mutchler of Air Products and Chemicals Inc., a sponsor and developer of the project. 2.8MW fuel cell using biogas now operating; Largest PPA of its kind in North America http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/news-events/news-archive/2012/october/28-mw-fuel-cell-using-biogas-now-operating-largest-ppa-of-its-kind-in-north-america Microsoft Backs Away From Grid http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2012/11/20/microsoft-backs-away-slowly-from-the-grid/

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