Automakers continue to push into fuel-cell vehicles. But without sufficient infrastructure (fuel stations), I fear their adoption rates have little chance to catch up to battery-powered electric vehicles.
On the flip side, as more people purchase battery-powered electrical vehicles, power utilities will need to up their game and to provide power for these vehicles.
In California, the vehicles typically come with up to $10,000 in tax savings and a $15,000 fuel card, good for about three years of free hydrogen fuel, lessening the blow of a $60,000 pricetag. Compared to typical plug-in cars that travel about 100 to 370 miles on a single charge, hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles promise 300 to 400 miles per fill-up, similar to the highest-mileage gas-only cars.
But despite those selling points, hydrogen-fueled cars have long lagged behind their battery-electric counterparts in adoption, a gap that they appear increasingly unlikely to overcome. Although Tesla has helped drive widespread consumer adoption, along with easy ways to charge up at home and on the road, hydrogen-fueled vehicles haven’t made it past early buyers. With just 44 public fueling stations in California by January, the fleet has been persistently plagued by sparse coverage; the cars are also more expensive.
A review of U.S. Department of Energy data also showed that outside of California, the build-out of hydrogen refueling infrastructure stagnated over the past decade as electric vehicles rose. While there were 58 public and private hydrogen stations in the country in 2012, the number had grown to only 61 by the end of 2019 – as the share grew more and more concentrated in California, which doubled its network of stations over that time while states such as New York saw their hydrogen pumps close.
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