Safety is a concern as hydrogen is flammable, but there are also gasoline and lithium ion batteries. Transport of hydrogen for use at gas stations provides additional safety risks – stations use sensors to monitor leaks. There have been no serious incidents reported in California, and the industry sector has transported hydrogen for decades.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, alternative fuel cars, a category containing both hydrogen fuel cell and battery powered electric, are no more dangerous than traditional internal combustion engines. NFPA's statistics show that about every 3 minutes there is a car fire in the United States from an internal combustion engine.
However, the biggest obstacle can cost.
The average hydrogen fuel price in California is about $ 1
Kelley Blue Book estimates annual fuel costs for the Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and Hyundai Nexo at $ 4,495, which is three to four times the cost of gas powered alternatives.
"We acknowledge that car manufacturers cannot continue to pay for fuel, and we see the point of getting there, but there is a volume game and We have to beat a critical mass," says Shane Stephens, chief responsible and chief development officer at FirstElement Fuel, who runs 19 Of the 39 hydrogen stations in California, developing 12 of the 25 additional stations for the state, the company's near-term goal is $ 10 / kg, which is about $ 4 / gallon. "It's a good, short-term acceptable number to hit those next three to five years, and getting people from automaker-subsidized fuel, "Stephens said.
The Biggest Problem: Cars stay expensive. For example, Nexo is the most expensive Hyundai on sale in the US, with a starting price of $ 59,345 (starting prices For the brand's similar size Santa Fe starts at $ 24,250. The Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity fuel cell models have a similar $ 59,000 MSRP, which are eligible for public discounts – in Califo rnia there is a discount of $ 5,000 available.
Leasing has been a popular consumer choice for fuel cell and battery powered cars because the technology is new and early adopters will not be bound to a current model for a long time as technology changes and efficiency improves.
As with any new technology, fuel cell costs should come down if the market grows and achieves economies of scale in production and infrastructure. "Honda has a long-term commitment to hydrogen, but you can't sell cars without infrastructure," Kumaratne said.
Stephens said that if the market could reach "a few hundred thousand cars" in California, it could be cost-competitive with gasoline. It represents a huge jump from the 6,000 cars sold so far, but most new car markets start with limited production routes. Toyota has said it plans to increase production from 3,000 Mirai units per year to 30,000 cars by 2021. "It's a 10-fold increase in size."
"Some hundred thousand cars in California aren't that far away. And that's just Toyota," Stephens said. "This is not about subsidizing the entire growth of the infrastructure, but just helping us get over the hump, and it's on the horizon. If we get to a few hundred thousand cars, we can really start selling state aid and being self-propelled. . "