TodaySeptember 20, 2021

CARB officials race hydrogen highway

Toyota’s Zero Emissions Vehicle Mirai fuel cell hydrogen

CARB – California Air Resources Board – Chair Mary Nichols, along with California Energy Commissioner Janea Scott and GO-Biz Deputy Director of Zero Emissions Vehicle Infrastructure Tyson Eckerle, led a caravan of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) through the San Joaquin Valley from Santa Monica to Sacramento to highlight the cars’ range and ability to travel and refuel from Southern to Northern California. Each official drove a Toyota Mirai or Hyundai Tucson FCEV.

The Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle combines hydrogen and oxygen to make electricity onboard while emitting nothing but water vapor. It has the highest EPA estimated driving range rating of any zero-emission electric vehicle on the market, at 312 miles and offers an EPA estimated 67 mpge city/highway/combined.

California customers can request a Mirai. Production of the Mirai is limited and vehicles will be placed with select, eligible customers. After placing a request, potential Mirai drivers will be contacted directly by a Toyota representative to discuss ownership and next steps.

MSRP will be $57,500 plus an $835 destination fee. In order to recognize our trailblazing customers who are participating in automotive history, a select group of qualified customers will be eligible for a Mirai Trailblazer support program. This program is designed to enhance the purchase and ownership experience by providing the following choices:

Trailblazer APR Support: 0% for 60 months + $7,500 or
Trailblazer Purchase Support of $7,500 , or
Trailblazer Lease: $499 per month for 36 months, $3,649 due at signing

Next: California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols talks about AB32 and AB8

California hydrogen highway with Mary Nichols

“In an effort to put my money where my mouth is, I’ve become an early adopter of electric vehicles and just recently extended my range with a new fuel cell electric vehicle,” CARB Chair Mary Nichols said. “Thanks to California’s hydrogen infrastructure investments, my Toyota Mirai FCEV can get me anywhere I need to go.” She added that “this rally puts the network to the test and gives us a fun opportunity to highlight those hydrogen-powered cars are essential to meeting our climate goals and a crucial tool in the state’s effort to clean up our air — especially in the Central Valley.”

California leads the nation in developing fueling stations, with 15 retail stations open now and over 30 more in development. It’s a long way away from where California thought it would be in 2004 The California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuels and Vehicle Technology Program is providing cost-sharing for an initial network of at least 100 stations through 2023 by investing up to $20 million each year for stations located where customers driving fuel cell electric vehicles live, work and travel. About $100 million has been invested to date to support the construction, operation, and maintenance of 49 hydrogen refueling stations, including a mobile refueler.

Some facts from California Air Resources Board CARB:


* There are more than 300 fuel cell electric vehicles on the road in California today
* ARB staff projects 6,650 fuel cell electric vehicles will be registered in the state in 2017 and 10,500 in 2018
* As of April 2016, California has 15 retail hydrogen fueling stations, all opened since June 2015
* Six future retail stations have finished construction and are in the final development stages
* Six additional future retail stations are under construction
* up to 51 open retail stations will be in place in 2017

When phase one of the True Zero Network is complete, the CO2 reductions could be equivalent to planting a forest nearly the size of San Francisco

“In the past, the lack of a fueling network kept fuel-cell vehicles off the road, and has been hampering activity in recent years,” explained Joel Ewanick, chief executive officer of Irvine-based FirstElement Fuel. “Soon, a shortstop for a four-minute charge of True Zero hydrogen will enable drivers of all-electric fuel-cell cars to confidently get to their destination without the worry of range anxiety.”

The first 15 True Zero stations were brought online at an unprecedented speed and scale throughout Silicon Valley, the greater Los Angeles area, the Lake Tahoe area, and Harris Ranch in the San Joaquin Valley. An additional four stations are expected to be online by year’s end.

The projects are being funded in large part by grants from the California Energy Commission, South Coast AQMD, and Bay Area AQMD, as well as partnerships with automotive firms Toyota and Honda who are the first to market with fuel-cell electric vehicles. This network gives confidence to the hydrogen community that the industry can quickly bring online the required stations to meet the demand and timing of the OEM’s.

“We owe a special thanks to the State of California and to the automakers committed to fuel-cell vehicles for their persistence and support,” said Ewanick. “It goes well beyond the financial assistance; the technical assistance has also been critical. We knew building out this network was going to be challenging. Having completed 15 stations in 18 months is an unprecedented achievement.”

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.