Walking the Walk - Toyota to help kick-start hydrogen refueling station networks in New England and California

by Dan Miller
Nov/Dec 2014
Walking the Walk - Toyota to help kick-start hydrogen refueling station networks in New England and California
Chris Hostetter addresses perhaps the most vexing question posed by the innovative fuel cell-powered Mirai: Where will the first wave of owners go to fill up their vehicles?
“This issue has been seen for a long time as a cliché—the Catch-22, the chicken or the egg and the cart before the horse,” said Toyota Motor Sales’ group vice president of Strategic Planning. “But we developed this technology at huge expense and fully in house, not just because we could do it, but because we should do it. The same must be said about our commitment to do everything possible to kick-start the development of the refueling infrastructure.”
As previously announced, Toyota is investing in 19 hydrogen refueling stations to be built in California by energy provider FirstElement. This represents the first of what promises to be as many as 100 stations in the state by 2016, thanks in large part to more than $200 million of funding set aside by California Assembly Bill 8 and administered through the California Energy Commission.
To further support Mirai’s rollout, Hostetter said Toyota will partner with Air Liquide to develop 12 stations in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. These stations will be placed strategically to support fuel cell vehicle owners in the greater New York and Boston metro areas, as well as create the backbone for a hydrogen highway for the Northeast corridor.
Similar efforts are underway throughout the world in Denmark, Germany, Japan, Korea and the United Kingdom.
Hostetter emphasized that where each station is located will be far more important than how many are built. For example, an analysis conducted by the University of California at Irvine’s Advanced Power and Energy Program determined that only 68 well-placed sites in the San Francisco Bay area, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties could support 10,000 fuel cell vehicles. The model assumes that owners would want to reach a refueling station within six minutes.
“If every vehicle in California ran on hydrogen, we could meet refueling logistics with only 15 percent of the nearly 10,000 gasoline stations currently operating in the state,” said Hostetter. “Toyota is the only automaker that is walking this walk. We invite others to follow our lead and lend a financial hand to a program that will benefit all fuel cell customers, no matter the brand name on the hood.”
“We’re extremely excited about this unprecedented endeavor,” he concluded.
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