Toyota bet big on hydrogen, launching itsfuel-cell vehicle in lieu of a battery electric car, but it’s running into a big problem: Not enough hydrogen fueling stations, especially on the East Coast.
While battery-electric charging stations are more and more ubiquitous, hydrogen refueling stations are few and far between. The Mirai is currently only available in California, where there are only 28 retail hydrogen stations. If you live on the East Coast, the number is a big fat zero.
The company hoped for 12 stations to be ready this summer but has amended that number to a mere 3 or 4 by the end of the year. Currently there two stations under construction, one in Providence, Rhode Island and the other in Hartford, Connecticut.
The four-passenger Mirai has two onboard hydrogen tanks feeding a 113-kilowatt electric motor. That’s enough to generate a respectable 247 pound-feet of torque. With a range of 312 miles and a refueling time of five minutes, the Mirai is quite appealing as a zero-emissions vehicle.
California has been able to jump-start its hydrogen infrastructure, thanks to political support from Governor Jerry Brown and California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols. Additionally, monetary grants have been provided to companies building refueling stations.
Although New York and Massachusetts have joined California in implementing stringent clean-air laws, there are currently no state grants to support hydrogen fueling stations. Developers have to negotiate the bureaucracy without the support of local government and local fire codes must be updated to account for any leaked gas that would dissipate in the air, as opposed to leaked gasoline which would pool on the ground.
Although Toyota sold just 708 Mirais in California during the first half of 2017, the company has plans to sell 30,000 a year globally in 2020. Toyota will begin selling the Mirai on the East Coast as soon as the first hydrogen station is operational.