True Zero hydrogen fueling pump, run by First Element Fuels, opened in Thousand Oaks, CA, Mar 2018
Hydrogen fuel first went on sale in California in January 2015, more than three years ago, though it had been dispensed free at a dozen or so prototype locations before that.
Five years ago, the state set a goal of 100 hydrogen fueling stations throughout the state by 2020, a deadline that now appears unlikely to be met.
On Friday, the state's 33rd hydrogen fueling station opened.
The new location, operated by First Element Fuel, is in Thousand Oaks, a suburb northwest of Los Angeles in Ventura County.
Open 24 hours a day, the new hydrogen station is located right on a main transit artery, Thousand Oaks Boulevard.
The hydrogen pump—labeled with the "True Zero" branding adopted two years ago by First Element—is located on the same island as a conventional Union 76 gasoline pump.
2018 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell at hydrogen fueling station [photo: Chris Baccus
California's plans for opening hydrogen fueling stations were detailed in January 2015 by Bob Carter, Toyota's senior vice president for automotive operations.
The Toyota Mirai, launched as a 2016 model, is the world's highest-selling hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to date. Through the end of February, roughly 3,300 had been delivered in the U.S.
By the end of 2015, Carter said at a conference after the Detroit Auto Show, "20 refueling stations are scheduled to be opened throughout California, with 28 additional stations set to come online by the end of 2016."
That would be a total of 48 stations by December 2016. The opening of the state's 33rd station shows the slip in the schedule set three years ago.
2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, 2016 Toyota Mirai at hydrogen fueling station, Fountain Valley, CA
All 33 retail hydrogen stations are located in California; the Department of Energy's Alternative Fuel Data Center also lists an additional eight sites that are not open to the public.
The automakers that offer hydrogen-powered vehicles—so far only Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota—do so largely on three-year leases that provide considerable free fuel to lessees, who must live in specific areas of the state and live or work near fueling stations.
In addition to the 3,300 Toyota Mirais delivered through February, a further 760 Honda Clarity Fuel Cells sedans have been leased, along with less than 150 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell crossover utility vehicles.
The 2019 Hyundai Nexo dedicated fuel-cell SUV is expected to become available for lease by drivers in limited regions of California by the end of this year.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article implied that the Toyota Mirai could only be leased. As several readers pointed out, it can also be purchased outright. We have updated the article and apologize for the error.