Toyota’s commitment to fuel cell infrastructure in California -- timed to coincide with the launch of its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle as well as those of Honda and Hyundai -- includes a $7 million arms-length loan to FirstElement Fuel Inc. to help build refueling stations.
FirstElement, led by former General Motors marketing chief Joel Ewanick, is planning a network of hydrogen refueling stations across California by Fall 2015.
A Toyota study has calculated that it will take 68 refueling stations to meet the needs of 10,000 California fuel cell customers to not worry about being stranded. By the end of 2016, California should have 50 stations in operation, “which is a good step,” Lentz said.
He said most of the hydrogen fuel will have to be trucked in, initially, before self-generating hydrogen stations can become affordable.
“My hope is that other automakers will see our investment and will invest as well, so hopefully we can accelerate to 70 [stations] before 2018,” Lentz said. “Unlike hybrids when we were on our own, all the major players will be out there with us in fuel cells.”