LOS ANGELES -- Hydrogen fuel cell cars are beginning to trickle onto California's roads. True Zero wants to help automakers prepare for a more steady stream.
True Zero, of Irvine, Calif., is the consumer-facing brand of hydrogen filling stations owned by FirstElement Fuel, a startup headed by former GM and Hyundai marketing guru Joel Ewanick. And it's at the center of an effort by automakers and regulators to develop the infrastructure to support the growing number of fuel cell vehicles on the market.
Eighteen months ago, FirstElement announced plans to build 19 stations in California in 2015. Hurdles such as permitting and equipment issues have slowed that timeline, but not Ewanick's enthusiasm.
"These issues happen," Ewanick told Automotive News. "If we were opening a Starbucks we'd still have issues."
FirstElement has 13 True Zero stations in operation now, mostly clustered in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas. Ewanick hopes to have the rest of the 19 done by early next year. That would give True Zero a dominant share of the market in California; there are just six other retail hydrogen stations not owned by the company.