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California added 1,300 fuel cell hydrogen vehicles over the last year – projections lowered again

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its latest annual evaluation of “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment and Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development” report today.

The assessment shows that about 1,300 new fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have been deployed on California’s roadways between June of 2016 and April 2017, based on the latest active registrations reported by DMV.

While it appears to be an insignificant number of vehicles, especially when you compare them to battery-powered vehicles being adopted at 20 times the rate in the state, it’s actually a big increase for fuel cell hydrogen vehicles since there were only 331 registered in the prior period.

It now brings the total to just over 1,600 vehicles. That’s between only 3 models made available by manufacturers (Hyundai Tuscon FC, Honda Clarity FC, and Toyota Mirai) though manufacturers are planning on releasing 4 more in the next few years.

Those vehicles are often more expensive than their battery-powered counterparts and more difficult to refuel with only 29 active refueling stations in the state and fewer outside the state

(C)ARB’s Clean Vehicle Rebate program’s $5,000 incentive, which represents twice the normal incentive for battery-powered vehicles, combined with the ZEV credits given to the manufacturer, is helping reduce the entry price. Yet the technology is hard to sell.

California is now lowering the projections for the adoption of the technology:

“ARB projects that a total of 13,400 FCEVs will be driving in California by 2020, and 37,400 by 2023. These projections are later than prior reported estimates (37,400 FCEVs are now projected on-the-road in 2023, compared to the previous estimate of 34,300 by 2021),”

That’s compared to the 300,000 EVs on California roads today.

Here’s ARB’s report in full:

[scribd id=356831181 key=key-OWRTWaPmbzjjCIhCMaFn mode=scroll]

Electrek’s Take

The question remains: when are they going to give up? They keep lowering their projections as the hydrogen supply chain stays inefficient compared to battery-powered EVs and the grid delivery. Furthermore,  there’s no reason to believe that those latest projections will not be lowered again.

As we have often explained before, the entire end-to-end process from production to consumption is 3x times more energy efficient for battery-powered vehicles than hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Only a handful of automakers are still betting on the technology over batteries for their zero-emission vehicle programs.

What is it going to take to make it clear battery is the way to go? Or, is there a use case for Hydrogen perhaps in long haul trucking? Let us know in the comment section below.

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