Possibly you have had a chance to read our article about the new all electric DeLorean…sort of Back to the Future right. This discussion is about moving forward to the future and that is hydrogen cars. This article has a bunch of very informative and relevant links so by the time you do your deep dive here you may walk away with a degree in sustainability for transportation.
What is hydrogen?
Hydrogen is basically everywhere and in everything and contrary to a poor naming convention it is not a bomb, National Grid provides an excellent discussion about hydrogen and in particular “green” hydrogen production and use in vehicles. This site provides a terrific narrative and it should be mentioned that there are many “color” ratings of hydrogen.
The reason for this is because H2 can be made from many different things using many different methods. Some of these are good for the environment others are not. The color rating system lets you know how good it is for the environment, green being most ideal. Currently the majority of the hydrogen production comes from the production of oil and gas. However, technology is changing quickly and seems like every month some new company has the answer for green hydrogen production.
In a nutshell Hydrogen is a gas under standard temperature and pressure and is delivered as a gas compressed into a liquid. Because it is kept in liquid form in the car and while refueling this allows us to have the shorter re-fill times that we are accustomed to. Also this allows the cars to carry a more energy dense form of the fuel. More dense fuel allows tighter packaging of the fuel tanks so useable car space is not sacrificed while able to achieve good range in between fill ups.
How does a hydrogen fuel cell car work?
So how do they work? Let me share another site that the California Air Resources Board has that does an excellent job explaining the how and way these cars operate. Hydrogen cars are essentially hybrid electric cars with a big modification. They operate like a normal hybrid car however instead of a gas motor they have a Hydrogen fuel cell that charges and powers both the battery and motor. There no longer is a traditional “gas tank” but is now fuel tank of compressed hydrogen (yellow tubes in the below picture), which can be refilled in minuets.
The fuel cell combines the hydrogen and filtered air across a membrane that allows for a electrical differential to happen producing the wanted electricity. This electricity is used to power the electric motor and recharge the battery while only producing water in the end. On some cars like the Mirai you can actually see it dribble out on the road every now and then.
Hydrogen cars for sale
There presently a Toyota sedan Mirai and the Hyundai SUV NEXO both currently in production and have been for several years. The hydrogen vehicle is not a new offering. They have been available since 2014 and there are several legacy models that have been built and sold in the U.S., Europe and Asia. The increasing number of fueling stations has made these vehicles more attractive and as such the fuel cost continues to drop…yes, they have one in Fresno. For more information you can check out the manufactures website for the NEXO and 2022 Mirai.
How much does it cost to operate hydrogen cars?
What does it cost to operate these cars? For this we will simply use the 2022 Toyota Mirai as the example. The car is an electric vehicle that powered by a fuel cell system that uses hydrogen to generate electricity. Hydrogen is measured in kilograms and one kilogram is almost equal to a gallon of gasoline. The Mirai fuel tank holds five kilograms of hydrogen. The approximate miles per kilogram is 74. The range on a full tank is about 370 miles. To fuel the car takes somewhere between three to five minutes. Let ‘do some calculations as we did in our article “Is a Modest EV an Affordable Commuter Vehicle?”
First, we again make some assumptions. Here we assume that your commute is 20 miles one way and you make this trip five days a week for around 10,400 miles a year. A kilogram of hydrogen costs $16 dollars though the cost is coming down. So, here given the assumptions the annual cost for fuel would be about $2,248. While this compares pretty much with the clunker you gave your kid as a first car but do realize that you are contributing to saving our planet.
How much does it cost to buy a hydrogen car?
So what does it cost to buy a 2022 Mirai? The Toyota Miria price is about $55,000 and that does not include tax, license, and registration. Currently Toyota is providing a $17,0000 instant rebate. The State of California is currently providing a $4,500 rebate for hydrogen cars. These rebates are not subject to any tax that we know of. So here we are at $33,500 for the car again before taking into consideration the vehicle tax, license, and registration. There is last years federal tax credit of up to $8,000 which means your tax bill to the IRS can be reduced significantly. Now the Federal Government has not announced the potential tax credit for 2022 tax year but we expect something similar. And this would put your car well under $30,000.
There are a few more significant things to consider. First, you can get a 72 month zero percent financing loan from Toyota. Second, remember that you receive a six year $15,000 fuel purchase credit form Toyota. Finally, you get to drive all by yourself in the commute lane. Most of the dealerships are out of stock for 2022 Mirai’s. So you would need to make a $500 deposit now for new inventory arriving late this year.
Now, for the advanced tinkers let’s not stop yet. Your hydrogen ride can also power your home with a little work. So, to introduce you to Mike for somewhat elaborate discussion and demonstration of hydrogen production, storage and fuel cell capability. Buckle up!