Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung has made a number of bold moves since he took the company’s reins late last year. He’s put more money into electric vehicles and orchestrated a deeper shift into the world of robotics. But another important part of his effort to transform the company from conventional carmaker to mobility giant involves embracing hydrogen-based technology. And on that front, the jury’s still out.
The experience of Song Young-jin shows just how tough it will be for Hyundai to succeed in a world increasingly embracing electric-battery-powered motors. The 38-year-old sales manager in Euiwang city bought a Hyundai Nexo, whose hydrogen-fuel-cell engine emits only water vapor, in March 2020. Wooed by Hyundai’s advertising, he felt a hydrogen car would be good for long commutes and better for the environment.
Here’s our third 2021 Toyota Mirai update in a nutshell: The car is great but the fueling is painful, and this month was more painful than most. Allow us to regale you with the story of what happened with our long-term hydrogen-fueled EV during a week we’re calling the Hydrogen Fuelpocalypse. Spoiler alert: We did not punch the yutz in the gray Mirai, but damn, did we come close.
As usual, when our Mirai’s range-remaining display showed 100 miles, we started to think about fueling up. Checking the Toyota app, we saw that most of the hydrogen stations in and around the Mirai’s home turf of the San Fernando Valley were either broken or out of fuel. No big deal; such glitches usually resolve themselves within a couple of days, hence our 100-mile threshold.
This time, though, things weren’t getting better. True Zero Mission Hills, a beautiful four-pump station that always seems to be broken, stayed offline. The somewhat reliable Studio City station kept going down. Hollywood fell, then Fairfax. Horrified, we realized what was happening: Working stations were being inundated by cars and either running out of fuel or dropping from the strain.
Geazone is a British Columbia (BC)-based courier company that provides delivery services, third party logistics and freight services to businesses and customers across Vancouver Island and Vancouver.
The 40 Toyota Miraifuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) they ordered are powered by hydrogen. The press release did not specify if Gearzone will be using Blue (ie. made with fossil fuels) or Green Hydrogen, which is much more difficult to source.
Geazone received rebates from the BC’s CleanBC Go Electric Hydrogen Fleet program, which offers fleet operators $8,000 to a maximum of 35% of selling price for the purchase of an FCEV to help B.C. businesses reduce emissions.
Hydrogen BC, the association championing British Columbia’s hydrogen industry, welcomes the announcement.
There are only four hydrogen fuelling stations in BC, with ‘several’ more planned. And that is a major problem for fuel cell electric vehicles. There is simply no infrastructure to support these vehicles. For example, California is the only US state where one can purchase a Toyota Mirai as there are not enough hydrogen fuelling stations in the rest of the US.
FCEV should be part of the solution to cleaning up the environment. At the moment they simply are not.
Global momentum towards zero-emissions has accelerated significantly in recent years. In spite of the global supply chain shortages, EV sales are on track for around 5.6 million units this year, up from 2.1 million in 2019, and 3.1 million in 2020.
Bloomberg’s Zero-Emission Vehicles Factbook notes, the “global clean road transport market” will be worth around $244 billion this year. The report was released simultaneously with a pledge by several leading automakers who collectively committed to sell around 40 million EVs per year by 2030.
Passenger electric vehicle sales are set to jump over 80% in 2021, to 5.6 million units, off the back of unprecedented industry and government commitments around the world over the last two years, according to the Zero-Emission Vehicles Factbook, a special report published today by BloombergNEF (BNEF), at the request of the U.K. COP26 Presidency and in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The Factbook documents the progress that has been made towards global net-zero emissions in the road transport sector, and shows that the future is brighter than ever for zero-emission vehicles. In the first half of 2021, sales of passenger electric vehicles (including battery electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles) were 140% higher than the same period in 2019, reaching 7% of global passenger vehicle sales. This compares with just 2.6% in 2019, the year of the last UN Climate Change Conference.
The total global fleet of passenger electric and fuel cell vehicles now totals nearly 13 million, of which 8.5 million are true zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), either battery electric or fuel cell (still, fuel cell vehicles account for a fraction of that total). The latter figure is up from just 4.6 million at the time of COP25. At the same time, by 1H 2021, the global fleet of zero-emission buses has increased by 22% since 2019, and we expect 18% of all municipal buses on the road to be zero-emission at the end of 2021.
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