Not ready to buy a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle yet? Would free fuel tip the balance? Both Hyundai and Toyota are offering free hydrogen fuel with their FCVs. According to Toyota, buyers of the new Mirai sedan will receive “complimentary hydrogen fuel for up to three years.”
While free fuel may indeed be an enticement for buyers (as Tesla and Nissan are betting), the real reason that hydrogen is being given away is that the industry has not yet developed a way to accurately charge buyers at the pump.
At a hydrogen seminar this week as part of the Mirai launch festivities, a panel of industry experts explained that current hydrogen stations are not set up to accurately measure the hydrogen that is dispensed.
“There are no set standards, so there is no way to charge people for anything,” said Toyota spokesman John Hanson.
Alberto Ayala of the California Air Resources Board said that the technical issues involved aren’t difficult, but simply haven’t been addressed yet. “If you think about it, it’s a real simple yet real practical challenge. If you’re going to pay for X amount of hydrogen, you’re actually getting that amount of hydrogen. We are at a point where we are solving multiple remaining questions, and that just happens to be one of them.”
Ole Hofelmann, the CEO of Air Liquide, which is working with Toyota to develop hydrogen stations in the US, told AutoblogGreen, “We need to make sure we accurately measure the gas. Afterwards, it needs to be calibrated so you have the tools in place that allow you to go back and make sure that every station is measuring things correctly.”
According to the panel, a solution should be in place within a year.