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ARB report: 1,600 fuel cell vehicles in California, 29 stations active; need to accelerate station deployment

18 August 2017

As of 5 April 2017, California has more than 1,600 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) with active registrations with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), according to the 2017 issue of its Annual Evaluation of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment and Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development released by the California Air Resources Board (ARB). This represents a net addition of 1,300 FCEVs (1,600 currently registered vs. 331 at the same time last year.

The report also identified 29 currently Open-Retail hydrogen fueling stations from as far south as San Diego, to the coastline in Santa Barbara, and as far to the northeast as Truckee. This represents an increase of 9 fueling stations since June 2016.

In addition to pre-commercial FCEV models, there are now three commercial-era production models on California’s roads, with at least three more expected in the near future.

ARB projects that a total of 13,400 FCEVs will be driving in California by 2020, and 37,400 by 2023. These projections represent slower growth than in earlier estimates (37,400 FCEVs are now projected on-the-road in 2023, compared to the previous estimate of 34,300 by 2021), but it is ARB’s understanding and estimation that they are largely in reaction to missed projections for the pace of hydrogen fueling station development.

Current and projected on-road FCEV populations and comparison to previously collected and reported projections. Source: ARB. Click to enlarge.

ARB expects continued expansion of the fueling market, and corresponding growth in deployed FCEVs, to continue throughout the rest of 2017 and beyond. The total number of Open-Retail stations may increase to 34 by the end of this year. The stations that may open between now and the close of the year will expand fueling coverage in the San Francisco Bay Area, communities surrounding Torrance, and within the counties of Riverside and San Bernardino.

In addition, the Energy Commission’s February 2017 announcement of proposed awards for 16 new stations will both expand coverage and build redundancy in many major first adopter markets across the state.

There is much to celebrate about these accomplishments, but there is also a renewed sense of urgency among stakeholders in the hydrogen and FCEV industries. Infrastructure development and FCEV deployment rates are mutually dependent on one another; slower-than-expected growth in the hydrogen fueling network may lead to delays in FCEV deployment. For this reason, although the last year has seen tremendous growth in the on-the-road FCEV population, auto manufacturer feedback to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) indicates more limited future FCEV deployment plans than previously reported, at least until hydrogen station network development can accelerate.

… Accelerated station development through the remainder of the AB 8 program may re-energize these vehicle deployment projections.

—“Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment and Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development”

Projected hydrogen demand and fueling capacity, given business as usual assumptions in state incentive programs. Source: ARB. Click to enlarge.

ARB further notes that the state’s hydrogen network may face a shortage in hydrogen production capacity, especially for hydrogen produced in-state and with large contributions from renewable resources. The report finds that industry stakeholders are increasingly sharing the expressed desires of their customers to make the greatest environmental impact possible by choosing to drive an FCEV. Continued adoption of the vehicles may rely critically on ensuring the availability of renewably-sourced hydrogen at a reasonable, competitive market-driven price.

Incentives such as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard may help build industry interest in establishing new hydrogen production facilities in California, especially for low-carbon production methods, ARB suggests.

Even with reduced vehicle projections, local and network-wide hydrogen fueling capacity are still expected to become a cause for concern around 2021 under business-as-usual station network growth assumptions. Additionally, the revised projection for network growth anticipates 94 stations by the end of 2023, if the State were to proceed at the current pace with the current station capabilities. The 100 stations referenced in AB 8 would be funded by this time, with some stations remaining in development at least through the bill’s expiration date of January 1, 2024. GFO 15-605 resulted in meaningful advances, with much larger stations than previously awarded becoming a new standard. GFO 15-605 also implemented enforcement of critical milestones for awarded stations (pre-application meetings with authorities having jurisdiction for permitting and appropriate entities for granting site control) to ensure faster and more successful station development than previously exhibited.

Additional methods to maintain momentum and further accelerate overall station network growth rate may still be necessary, possibly through implementation of new funding structure(s) as appropriate to match the fully commercial phase of today’s hydrogen fueling and FCEV markets. A new business-as-usual case, with more stations funded per year due to decreasing costs and build times, may become apparent through future analyses such as the upcoming 2017 Joint Agency Staff Report. ARB recommends that the State agencies currently working toward this goal work closely with station developers to identify an appropriate resolution.

—“Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment and Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development”

August 18, 2017 in Fuel Cells, Hydrogen, Hydrogen Production, Infrastructure | Permalink | Comments (33)


A hand to California for the five time (5X) increase in the number of FCEVs in one year. It is an accomplishment.

The number of H2 stations is also growing fast but not fast enough to keep up with FCEV's fast growing fleet. It will have to multily by 5X and more to supply acceptable service level.

FCEVs manufacturers (Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and others) and existing H2 firms will have to find ways to install many more H2 stations. States + Cities should help to accelerate the installation of the first 2000 H2 stations.

Harvey: "FCEVs fast growing fleet"

Manufacturer own estimates from original post indicate less than 45k FCVs by 2022, five years from now.

Porsche has announced 800v charging that will provide a 15 minute charge time. And of course, for most people, overnight charging at 2kW, about 6 miles per hour of charge, will satisfy all in-town travel requirements.

In five years there will be at least 5 million EVs on the road in the US. By that time, solar and overnight time of use rates will make EV fuel about $0.05 per kW, 1.5 cents per mile, equiv to about $0.37 per gallon gas.

That is going to be a really hard act to follow.

The troll is back.

Funnily enough, you don't have a hot line to God and your inevitable triumph is more doubtful by the day.

Not only is your poster boy Tesla now down to issuing debt, living off its credit cards, but there is no chance of long range BEVs being fully competitive using current batter chemistry.

You might be better occupied taking remedial arithmetic 101 than trolling hydrogen threads on someone else's forum.

What time you can spare from posting hagiographies of a con-man and his company on your own site that is.

A child could see through what is going on, but not you, of course,

Don't worry, when it blows up, I will be there to remind you that your contribution to the electrification of transport has been not only worthless, but actively damaging.

Deep breath there Davemart. Those meds are wearing off. Keep this up and you might start believing your own drivel.

Just calling out delusional arrogance, ECI is pompous.


It is not I who spends time trolling other people's forums on one subject to spread negativity and propaganda.

ECI has a whole forum to show he has no idea of what journalism consists of, and to run as a fan site and propaganda organ.

Man. you guys are harsh on ECI.

My opinion is that he's much less irritating than gorr.

gorr has his issues.

He does not hide behind a corporate identity and have the ill manners to troll other sites though.

Disgustingly unprofessional and personally lacking in any hint of standards.

The fast that he is also near innumerate and and an obsessional fanatic with no hint of judgement is beside the point.

It is not what he says, although that is daft beyond belief and the product of a childish lack of understanding, but the trolling of another forum by the owner or whatever he is of another, and that to post on one subject only in a propaganda offensive which is nauseating and accounts for the treatment I give the profoundly silly little man.

Brent, I disagree. gorr's comments are dumb, but people like eci/change/lad are far more irritating.

Hydrogen makes a good fuel for airplanes and sea-going ships. I think BEVs will win the battle over FCEVs, relegating them to a niche market. The momentum for BEV is there now and one by one the legacy car makers are finally announcing their EVs while only the die hards remain hanging on to hydrogen.


You guys keep huffing that H2 and the few thousand vehicles that will be on roads around the world by 2020 while there are literally millions of BEVs. But hey, don't let a small thing like reality bother you.


Good Man Dave:
LOL, Back on topic, and a good comment...

Lad stated: "I think BEVs will win the battle over FCEVs, relegating them to a niche market."

The competition is NOT between BEV vs FCEV, for they both are niche-markets, catering toward different consumer preferences.
1) Those who want maximum power and performance and don't mind plugging-in will choose long-range BEV's.
2) Those who don't want to have to plug-in, or who don't have access to a plug would rather have FCEV's.

The more ZEV choices we can provide the consumers with, the faster ZEV's will grow. It should be a cooperative effort between BEV supporters and FCEV supporters, NOT antagonism.

An advertisement for a FCEV may get people looking at ZEV's in general and comparing different types. Many ZEV shoppers will end up buying Teslas instead of FCEV's after looking at many FCEV's on the market, and vice-versa.

Lad, Dave D:

You guys have a valid view which I happen to disagree with.

No problems at all about that, that is what a discussion site is all about.

You do not though have ownership or heavy involvement in another site and troll hydrogen threads on another, any more than I troll sites knocking Tesla on every thread, even though I think it a disastrous mess which will end in ruin.

It is the sheer ill-manners of whoever the individual who hides behind a corporate identity as ECI and his utter want of professionalism which draws the response I give.

If FCEVs and H2 stations keep growing at 500%/year rate, sales may get closer to extended range (500 KM) BEVs sometime during the next decade, specially in areas with harsh winters and for larger vehicles.

Existing and near future long range very quick refill FCEVs cannot and should never be compared with existing short range slow charge BEVs.

In reality, even existing extended range but slow charge BEVs, like the ($100+ K) TESLA S100 is not a fair comparison either, until future 800 Volts 400+ KW ultra quick charging facilities become available.

My viewpoint is also contentious. I've argued here many times that plug-in hybrid EVs reduce fuel/energy consumption and emissions MORE than both BEV and FCEV tech. But you'll all just laugh and poke fun at my argument - that the most pertinent question to answer is how to reduce the unsustainable amount of driving, flying, trucking and shipping. PHEVs offer more incentives to drive less, to walk, bike and use transit more, to promote photovoltiac solar and biofuels (including hydrogen), to complement regional utility grids, to reduce household energy consumption moreso than either BEV and FCEV tech.

Wow....This explains why I see so few sales/registration numbers for FCEVs. These numbers are beyond bad. They are embarrassingly dismal.

I have to call BS on the suggestion or inference that the refueling infrastructure has been holding FCEVs back in California. 29 stations is enough to have over 9,000 square miles within 10 miles of a station. Even if the placement were poorly coordinated you could easily cover 35-45% of CA's population. That means 4-5% of the nation's population or 600,000-800,000 worth of new cars purchased per year. If these vehicles were moderately attractive you would expect sales in the range of 5K-10K cars per year.

29 stations to accommodate 1,600 vehicles that on average refuel once per week means the stations need to accommodate an average of fewer than 8 vehicles per day. Most of these stations are supposed to be able to handle that in about half a half an hour.

Gasbag you are a dark horse and hold your powder and cards dry and close.
For sure I would describe myself as aspirational if too ready 'opinionater'.
The question of realisable expectations vs top down dictate of how reality MUST be needs sensitive handling if the object is convincing thru rational persuasion.
Always good to hear the reality check prioritised.
WTF post away!

Small, lighter, lower cost FCs will soon be mass produced in automated facilities. Automation will increase quality, durability and efficiency. With less labour, mass production will move back in higher cost countries like USA, EU, UK, Japan, Canada, Australia etc.

Those improved (but powerful and more efficient) units will be very compact and occupy less space and cost/weight about 10% of equivalent batteries.

H2 price will come down to under $3.50/Kg when made in larger facilities using surplus/excess REs and free water. Local pipelines (and H2 trucks) will be used to move H2 to multile distribution points around every major facility.

Character attacks do nothing to persuade anyone of the viability of hydrogen as a transportation fuel source, Davemart. They won't dissuade me from posting my comments and viewpoint along with everyone else, either.

If hydrogen developers can manage to reduce the price of vehicles, fuel distribution, dispensing and fuel to levels competitive with electricity, they'll have a market. If they can't, it will be just another technological cul-de-sac and the cars will get scrapped before the end of their service life because the fueling infrastructure will get dismantled just like it did a decade and a half ago.

45k FCVs is not enough to bring the retail cost of H2 down to $3.50/kg, according to DOE studies.

Agree with you that 45K FCEVs are no where enough to bring H2 price down.

Something like 1+M FCEVs or 5+M combo extended range hybrids
batteries (10 to 30 KW) + small FC (40 to 60 KW) could get it started?

It takes about $1 of natural gas to make 1 kg of hydrogen. I think they might be able to sell H2 below $10 per kg at some point.

A hydrogen station capable of dispensing 300 kg/day at a 70% utilization factor costs about $3,000,000. What do you suppose the margin needs to be per kilogram to keep the payback period to 5 years, including financing on the capex?

The initial cost of large H2 stations is getting closer to $1M than $3M.

Small local distribution stations, connected to main stations with pipelines, would cost a mere fraction and would reduce payback period for the main feed H2 station by a factor of 5 to 10, specially where FCEVs fleet is growing fast.

Main H2 stations could feed up to 10 smaller secondary stations with short pipelines and/or H2 trucks

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