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Hydrogen is Ridiculously Expensive, or Free - 2016 Toyota Mirai Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,059
edited September 2016 in Toyota
imageHydrogen is Ridiculously Expensive, or Free - 2016 Toyota Mirai Long-Term Road Test

We've been been recording the price of hydrogen every time we fill our 2016 Toyota Mirai, and the numbers are alarming at first glance.

Read the full story here


Comments

  • iamthestigiamthestig Philadelphia, PAPosts: 85
    edited August 2016
    Excellent write-up, Dan. Thanks. This brings an important dimension of alt-fuel cars to light. Assuming it remains expensive, I wonder how the price of hydrogen will impact the resale value of 3+ year-old Mirais...
  • Well-done and to the point. A vivid illustration of the costs to drive this technology. Thanks.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,961
    I've yet to read a good explanation of why it makes any sense to pursue hydrogen over a hybrid or a plugin hybrid. Sure, fill times are better than for an EV, but I think hybrids solve that problem, with a huge reduction in GHG.
  • gslippygslippy Posts: 514
    No infrastructure + high cost to operate + high vehicle cost + high complexity + poor cradle-to-grave energy consumption = no deal.

    Q: If greenies can't get behind H2, who can?
    A: Those governments Toyota and Hyundai can convince to subsidize this boondoggle.
  • Can't you just make your own hydrogen using electrolysis?

    I'm only half-joking...
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    I thought electrolysis was for hair removal.

    And if I tried to home brew my own hydrogen, I'm sure I'd be bald and beardless in short order. :D
  • "Something better-looking certainly will"

    First uttered when the original Prius was released. And look where we are now.
  • barich1barich1 Posts: 143
    edited August 2016

    "Something better-looking certainly will"

    First uttered when the original Prius was released. And look where we are now.

    There might not be better looking Priuses, but there are better looking hybrids. There is also a common factor here, come to think of it.
  • So you'd be crazy to buy as no one would buy a used one without the free h2 card.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,961
    They're only leasing them, right?
  • Can't you just make your own hydrogen using electrolysis?

    I'm only half-joking...

    It's very easy to generate hydrogen (all you need is water and DC electrical current), capturing it is a little more tricky (could be done with a glass jar, cleverly placed) - but it is inherently dangerous, it doesn't take much energy to make it go 'boom.'

    But to use the hydrogen, you run into the problem of compressing it and storing it - this is where you go from dangerous to downright stupid if you're trying it at home.

    Make sure you wear goggles!
  • Thank you! I've been waiting for confirmation of that analysis that I made earlier. Costs WILL (or would) drop, but I don't think it can drop too much due to high energy costs for raw fuel alone. It certainly makes electric vehicles seem so much smarter.
  • actualsizeactualsize Santa Ana, CaliforniaPosts: 451
    texases said:

    They're only leasing them, right?

    No, they're selling them, too. You still get the H2 card. And there are rebates and tax incentives.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • Excellent write-up - thank you! I'll re-iterate my other point again: EVs are 90-120 MPG-e, and H2 is only 67 rated. This is the next gen Prius territory. Or plug-in hybrid territory (e.g. my new Sonata Plug-in is 99 MPGe for 27 miles, and then 40 MPG after that... so first 50-60 miles is about 67 MPG average - and yes - I can cross lower 48 in it today). Big question is WHY we need H2 vehicles (even is hydrogen was dirt cheap) if we want more energy efficient transportation.
  • darthbimmerdarthbimmer Posts: 606
    edited September 2016
    Thanks for the eye-opener math lesson showing that hydrogen cars are a bad bet for the longer term. Once your free fuel card runs out in 3 years, there will need to be a 5x price change in the hydrogen market or you'll be killing yourself on operating costs.
  • ahightowerahightower TXPosts: 539
    Ouch.
    I love the earth as much as anyone else (well, maybe not, but I Don't Mess With Texas). The fact is, people with budgets and families still care WAY more about miles per dollar than we do about emissions.
  • actualsizeactualsize Santa Ana, CaliforniaPosts: 451
    edited September 2016

    Ouch.
    I love the earth as much as anyone else (well, maybe not, but I Don't Mess With Texas). The fact is, people with budgets and families still care WAY more about miles per dollar than we do about emissions.

    Exactly. And that's why I dislike mpg-e so much. I have a strong sense that people see high mpg-e numbers and start thinking in dollars and cents, but that's not what mpg-e represents. Buyers of EVs, plug-in hybrids, CNG cars and hydrogen fuel cell cars should never base their impressions of a vehicle's cost of operation on its mpg-e number because that figure is utterly useless as a cost yardstick.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • The same reason lies behind these three things:

    1. The high price of hydrogen.

    2. Its high variability between vendors.

    3. Tesla's expectation that it can profitably sell the Model 3 at a low price.

    It all depends on volume.

    1. With only a few hundred fuel cell vehicles being served by $40M worth of hydrogen stations today, their operating companies True Zero and Linde have to charge a lot. Expect the price to come down if and when the volume rises to thousands and then tens of thousands of fuel cell vehicles.

    2. One might expect prices to vary when volume varies, which is more acute at low volume. Normally competition in the marketplace would level that playing field, but in this case it is not the consumer paying but the car companies, who are motivated to keep all hydrogen vendors alive and therefore to pay what is fair rather than what is most competitive. In three years there will either be a much higher volume of fuel cell vehicles, allowing that market to become more like normal markets, or the whole hydrogen highway concept will have been seen to be an experiment that failed.

    3. Tesla has an enormous investment in its Nevada-based Gigafactory predicated on high volume of Model 3 sales. This is a bet-the-company move that will either make Tesla highly profitable or put it in a very bad position if the planned-for volume does not materialize due to a significant fraction of the roughly 400,000 who preordered asking for their $1,000 back. The effect of the latter could turn out like a run on the banks: heavy withdrawals may be seen as a bad sign encouraging yet more withdrawals, a positive feedback with negative consequences for the banks. It is therefore very much in Tesla's interest to not let such a run get started.
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