There’s bad news for owners of hydrogen vehicles in California as one of the industry’s major players, Shell, has announced that it plans to permanently shut down every passenger vehicle hydrogen refueling station it operates in the state.
That leaves owners of vehicles like the Toyota Mirai, the Hyundai Nexo, and the upcoming Honda CR-V FCEV in the lurch, as the oil company operated seven of the 55 hydrogen stations in the state. Put another way, that’s around 12 percent of all refueling stations gone.
The oil company cited supply complications and “external market factors” for its decision, reports Hydrogen Insight. The decision follows Shell’s earlier move to “temporarily” shut down five of its refueling stations in 2023, which will now be closed permanently
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The closures also follow Shell’s September decision to cancel plans it had to open more hydrogen refueling stations in California. The oil giant had once said it would build 48 new stations across the state, but reversed course last year.
More recently, Shell has said that it plans to focus on heavy-duty vehicles, like transport trucks, when it comes to hydrogen refueling. Meanwhile, it plans to invest in EV charging technology for light-duty vehicles.
That reflects the growth in the new energy vehicle market. Just 3,143 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were registered in California in 2023, about 1 percent of the total of new electric vehicles registered in the same period.
While a lack of demand likely plays into Shell’s decision, it may not be the only factor. The company sources its equipment from a Norwegian company called Nel, which is currently facing a lawsuit from Japan’s Iwatani. The latter also operates charging stations and claims that the former’s equipment has major defects.
Whatever is behind the decision, it means fewer options for owners of hydrogen vehicles. In a statement to Carscoops, Toyota recommended that Mirai owners use tools like the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership website to find available stations.
“Toyota recognizes that certain Mirai customers in California may experience refueling challenges due to recent closures of hydrogen stations,” Toyota said. “We will continue to work with affected Mirai customers to help identify ways to address their concerns on a case-by-case basis. We remain committed to working with stakeholders to support California’s hydrogen refueling infrastructure now and into the future.”