Running out of the most abundant element in the universe could be a problem.
America, or more specifically California, is the world leader when it comes to fuel cell vehicles. Of the approximately 6,500 FCVs sold globally since 2013, more than half reside in the Golden State, The market leader in this admittedly small pool is currently Toyota's Mirai, the remaining FCV fleet is made up of a handful of cars like the Honda Clarity and Hyundai Tucson, however the market is growing and they will soon be joined by the upcoming Hyundai Nexo.
According to Green Car Reports, these early adopters were met with a somewhat worrying sign stuck to a hydrogen pump in Los Angeles last week. Twitter user 'Paulo NonVTEC Acoba' posted the sign on Twitter which warned Toyota Mirai owners that hydrogen delivery issues were being experienced across the state and they should top up at every opportunity to avoid running dry.
In a statement sent to Green Car Reports, Toyota said that it is aware of the hydrogen shortage and were in the process of resolving the issue which has since been identified as a problem with the chemical provider, Air Products. In an email regarding the issue, spokesman Arthur George told GCR that they hope to have the issue resolved by early August. Not ideal but these teething issues are best dealt with before FCVs start being produced in any significant numbers. Deployment of refueling stations has slipped below projections too and as of April this year only 33 had been installed around Los Angeles and San Francisco. As with EVs, the biggest hurdle in convincing customers to move to these cleaner alternatives is the coverage and reliability of the recharging infrastructure.
In the meantime, while it is unclear whether Toyota will provide affected Mirai owners with a rental car while things are being resolved, they did mention that they were working with customers to identify alternative fuelling options. One such plan was to make their commercial hydrogen fuelling station temporarily available for customers. Whether Honda and Hyundai FCV owners could use these facilities too was not mentioned. Here's hoping that this shortage is just a temporary setback and that the lessons learned result in a more reliable Hydrogen supply network for the future. After all, while it may be a tricky business storing the stuff, Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the entire universe.