In the ever-evolving landscape of the automotive industry, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have faced significant challenges, particularly evident in the sales performance of the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo models in the United States.
Despite being available exclusively in California, the two models only managed to secure 2,737 (Mirai) and 241 (Nexo) sales in the entirety of 2023, contributing to a total of 2,968 hydrogen fuel cell cars sold in the USA.
The relatively low sales figures for these models can be attributed not only to the vehicles’ aging technology in comparison to electric vehicles but also to a critical lack of infrastructure.
As per data from H2stations.org, North America currently boasts only 100 hydrogen refueling stations, with 92 situated in the USA and a mere eight in Canada.
The concentration of 75 stations in California accentuates the regional nature of this infrastructure, while reports suggest that some stations faced operational challenges, leading to temporary closures.
The scarcity of refueling stations poses a unique challenge for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, particularly for private car owners who may experience detours to find an operational station.
This issue is exacerbated by reports of technical problems and fuel shortages at existing stations, as reported by InsideEVs in December.
Further impacting the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market is the notable decline in sales, particularly evident in the fourth quarter of 2023, as reported by the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership.
The data indicates a 72 per cent decline compared to the same period in 2022, potentially hindering the possibility of achieving a record-breaking sales year.
Notably, the decline is more pronounced in California, where hydrogen prices have surged to as much as $36 per kilogram at filling stations.
This sharp increase has led to an 80 per cent drop in Toyota Mirai sales in the state during the fourth quarter of 2023.
Internationally, the challenges persist, with Japan experiencing an 83 per cent decline in hydrogen car sales over the past two years.
In 2023, only 422 units were sold, indicating a waning interest in hydrogen fuel cell technology in a market that once showed promise.
The hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market faces a complex set of challenges ranging from infrastructure inadequacies to waning consumer interest influenced by rising hydrogen prices.
As the electric vehicle market continues to grow, the future of hydrogen fuel cell cars hangs in the balance, awaiting significant advancements in both technology and infrastructure to regain momentum in the automotive industry.