California prides itself in having sustainable transportation. After all, companies like Tesla, along with plenty of other electric vehicle startups are headquartered in CA. Thus, it’s no surprise that California constantly innovates to find better alternatives for gasoline-powered vehicles.
Under the California Fuel Cell Partnership, the state government has partnered with private car manufacturers to lead such innovations. Specifically, the group has worked to foster the growth in a specialized electric vehicle market: hydrogen-powered vehicles.
How Do Hydrogen-Powered Cars Work?
Hydrogen-powered vehicles, unlike traditional ones, don’t require a battery to operate an electric motor. And instead of emitting hazardous air pollutants, hydrogen-powered vehicles’ only byproduct is water. This means the environment is free of carbon emissions coming from the vehicles.
So the only cause of concern is that hydrogen-powered vehicles require adequate refueling stations. Currently, there are only 39 locations where refueling stations exist. However, the California Fuel Cell Partnership plans to introduce 1000 stations by 2030.
Impact on the Economy
According to Andrew Martinez, a hydrogen program expert at the California Air Resources Board, “These [hydrogen-powered cars] are no longer vehicles where essentially every driver is hand-picked. These are vehicles that are getting to real customers on the real market.”
Martinez believes that the market for these cars exists for the average consumer and not just people with deep pockets.
In addition, Bill Elrick, an executive director at California Fuel Cell Partnership, mentioned: “We can achieve that vision of a self-sustaining market through the establishment of 1,000 hydrogen stations throughout the state to support up to, or even more than, 1 million fuel cell vehicles.”
In other words, Elrick believes that the market will jump-start itself with the addition of more fueling stations.
Future Plans for Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles
With the state currently dominated by battery-powered electric vehicles, people at fuel car companies hope that the market will expand and reach people once more fueling stations are built.
Currently, only 6,300 hydrogen-fueled cars operate within the state.
Although the two electric vehicle markets seem to be clashing, the steps towards achieving sustainability are growing even closer.
Surya is a writer for the Transportation section at The Rising and a Computer Science student at UC Santa Cruz.