Hydrogen-powered vehicle sales rose in California in 2023, but still less than 1% of zero-emission cars




Less than 100 FCEVs were sold per month in Q4 amid fuel supply crisis


California — the only market for fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in the US — saw 2,979 of the hydrogen-powered vehicles sold last year, according to figures released by public-private body the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership.


While this is a slight increase from 2022, when 2,707 FCEVs were sold, these numbers pale in comparison to battery-electric vehicles (BEVs).


The California New Car Dealers Association tracked 291,518 BEVs sold in the state in the first three-quarters of the year — with more than 100,000 sold in both Q2 and Q3 — representing more than a fifth of all cars sold over that period.


However, official figures for zero-emission vehicle registrations for the full year are not due to be released by the California Energy Commission until 31 January.


California also saw a slump in FCEV sales toward the end of the year, with less than 100 sold from October to December.


This drop in sales could reflect the state’s months-long H2 fuel supply crisis, which started in September and drove prices as high as $36/kg at the pump.


Hydrogen Insight calculated at the time that these price hikes meant that filling up a Toyota Mirai in California would be 14 times more expensive than fully charging an equivalent Tesla Model 3 EV.


At the end of September, half of the operational H2 refuelling sites in California were unavailable to drivers.


Data from the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership now shows that only a fifth of hydrogen filling stations are currently shuttered (11 out of 55).


FCEVs have struggled to take off in every major market they are sold except China, which saw a 72% year-on-year increase in sales in 2023.


Japan and South Korea both had half the FCEVs sales or registrations from the previous year, while Germany, the largest European market, saw a near-70% drop in annual sales.



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