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Japan’s hydrogen fuel cell stations begin to open, but are they worth the switch?

10 Comments

With Toyota’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV), Mirai, now available, many wait to see if this revolutionary car with take off or fall flat in Japan. On Dec 25, JX Nippon Oil & Energy began selling hydrogen for these new vehicles at a cost of 1,000 yen per kilogram.

So is that worth giving up the pumps for…whatever hydrogen comes out of?

Hybrid vs Hydrogen

Obviously fuel economy is a tricky thing to compare as any number of factors can effect it, from the engine to the driver’s technique to the amount of air in the tires and so on. Since the Mirai is a Toyota let’s keep the comparison in-house and match it against the company’s best-selling car of 2013 in Japan, the Aqua (AKA the Prius c in other countries).

By Japanese test standards, the Prius c gets 35 km/L. According to JX Nippon Oil & Energy rate for hydrogen filling up a Mirai would cost 4,300 yen which would power it for 650km. Equating a kilogram of hydrogen to a liter of gasoline and adding in sales tax this would give us fuel economy of 140km/L. That sounds great but we still have to factor in the cost of hydrogen compare to gasoline.

The bottom line

Putting these figures into monetary values a Mirai driven by hydrogen will get you 0.14km per one yen, whereas gasoline in a Prius c can carry you 0.25km/yen, based on the national average price of gas as of this writing (hydrogen’s price will be constant nationwide). It might be a little unfair to pit the Mirai against one of the most fuel-efficient cars out there, so for another comparison, a Honda Civic HF (non-hybrid) will go only 0.9km on one yen.

And then there’s the price of the car

So, the Mirai is sort of efficient in terms of money but gets beat out by hybrids rather easily. Added to that you have to consider the Mirai’s price tag of 7,236,000 yen, mercifully down from the 9 million-plus reported earlier. The fact that there is currently only one hydrogen filling station in the entire country that JX Nippon Oil & Energy supplies doesn’t help either. Their first hydrogen station opened in Ebina, Kanagawa on Christmas Day and 10 more in other parts of Japan are expected to have popped up by March.

Galapagos car?

Online, people are greeting the news with mixed feelings. Some are confident that the price of hydrogen and car will start to go down once the proper production and infrastructure is established. However, others feel this whole venture will prove to be a waste of time with one writing “They should call it the Japan-only Galapagos car,” referring to Japan’s once superior mobile phones and network which only allowed them to thrive inside their own country. These Galapagos phones, however, got swiftly taken down by the invasive species of smartphones.

Indeed it would seem the destiny of the Mirai and others like it rests in how well the infrastructure can get put into place. It would be a shame if the FCV didn’t catch on consider the benefits it has such as no CO2 emissions and no reliance on fossil fuels resulting in a (hopefully) more stable and (super-hopefully) lower fuel price.

Sources: Itai News, Yahoo! Japan News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Toyota’s New Aqua is Most Fuel-Efficient in the World, But is Not Green -- Honda readying a Fuel Cell Vehicle for buyers, just in time to challenge Toyota -- New king of hybrids: Honda’s new Fit Hybrid to boast a 85.6 mpg fuel efficiency level

© RocketNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


10 Comments
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Does it really matter if it a Japan-only Galapagos car?

As an owner in Japan they are not going to travel outside of the borders with the car anyways.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Seriously? 0.14km / yen (Mirai) 0.25km / yen (Prius C) 0.90km / yen (Civic) You think .14 km/y is better than 0.9 km/yen? Is it the metric system messing you up? (Or could that be yen / km?) (Editors, where are you?)

“The fact that there is currently only one hydrogen filling station in the entire country that JX Nippon Oil & Energy supplies doesn’t help either.” So what? JX Nippon Oil & Energy isn’t the only supplier. There are more filling stations already in play.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good points, Beaner. Following the sources, Rocket News carries the same mistakes, Itai has a tiny article, and whatever Yahoo!Japan had posted has been pulled. SamuraiBlue, another good point.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

With over 1,000 Mirai on order as of mid December, there will be a race to build the filling stations to service them.

Are they worth the switch? To what, your pocket, or to the environment? This article is about the family expenses.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The pour acceptance of this technology at the moment is based on the current price of oil. Oil is not going to linger at $50 a barrel indefinitely and once it goes up people will start considering it as an alternative since hydrogen is not limited in region that can be dug up like fossil fuel.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I certainly wouldn't say the reception is poor. (Especially not based on anything written here. Just spoke to friend in the industry. There are 40 fillings stations across the country as of today.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Toyota just swung the big ax announcing that they will offer the patent related to this technology for free up until 2020.

http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/article/EVENT/20150106/397240/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No, it is not. Early adopters are needed, but there will be hassles that aren't worth my time after paying much more for the base vehicle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my state of California, Hyundai has been offering hydrogen Tuscon SUV's as a 3 year lease for $499 a month since last year. This is quite affordable.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The pour acceptance of this technology at the moment is based on the current price of oil. Oil is not going to linger at $50 a barrel indefinitely and once it goes up people will start considering it as an alternative since hydrogen is not limited in region that can be dug up like fossil fuel.

Except that 95% of the world's hydrogen supply is produced using fossil fuels, and is not "carbon neutral". Since hydrogen is profuced from fossil fuels, it is no less region-specific than petroleum, except that it is harder to transport hydrogen than it is to transport gasoline or oil. Why else would JX, Japan's largest petroleum company, installing hydrogen stations?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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