It is currently almost 14 times more expensive to drive a Toyota Mirai in California than a comparable Tesla battery-electric car after a massive hydrogen fuel price hike, according to calculations by Hydrogen Insight.
California’s largest H2 fuel retailer, True Zero, which operates 37 of the 53 hydrogen filling stations in the state, recently hiked the price of H2 at all its pumps to $36/kg, up from around $30/kg.
As recently as April 2021, it was charging just $13.14 per kilo.
At the new price, filling a Toyota Mirai’s 5.6kg tank would cost $201.60 — around $0.50 per mile, according to the Japanese auto maker’s claimed driving range of 400 miles (647km).
By way of comparison, fully charging a 60kWh Tesla Model 3 in California would cost $11.94, based on the latest average electricity prices. With an official range of 333 miles on a full battery, it therefore costs $0.036 per mile — almost 14 times cheaper than the Mirai, which is by far the most common fuel-cell car in the state.
And for Tesla owners with cheap overnight electricity rates at home, it would work out even cheaper.
The Tesla Model 3 — the biggest-selling electric vehicle in California — also costs a lot less to buy in the state than a Toyota Mirai. With federal and state incentives, the Model 3 is now available for $25,240 ($40,240 without incentives), compared to $49,500 for the Mirai — although Toyota also provides buyers with free hydrogen fuel up to the value of $15,000, paid via a fuel card, which has been a major selling point.
But True Zero’s price hike has not gone down well with drivers of the Mirai.
“At this rate, my $7k left in my gas card will be out early next year,” one driver wrote. “I’ve only had the car since last November... I’m just going to count my losses when the gas card is gone. Time to move on to full electric and charge for free at work.”
A third of True Zero’s hydrogen supply is green, but two thirds is made from unabated fossil gas. While fluctuations in the price of natural gas could have affected the cost of producing the H2, gas procurement prices in California have actually fallen dramatically from record highs around at the start of the year.
In a recent letter to True Zero customers, the company said the price rise was due to “continued cost pressure on the hydrogen supply chain and “low carbon credit values compared to historical levels”.
“We apologize for the inconvenience and remain committed to reducing the price of hydrogen as soon as feasible,” it added.
In November last year, the average hydrogen price at the pump in California was $21.28/kg — a 33% increase compared to $15.97/kg in July 2022.
According to alternative fuels website gplautogas.info, the average price of hydrogen at the pump in Germany is currently €13.85 ($14.78) per kg.
California is the only state in the US with publicly accessible hydrogen filling stations.
According to the California-based Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership, 17,284 fuel-cell cars have been sold or leased in the state to date.