The small number of drivers with hydrogen fuel-cell cars in California are now able to purchase their fuel.
The Cal State L.A. Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility is now the first fueling station to sell hydrogen, rather than giving it away for free.
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It recently passed a state performance evaluation for certifying new hydrogen fueling stations--receiving a certification known as California Type Approval that allows it to sell hydrogen by the kilogram.
Until now, all hydrogen was provided to fuel-cell vehicle owners for free, because of the lack of an accurate metering system.
2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car, Newport Beach, CA, Nov 2014
In contrast to gasoline pumps--which have become more accurate thanks to the increased scrutiny brought on by thousands of transactions over the years--there hasn't been a need to accurately meter hydrogen because of the small number of vehicles on the road.
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Opened last May, the Cal State L.A. fueling station is capable of producing hydrogen onsite using renewable sources such as solar and wind power.
For now, it will serve the handful of California drivers leasing Hyundai Tucson Fuel crossovers, various prototype and test vehicles, and--soon--the first 2016 Toyota Mirai sedans.
While carmakers may still give away fuel for free to entice customers, the implementation of an accurate metering system comes just in time for a necessary hydrogen-fueling infrastructure buildup.
2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell at hydrogen fueling station, Fountain Valley, CA
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More stations will be needed to make fuel-cell cars a viable alternative to internal-combustion and battery-electrics.
A car isn't very useful if there's no place to fill it up, and there likely won't be many of those if carmakers and other entities have to continue giving fuel away for free.