With Toyota having delivered a total of 57 Mirai sedan in October and November, the drivers of those hydrogen fuel-cell cars will be looking for stations at which to fuel their new zero-emission vehicles.
But the state of California's ambitious program to install dozens of hydrogen stations is running somewhat behind schedule. As of today, just four stations are open.
So Toyota is taking matters into its own hands, and providing portable hydrogen fueling units to six of the eight California dealers presently authorized to sell the Mirai.
DON'T MISS: Full-Retail Hydrogen Stations Now Coming Online In California (Oct 2015)
Craig Scott, director of Toyota's advanced technologies group, emphasizes that the company expects this to be a short-term measure.
He hopes the portable stations can be removed by "the middle of next year," he told Green Car Reports, and the company is "keeping our fingers crossed that it will be sooner rather than later."
The provision of portable hydrogen stations to Toyota dealers was first reported by Bloomberg about two weeks ago.
2016 Toyota Mirai - Quick Drive - Portland, July 2015 [photo: Doug Berger]
The stations in question are Air Products HF-150 Mobile Hydrogen Fueler trailers, which are centrally filled with hydrogen at the company's facility in Carson, California, and towed to the dealerships.
They provide hydrogen at a maximum pressure of 6600 psi, according to the spec sheet, and hold a maximum of 147 kilograms of the fuel.
The Mirai's hydrogen tanks will hold about 5 kg of fuel, but at a pressure of 10,000 psi, so the dealership fueling stations won't completely refill a Mirai to provide its rated 312 miles of range.
Scott said that the company expects that Mirai drivers won't arrive completely empty at the dealers, and the stations will be able to refill the cars to roughly half-full.
That works out to perhaps 1.7 kg of hydrogen per refill, allowing each station about 40 fills before it has to be resupplied.
While resupplying the dealers in Northern California may take a full day, he said, the Southern California Mirai dealers can have their stations turned around in a matter of hours.
Hydrogen station in Ebina City, Japan
Six of the eight Mirai dealers will locate the portable fuelers on some portion of their property, Scott explained. The other two chose not to take the stations due to space constraints in their facilities.
Unlike commercial hydrogen stations, Mirai drivers will not be able to fuel their own cars. Instead, a dealership employee will do the fueling for them.
Toyota will pay the cost of fuel itself, just as it does for Mirai drivers for the first three years. Dealerships are not being charged for the stations, Scott said.
As of today, four hydrogen stations in California are in retail service: Diamond Bar, West Sacramento, West Los Angeles, and UC-Irvine.
Two more, said Hartline, are now being tested and permitted opening "any day now"; those are in Coalinga and San Juan Capistrano.
Six now are now in construction, with a target of opening by the end of this year. Those are in Santa Monica, Riverside, Long Beach, South San Francisco, and San Jose.
2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, 2016 Toyota Mirai at hydrogen fueling station, Fountain Valley, CA
A total of 43 hydrogen stations are being permitted or planned for the state, according to the California Fuel-Cell Partnership.
That number does not include six earlier "demonstation" stations, whose operations have not been as reliable and which will need to be upgraded to refuel a Mirai fully.
Sales of the Toyota Mirai, the company says, are on target for a total of 1,000 units during the 2016 model year.
[hat tip: Joseph Dubeau]