2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, 2016 Toyota Mirai at hydrogen fueling station, Fountain Valley, CA
The recently-passed Congressional transportation-funding bill contained many positives for electric-car advocates.
It included the renewal of a home-refueling tax credit that covers electric-car charging stations, a provision for installing charging stations at government facilities, and other relevant items.
And it seems there was an important provision for hydrogen fuel-cell cars as well.
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A tax credit for fuel-cell vehicles was given a short-term extension through the end of 2016, notes a Navigant Research blog post.
This appears to be the same credit that expired at the end of 2014.
It originally comprised a base-income tax credit of $4,000 for light-duty fuel-cell vehicles, plus additional credits determined by fuel economy.
2016 Toyota Mirai
Between $1,000 and $4,000 was offered on top of the base $4,000 credit to the extent a hydrogen vehicle's fuel economy exceeded 2002 base fuel economy, based on the weight of the vehicle up to 8,500 pounds.
In addition to the renewed tax credit, the spending bill also calls for the creation of alternative-fuel corridors on major highways--including provisions for hydrogen fueling stations, as well as electric-car charging stations and natural gas and propane fueling.
Corridors will be chosen based on perceived demand for the infrastructure, strategic importance of the stretch of highway in question, and the amount of pre-existing charging and fueling infrastructure.
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The legislation requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to designate corridors by December 2016, with updates and re-designations every five years.
Once a corridor is designated, officials will draft plans to install charging and fueling stations along its route.
Renewal of the fuel-cell tax credit and the potential growth in fueling infrastructure that could come from the corridor initiative will occur as fuel-cell car deliveries gradually increase.
2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell
The first 2016 Toyota Mirai sedan was delivered in California late last year, one of 1,000 2016 models Toyota plans to import.
It hopes to sell 3,000 Mirai sedans in the U.S. by 2017. Total sales for 2015 were 72 units.
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Later this year, the Mirai and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell crossover will be joined by the 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell.
Based on a dedicated platform like the Mirai, the Clarity will initially be sold in small numbers exclusively in California--just like the other two fuel-cell vehicles currently offered here.