Last week, Santa Monica opened up its first hydrogen fueling station to refuel both fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The opening was part of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) five-city plan in opening hydrogen fueling stations in Southern California. The five cities also include Santa Ana, Burbank, Ontario and Riverside.
Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies from Irvine, California has announced the delivery of five Toyota Prius hydrogen hybrid vehicles to be refueled at this same facility. This is also a part of another AQMD plan, one which will demonstrate 30 hydrogen vehicles in the SoCal region as part of a fleet. The Priuses have been verified to qualify as super ultra low emission vehicles (SULEV) as required by AQMD and have passed all other crash test and performance requirements.
In the future, it will be most likely that the trend towards developing hydrogen vehicles that are also hybrid vehicles will continue, though many hydrogen car manufacturers today are simply building hydrogen cars. But, since hybrid vehicles save fuel (any type of fuel), whether it’s gasoline, ethanol, natural gas or hydrogen, the continual growth of the hybrid market is almost a certainty. The converging and merging of two technologies that save consumers premium prices at the pump will likely one day become a standard expectation and we all will benefit from this expectation.