In an interesting twist of events, the same day that SunHydro announces its grand opening of the East Coast Hydrogen Highway, Shell Oil has announced the closing of its hydrogen fueling stations on the East Coast. Is this due to coincidence, competition or something else?
I’ve talked about SunHydro’s East Coast Hydrogen Highway before and how it is bypassing New York City and Washington DC which are exactly where Shell is closing its 5 hydrogen fueling stations.
According to Shell, this is to save money and concentrate on where most of the hydrogen cars are currently located, which is California. In fact, Shell is putting up two new hydrogen fueling stations in the Golden State, saying that this is where all of the Honda Clarities are and where the Mercedes B-Class F-Cells will be.
But, not all automakers feel the same way as Toyota has teamed up with SunHydro to test of the East Coast Hydrogen Highway and make it a success. One also has to wonder if this also has something to do with the range of the vehicles.
The Honda Clarity gets about 240 miles per fill up, the Mercedes about the same and some of SunHydro’s stations will be spaced further apart than this. However, the Toyota FCHV-adv has a range well over 400 miles which is enough to be able to fuel up at every station between Portland, ME and Miami, FL.
But, since the SunHydro hydrogen fueling stations are just starting to be built one has to wonder what the current drivers of hydrogen vehicles on the East Coast are supposed to do now that Shell is pulling out and SunHydro hasn’t completed putting up?
Because Shell’s hydrogen fueling station at the John F. Kennedy International Airport is closing this will leave at least 10 hydrogen cars and vehicles without a place to gas up for now. Does Shell not have a corporate responsibility to keep at least one station up to accommodate these drivers?
After all Shell knew that hydrogen fueling stations would not be money makers for quite some time. In fact, SunHydro as well isn’t planning on making money off its hydrogen stations anytime in the future, if ever.
The point is to get started and keep the momentum going. Perhaps, as a big oil company, with no interest in seeing hydrogen cars on the road in any quantity, throwing a monkey wrench into the works at this stage is a way to stall this momentum.
I’ll let you be the judge as to what Shell’s motivations are. And in the meantime I will cheer on SunHydro’s efforts at being a non oil company with not only the foresight to do something for the greater good, but the capital to make it work and take their role of corporate citizenship seriously.