Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles are related to electric cars, but have pros and cons that make them very different.
- There are only about 15,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles on U.S. roads right now, and all of them are in California. Meanwhile, EVs are out there in the millions.
- While electric cars are getting attention, with major manufacturers focusing on making them dominant by 2030, hydrogen vehicles are staying in the background for now.
- Here’s what you need to know about what hydrogen cars are, how they work, and how likely it will be that you’ll ever drive one.
You’ve likely heard a lot about electric vehicles lately, as well as news about legislation to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles. But there’s another kind of zero-emission vehicle, one that emits only water vapor as it carries you down the road. That’s the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, related to an EV but with specific differences that make hydrogen cars different and much rarer.
To date, about 2.5 million EVs have been sold in the U.S. By contrast, as of mid-2022, 15,000 or fewer hydrogen-powered vehicles can be found on U.S. roads. All of them will be in California, the sole state with a network of retail hydrogen fueling stations to make the cars usable.
Hydrogen Cars Currently Available
Since 2015, three hydrogen -powered cars have been offered for sale from three different car companies: the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, the Hyundai Nexo SUV, and the Toyota Mirai. But Honda has now ended production of all models of the Clarity, and Hyundai has sold fewer than 1500 Nexo SUVs thus far.
Toyota, the company most devoted to hydrogen power as an alternative to battery-electric vehicles, has sold roughly 10,700 Mirai sedans across two generations in the U.S.—though in some periods it resorted to substantial discounting to move them. (Honda does not break out sales of its Clarity Fuel Cell model from the plug-in-hybrid and battery-electric Clarity versions.)