Japanese car giant Toyota says Australia is “perfectly placed” to adopt hydrogen cars, but the lack of refuelling points is holding back the technology.
There is just one hydrogen refuelling point in Australia to date – behind Hyundai’s Sydney head office, pictured below – but two more are planned, one each in Melbourne and Canberra next year, the latter part of an ACT government initiative to add a small fleet of hydrogen cars to better understand the technology.
Toyota Australia vice president, sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, believes hydrogen car technology is at the same stage hybrids were two decades ago.
“The only thing that’s halting hydrogen now is infrastructure,” said Mr Hanley. “The technology’s there (but) car companies, government, energy companies, have got to come to together to fast-track and accelerate the hydrogen society very quickly. It is a credible option that has absolutely zero emissions.”
Mr Hanley said the take up of hydrogen vehicles will happen much quickly than hybrid technology was embraced – once enough refuelling points are installed.
In Germany and California, a small number of hydrogen refuelling stands are located alongside petrol pumps at traditional service stations, but the same is yet to occur in Australia.
“I would argue that … hydrogen fuel cell electric is the hybrid electric of 19 years ago,” said Mr Hanley. “The only change will be this: it’s not going to take 19 years for this type of technology to mature. It will accelerate a lot more quickly, a whole lot quicker than we saw with hybrid electric.”
For now, the only hydrogen car on sale in Australia in the Hyundai Nexo, but that is only available to government or business fleets with access to a refueller.
Toyota has had four Mirai hydrogen cars in Australia for three years (one of which is pictured below), powered by a mobile hydrogen refuelled on the back of a diesel truck so the fleet can test in remote areas.
However, Toyota has since launched a more conventional looking, second-generation Mirai (pictured below) – and it could come to Australia if there were somewhere for the public to refuel it.
“Once that infrastructure is available, certainly we could bring in the second generation Mirai into Australia,” said Mr Hanley. “The thing with hydrogen is … Australia is perfectly resourced to take that opportunity.”
Mr Hanley added: “I think by 2030, hydrogen will be quite well known and Australia as a country is perfectly resourced for hydrogen. It’s a great opportunity actually.
I think it’s something we are all keenly pursuing. We have a very close relationship now through the Hydrogen Council of Australia with Hyundai and other car companies. I do believe that through this kind of partnership we will see an acceleration of hydrogen.”