The Japanese automaker, which in 2015 will out a Camry sized sedan fueled by hydrogen, has decided to fund a startup that aims to open hydrogen-fuel stations in California.
FirstElement Fuel, led by Joel Ewanick, General Motors Co.’s former marketing chief, is helped by Toyota to speed up the development of hydrogen fuel stations with at least $7.2 million, according to fillings with the California Energy Commission. The startup aims to build and operate at least 19 hydrogen stations in America’s greenest state.
“This is really the first step in creating a fueling network that for the first time allows people to use their cars with no limitations,” said Ewanick, FirstElement’s chief executive officer.
“The first few years here in California will be a critical period for hydrogen fuel cell technology,” said Bob Carter, Toyota’s senior vice president. “Through this financial arrangement with FirstElement, Toyota is showing its full commitment to deploy zero-emission fuel-cell vehicles here.”
The Californian state also provides financial support through grants worth $46.6 million for hydrogen-fuel stations – needed to help automakers like Toyota, Honda or Hyundai market their hydrogen powered models.
The grants from the California Energy Commission will be used to open 28 new hydrogen stations and one mobile refueler, after the state – which currently has just nine public hydrogen stations and 17 more in development – announced an investment program worth around $200 million to open 100 stations within 10 years.