Both Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity owners are experiencing a Hydrogen fuel shortage in Southern California but their customer service experiences couldn’t be more different.

Update 7/31/2018 – Honda responds, offering rental car support.

As of today, it will be more than two weeks since a disruption in the Hydrogen supply line caused Hydrogen fuel shortages at refueling stations localized in Southern California. While Toyota Mirai owners received notifications from Toyota Support within a reasonable amount of time including several options for support to get them through this hydrogen fuel shortage, Honda Clarity owners feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick.

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I reported earlier yesterday that Air Products, a Hydrogen fuel supplier for True Zero and Air Products stations accounting for 17 of the 24 stations in SoCal, suffered a supply line disruption. And to be fair, while Toyota and Honda aren’t directly responsible for this Hydrogen fuel shortage, it’s within their power to help out their respective owners at their discretion.

Thanks to my interactions with Honda Clarity FCV owners online, I learned that Toyota really pulled out the red carpet for Mirai owners in SoCal in their time of need. Support from Toyota included

  • Frequent notifications via mobile and personal phone calls
  • One-on-one help from Toyota via their official Facebook owners group open to Toyota Mirai owners only.
  • Offering to open an alternative refueling station at the Port of Long Beach, a Toyota owned H2 refueling facility.
  • Financial help and personal help getting extra days rental above what they’re handed out on the delivery of their Mirai’s.
  • and ride share cards through Uber and Lyft

According to Toyota,

“Toyota is aware that certain fuel-cell vehicle owners in the Los Angeles area are currently experiencing refueling challenges because of limited hydrogen supply at several local fueling stations. While the station operator works to resolve this short-term issue, we are working with our Mirai (fuel-cell car) customers to help identify alternative fueling options, including as a temporary measure, opening our commercial hydrogen fueling station at the Port of Long Beach…We sincerely regret the current inconvenience for our customers,”

In contrast, from what I’ve been told, Honda Clarity FCV owners are saying Honda is taking a hands-off approach. No official communications, no help from their local Honda dealerships, and certainly no extra rental days.

Honda Clarity owners do have three years roadside assistance with unlimited miles to help them get out of a jam if they run out of Hydrogen fuel on the road, not to mention the 21 days of free rentals standard for all Clarity FCV owners. Realistically, those 21 days of rentals should really be used for long trips where hydrogen fuel isn’t available and a gas car is necessary.

Technically, Honda doesn’t have to do anything since it’s not their issue and caveat emptor. But when you sell an FCV with benefits like 5-10 minute fillups in contrast to half-hour electric charges, stations within driving range of home, and no warning of how fragile the infrastructure these stations are built on really is, it would behoove Honda to make the Clarity experience as smooth as possible during rough patches like this.

Can you imagine if someone on the fence between a Mirai and Clarity gets wind of the vastly different customer service experience between Honda and Toyota? Surely, they’d be swayed towards Mirai.

The ball’s in your court, Honda.


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