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Mayhem in SoCal for FCV Owners as shortage hits, Air Products gives update through Toyota

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Costa Mesa H2
An H2 refueling station in the back of a Valero located in Costa Mesa, Calif

Another Hydrogen shortage has hit Southern California as Air Products struggles to keep up with demand.

Air Products primary Hydrogen supply and their backup system suffered a massive failure this week, but you wouldn’t know that if you visited their news center with nary a peep from their public relations department. As per Toyota Mirai’s community manager via Honda Clarity’s unofficial owner’s group earlier yesterday (Sept. 15,2018) Air Products gave updates to Toyota and presumably Honda on the status of their Hydrogen production.

A snapshot of ALL the available H2 in California with hydrogen supplied by Air Products available on h2-ca.com

Here’s a quick timeline of events as it unfolded.

As of this writing, almost every H2 refilling station is empty. Hydrogen is still being made by Air Products, but it’s trickling in. I’ve linked the entire statement via Toyota Mirai’s community manager here but basically, it says their primary supply and backup supply, like last time in July, both suffered operating issues. Since then a secondary backup system is working 24/7 to truck in whatever H2 they can make to the stations that need it the most.

“Air Products continues expansion of the fill system serving the hydrogen fueling station network in southern California. While this primary supply system is offline for this activity, a primary backup system was designed and installed earlier this year. That system experienced an operating issue and as a result we have brought online a secondary backup system. We anticipate stations may continue to experience periodic delays in refilling over the next few days. We are continuing work around the clock to bring both the primary supply system as well as the primary backup system back on-line. We appreciate your patience with any inconvenience during this period and will provide another update on Monday, 17 September on the status or sooner if the situation changes.”

As of this writing, it looks like deliveries once made in the middle of the night are arriving as fast as they can fill tankers so that means deliveries during the day. UC Irvine received a shipment of 100 KG of hydrogen, enough to fill 20 cars, earlier in the afternoon and that station should be empty again in a couple of hours.

Conveniently enough, real-time graphs of station totals and overall capacity of Hydrogen in California, with stations run by Air Products, is available at H2-ca.com and is where I’ve been getting specifics.

Here’s that graph of Irvine I mentioned earlier. This snapshot shows the previous 72 hours. You can see the fillup at noon earlier today and at the moment, supply is dropping as per usual.

Honda Clarity owners on Facebook in the Southern California region are already expressing their growing annoyance at this issue. Like last time, Honda has not given any updates to its Clarity owners nor reminded Clarity FCV owners of the available 21 days of rental they have at their disposal. Last time this shortage hit, Honda extended rental day vouchers with documentation.

Toyota is doing the best they can as they did last time with Mirai owners, or Trail Blazers as they’re called, getting updates and support as needed.

This newest shortage hasn’t come without rumors as the latest rumor sees Hydrogen being trucked in from Canada as per an informal chat with a tanker driver. In July, during the previous shortage, H2 from Air Products Louisiana plant was brought up as a possibility.

As this is JUST the beginning of the H2 shortage, I’ll be curious to see Air Product’s next step.

It’s clear that one supplier isn’t enough. Plants can’t be built overnight but some healthy competition from others would behoove the future of H2 cars moving forward.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Toyota has made the situation MUCH worse by selling so many Mirai.

    Per my conversations with Mirai drivers ( about eight by now ) they are all ex Prius drivers and the dealer ( I believe the one in Tustin ) NEVER told them about the refueling restrictions. They were just given the keys.

    When we first got our Clarity, it was very easy to fill up at our usual station in UCI, but in the last year and a half the number of Mirai that have shown up is astonishing. Overwhelming actually. To the point where the station is being stressed -according to the operator- because it was not really designed for such a non stop load: the compressor never gets a break, for example. I imaging the entire infrastructure is being stressed with so many cars for which it was not designed.

    Just look at the numbers…. Honda has leased under 1000 Clarity FCEV in all of California… meanwhile Toyota has delivered well over 4000 by now.

    Meanwhile the State drags its feet -as usual. It takes over two years to set up a refueling station. And no one is really stocking parts.. so when a compressor fails it needs to be ordered from the factory. Huh? How about stocking one or two in a local warehouse? Plus we need to see more in site reforming (as in Newport).

    And, Shell needs to get its act together over in Torrance! Their pipeline supported station has gone down for extended periods now three time in two years!

    We love our Clarity FCEV, but it’s our 3rd car so we can handle this mess, BUT, Toyota is doing its best to kill the notion of a FCEV. I think our next car will be a plain Accord iMMD sedan.

    Oh yeah, it’s awful how the news is so well hidden. And I won’t deal with the Facebook Clarity FCEV “closed page” so IMHO the Air Products should have this in their own website.

    Thanks for reporting the news.

  2. I can’t see the Toyota status you loaded up.

    Oh, btw, if you look at the H2-ca.com graphs, you can see true PANIC. The stations are being drained in just a few hours.

    The last time, I observed that there would be a line of ten or more cars over at UCI ( usually nine Mirai and something else) topping off. It’d take an hour or more, assuming that we wouldn’t have a Mirai on a flat bed right in front of me ( brand new owner, ex Prius. Man, HE WAS pissed at the dealer for selling then the FCEV). That flat bed took 20 minutes to fill the Mirai.

    In normal times, I can go to UCI or Costa Mesa in the middle of a weekday and at most there might be one car fueling up.

    The PANIC makes things much, MUCH worse.

    Again, thanks for the status and the links.

  3. Maybe drivers should not purchase a car with such limited and fragile infrastructure support and Toyota could redirect its R & D resources towards BEVs which requires no refueling stations except for long distance journeys.

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