During the week of February 5, Shell permanently closed its seven hydrogen refuelling stations for passenger cars in California, citing “supply complications and other external market factors”, leaving in operation only three hydrogen filling stations for heavy-duty vehicles in the state.
While California was one of the few markets for hydrogen-powered vehicles to grow, only 3,143 were registered in 2023 — less than 1% of battery-electric cars in the same period, according to the most recent figures from the California Energy Commission.
Shell had said in September 2023 that it had “discontinued its plan to build and operate additional light-duty vehicle fueling stations in California”, effectively scrapping the 48 new sites it had previously announced it would build, and for which it had been awarded USD 40.6 million grant.
At the time, Shell had “temporarily” shut down five of its hydrogen stations, with a note to customers that was unable to confirm a date when these sites would reopen.
While Shell has not given any further reasons for its decision to close down its California sites, the oil major had used filling station equipment supplied by Norway’s Nel — currently at the center of a lawsuit by industrial gas company Iwatani, which alleges major defects in its H2Station range.
For now, Shell is advising affected customers to check out the California Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership website for available fueling locations.
Owners of hydrogen-powered cars like the Hyundai Nexo, Toyota Mirai, and Honda Clarity will be affected by the closure.
Honda is still planning to launch a hydrogen-powered CR-V in 2024, powered by a next-gen hydrogen powertrain built in collaboration with General Motors.
Honda aims to sell 2,000 units per year for the new fuel cell system.
(multiple sources on February 8, 2024)