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HomeEV & BatteryUS: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Sales Fell By 30% In Q1 2023

US: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Sales Fell By 30% In Q1 2023

Hydrogen fuel cell cars (aka FCV or FCEV), an alternative zero-emission solution to battery-electric cars (BEV), remain basically absent in the United States and even in California (the only state with two series-produced models available), sales are decreasing.

According to the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership‘s data, during the first quarter of 2023, 725 new hydrogen fuel cell cars were sold in the US, which is almost 30 percent less than a year ago.

The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership’s FCVs sales data comes from Baum and Associates. “Sales data is based on car sales sold by a dealer to a retail or fleet customer”.

This number is marginal compared to the total volume of some 3.7 million units, during the period, and even all-electric cars, which noted some 257,507 registrations (up 63 percent year-over-year).  In California alone, there were some 87,525 new BEVs and 16,470 PHEVs in Q1.

The only positive news is that the result is on par with the fourth quarter of 2022 (720 units), but that’s really nothing significant, considering over 1,000 units sold in the first quarter in the two previous years.

As far as we know, there are only two hydrogen fuel cell models available in California – the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo (the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell exited a while ago).

According to the manufacturers, some 668 Toyota Mirai were sold last quarter and 65 Hyundai Nexo (both were down year-over-year). Those numbers do not necessarily compare 1:1 with the dealer sales, reported by the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership.

As we can see below, most of the weight (over 90 percent of the volume) is carried by Toyota.

Sales in Q1 2023:

  • Toyota Mirai – 668 (down 7%)
  • Hyundai Nexo – 65 (down 61%)
  • Total: 725 (down 30%)

* Mirai and Nexo sales as reported by the manufacturers

For reference, in 2022 FCEV sales exceeded 2,707 (down 19 percent year-over-year).

Sales in 2022:

  • Toyota Mirai – 2,094 (down 20%)
  • Hyundai Nexo – 408 (down 5%)
  • Total: 2,707 (down 19%)

* Mirai and Nexo sales as reported by the manufacturers

It’s difficult to say whether there is any hope for hydrogen fuel cell cars in the future as battery-electric cars are growing rapidly, taking a bigger and bigger share out of the total volume (currently some seven percent in the US).

Something would have to change – lower prices, better refueling infrastructure, or new, more competitive models, but we don’t know whether anything new is coming to the market right now.

The potential appears to be very limited and the question is who would now invest billions to seriously enter the hydrogen niche?

Anyway, the overall cumulative sales of FCVs exceeded 15,700 as of the end of March (not counting vehicles removed from use), which is 18 percent more than a year ago. This number includes over 12,000 Toyota Mirai.

As of May 22, 2022, the number of open retail hydrogen stations in California stood at 58 (five more than in December):

  • Open – Retail: 58
  • Open – Legacy Retail: 0
  • Currently Unavailable: 6
  • In Construction: 7
  • In Permitting: 23
  • Proposed: 7
  • On hold: 5
  • Total (Light Duty): 106

See the full list of hydrogen infrastructure here.

A quick calculation reveals that there are over 270 cars per single station (cumulative sales divided by the number of open retail stations). Although, it might be less if some of the early cars have been removed from service.

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