Toyota presses Oz to promote roll-out of hydrogen fuel stations

MELBOURNE (CNA) – Toyota Motor Corp yesterday opened its first commercial hydrogen fuel pump site in the Australian state of Victoria, urging the government to encourage the rollout of more sites to boost the take-up of cleaner cars.

The automaker is bringing in 20 of its Mirai hydrogen fuel cell cars to Australia in April, placing them in fleets to gain feedback on how they run. The site west of Melbourne is also its biggest globally in terms of producing, storing and dispensing hydrogen.

It is the second such fuel station in Australia after ActewAGL last week began selling hydrogen produced by France’s Neoen in a trial for 20 Hyundai Nexo sport utility vehicles owned by the Australian Capital Territory government.

Fuel cell vehicles remain a niche segment globally amid concerns about a lack of fuelling stations, resale values and the risk of hydrogen explosions.

Toyota has sold some 10,000 Mirai vehicles, mostly in Japan and the United States (US).

Toyota Australia’s CEO Callachor and Manager of Future Technologies and Mobility MacLeod stand at the hydrogen refuelling site that Toyota opened at their former car plant in the Altona suburb of Melbourne. PHOTO: CNA

“Here in Australia, refuelling infrastructure has been the biggest challenge, and still is, to introducing pioneering vehicles like the Mirai. So this is an important step forward to rectifying that,” said Toyota Australia’s manager of future technologies and mobility Matthew MacLeod.

Australia is seen as a laggard in the global drive to cut carbon emissions from the transport sector, with no targets or subsidies for cleaner vehicles – even for hybrid or battery electric vehicles, in stark contrast to most other rich nations.

The government, however, projects that 26 per cent of new vehicle sales will be electric vehicles in 2030, up from one per cent in 2020.

At the site, Toyota is using rooftop solar to power an electrolyser to split water, producing 80 kilogrammes a day of hydrogen for the fuel pump. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency provided almost half of the funds for the AUD7.4 million (USD5.7 million) project.