Cost to Operate a Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Car?

I’d be interested in buying a hydrogen fuel-cell car, IF the price ever came down to the level that yer average consumer could afford one, and IF the hydrogen infrastructure got to where I could fill up at any corner gas station.

However, at current levels:

  1. How much does hydrogen cost, and in what units is it measured (pounds, gallons, etc.)?

  2. How many miles per unit does yer typical fuel-cell vehicle get?

By way of comparison, my 1998 Saturn SL2 holds ten gallons of unleaded gasoline, at $2.69 per gallon (as of today). At 24 MPG city that works out to 240 miles per tank, 26.90 per tank, or .11 per mile if my math is right.

The Honda FCX has a 3.75kg hydrogen capacity and range of about 430km, which works out to roughly 115km/kg. The Honda website lists EPA fuel efficiency 62/51 mpg, but keep in mind hydrogen is not very dense, so a gallon weighs a fraction of a gallon of gasoline.

Compressed Hydrogen can be sold by mass or volume–costs also depend on the pressure, it costs more to get more pressure. The FCX cars were only initially leased to municipalities and they have special pricing arrangements, but recently one was leased to the Spallino family of Redondo beach, CA. Because there are limited facilities available, it is not really possible to peg a consumer price for hydrogen gas at the right pressure delivered to your car. The FCX cars use 5000psi.

Of course there are lots of websites claiming this or that for compressed hydrogen consumer “pump” prices, but their claims may not be realistic or objective. You really can’t extrapolate based on the costs of bottled hydrogen gas (lower pressure) or unique situations in which compressed hydrogen is bought or made in large volumes, used and stored on site.