The Automobile industry and the fuel cell vehicle technology
Automobile industry is currently in a major revolutionary period. As global warming becomes a serious issue, the automobile industry has been engaged in CO2 emission reduction. This movement is expected to accelerate after the US as the largest CO2 emitter and China have ratified Paris Agreement (COP21) . Presently, in addition to gasoline, clean diesel engine, hybrid, and electric vehicles (EV) are now available in the market. EV particularly shows a marked popularization in recent years with Tesla and Nissan as its major manufacturers. Toyota is widely known as the first company to introduce hybrid vehicle “Prius” in the world in 1997. The introduction of the hybrid vehicle system developed a new market; the major car makers all now each have a lineup of ecologically-friendly vehicle. As the next step of evolution, Toyota is currently focusing on fuel cell vehicle (FCV). In December 2014, Toyota introduced the world’s first mass-produced FCV “MIRAI” (which means “Future” in Japanese) as a pioneer to actualize a hydrogen energy based society . With the consideration of high efficiency, cruising distance comparable to gasoline vehicle, short filling time, and only water emission during driving, the vehicle definitely holds very high potential environmental technology as “Ultimate ecologically-friendly vehicle.”
The industry structure can be drastically changed when FCV becomes popular. Thus, Toyota has been daringly striving not for EV but for FCV. However, the popularization requires infrastructure development to supply hydrogen. Especially for Toyota, the U.S. market is extremely important as they are the market leader; without success in the U.S. market, popularization is virtually impossible.
Approach for diffusion of infrastructure development in the US
From 2013, a new partnership called “H2USA” was established by Department of Energy, automobile manufacturers, and Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association for expanding diffusion of fuel cell vehicle and hydrogen station in some states to a nationwide scale. Besides the US automobile manufacturers, the Japanese and Korean automobile manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Hyundai are also participating in H2USA. H2USA is presently planning to build hydrogen stations across the US by 2020. In addition, H2USA is involved with the development plan for hydrogen station in the state of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island .
The most advanced state for hydrogen usage in the US is the state of California at present, and California operates one and only hydrogen station in the US while approximately 230 fuel cell vehicles are already running on the roads. The state has introduced the emission regulation including CO2 called “Zero emission vehicle (ZEV) regulation” to automobile manufactures . It is a strict regulation and requires automobile manufacturers to sell ZEV or vehicle without CO2 emission such as EV and FCV in definite proportion of the entire number of vehicles sold in the state. For that reason, many automobile manufacturers are planning to sell EV and FCV in California.
The diffusion of hydrogen stations in the state has been progressed in cooperation with California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) as a public-private partnership organization, California Energy Commission (CEC), and California Air Resources Board (ARB)   . According to “California Road Map” announced by CaFCP in 2012, the state needs 68 hydrogen stations by early 2016 and nearly total 100 hydrogen stations would also be required by 2017-2018 depending on the number of FCVs . Because of the estimations, Governor Brown enacted the state law for usage expansion of clean energy vehicle in September 2013 and also announced the development of maximum 100 hydrogen stations in the state by investing 20 million dollars annually. As of April 2014, 17 hydrogen stations were opened in California and 51 hydrogen stations will be established by 2017.
Possible future plans
Although infrastructure development has been proceeding in some states like California, it is still insufficient at all so far.
If Toyota wishes MIRAI to be successful in future, there would be two possible approaches for the company. Firstly, the company could sufficiently indicate technical advantages to government in each country and actively request to develop hydrogen stations. This would be an ideal solution, however, since government does not always respond promptly, it may take several years which can be a huge risk for this project. Secondly, the company may aggressively develop infrastructure by its own funds. The problem for this is that it requires a significant investment, and there also could be regulatory barriers in some regions. The ratification of COP21 by each country is an advantageous situation, but survival of the technology will certainly depend on further development of FCV technology and an aggressive approach for infrastructure development by Toyota from now on.
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 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 2016. Paris Agreement – Status of Ratification. Available at: http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9444.php.
 Toyota Mirai – The Turning Point. Available at: https://ssl.toyota.com/mirai/index.html
 Participants | H2USA. Available at: http://h2usa.org/participants
 Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program. 2016. Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program. Available at: https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/zevprog/zevprog.htm.
 California Fuel Cell Partnership. Available at: http://cafcp.org/.
 California Energy Commission. 2016. California Energy Commission. Available at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/.
 California air resources board. 2016. Air Resources Board – Homepage. Available at: https://www.arb.ca.gov/homepage.htm.
 California Fuel Cell Partnership. 2012. A California Road Map: The Commercialization of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles. Available at: