GreenCars 101

Buying a Hydrogen Vehicle

Laurance Yap
May 2024
GreenCars is here to help determine if hydrogen vehicles are right for you – and then guide you through the next steps if it is. Read on for more details and to hear different advantages of these vehicles.
Hydrogen Vehicle with a sunset in the background

Determining if a Hydrogen Vehicle Is Right for You

If you’re intrigued by the potential advantages of driving a hydrogen vehicle -- including zero emissions, refueling times similar to gasoline cars, and the latest technology -- you may be ready to take the next step and buy a hydrogen vehicle. Buying a hydrogen car isn’t quite as simple as buying a gasoline car or even an electric vehicle. GreenCars is here to help determine if hydrogen is right for you – and then guide you through the next steps if it is. Read on for more details.

Hydrogen SUV driving on the road
Hyundai NEXO

Is Hydrogen Right for You?

The biggest attraction of hydrogen cars – aside from emitting zero greenhouse-gas emissions – is the speed of refueling compared to electric cars. While electric cars can take hours to fully charge their batteries, filling up a hydrogen vehicle is as quick as filling up a gasoline car. You plug in a pump, you swipe your card, and you’re off in a few minutes.

The problem, at the moment, is the lack of hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the U.S. In 2024, the number of publicly-accessible hydrogen filling stations has shrunk to fewer than 100 – and most of them are in California. If you’re a private user that wants to buy a hydrogen car for your own use, hydrogen is only viable if you live in California. You can look up available hydrogen stations on the California Fuel Cell Partnership website.

If you live outside the state and want the same long-range convenience of hydrogen, a long-range electric vehicle with excellent fast-charging capability (150 kW or more, and ideally an 800-volt electrical system) might be a better fit for your needs. Alternatively, a plug-in hybrid offers fast fueling times and driving flexibility with the ability to run zero-emissions on shorter trips.

 woman charging her Toyota Mirai Hydrogen car

Selecting a Hydrogen Vehicle

If you’re in California and your regular driving routines run close to hydrogen filling stations, then a hydrogen vehicle might indeed fit your needs. Currently, three hydrogen-powered vehicles are available to the general public: the Toyota Mirai, Hyundai Nexo, and the new Honda CR-V Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV).

The Mirai, now in its second generation, is a sleek luxury sedan with an EPA-estimated 400 miles of range in XLE trim, a spacious interior, and a responsive, smooth-riding rear-wheel drive chassis. Semi-autonomous driving features include advanced drive and advanced park; in addition to radar-operated cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. Starting price is $49,500, though the high-end Limited trim is $66,000.

If you are looking for something taller and more versatile, the Nexo comes in an SUV-shaped, five-door body, with an EPA-estimated driving range of 380 miles – still enough to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles non-stop. It has a slick, beautifully made interior with plenty of tech, and even has the ability to park itself. You’ll pay $60,135 for the base blue trim of the Nexo, or $63,585 for the high-end Limited trim, though strong incentives are currently available.

Also SUV-shaped, the 2025 CR-V FCEV is front-wheel drive only. With a single electric motor producing 174 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque, it accelerates quickly and smoothly while delivering impressive efficiency. Compared to other hydrogen vehicles, what makes the CR-V FCEV special is its fueling flexibility. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles like the Mirai and Nexo rely solely on hydrogen fuel, converting it to electricity on-board to power to power their electric motors. While the hydrogen CR-V has an on-board fuel cell to generate electricity, it also has a substantial battery that can be charged by plugging it in – providing drivers with more “refueling” options. Indeed, the on-board battery gives up to 29 miles of fully-electric driving around town.


Two Ways to Save

Offsetting those higher purchase costs, Both the Hyundai Nexo and Toyota Mirai also come with a staggering $15,000 worth of free hydrogen fuel – for the first three years on leases and for a total of six years if you purchase or finance.

The savings don’t end there. Once you’ve ordered and taken delivery of your Mirai or Nexo, make sure that you work with your dealer to apply for the California Clean Vehicle Rebate, which could put another $4,500 in your pocket. You should also use the GreenCars Incentive Tool, available on this website, to investigate any additional incentives that may be available to you for purchasing a zero-emissions vehicle.

While the purchase price for your new hydrogen car might be a bit higher, free fueling and other incentives will help reduce their cost of ownership over time. It pays to be on the leading edge!

Front view of a Tesla Model 3 driving through canyon roads

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