A hydrogen refuelling station exploded in Norway on Monday, 10th June. Jon André Løkke, CEO of Nel Hydrogen, the company operating the refuelling stations, said that, as a precaution, ten other stations have been put in standby mode until enquiries have been completed.
Toyota and Hyundai have announced that they are temporarily halting sales of fuel cell vehicles in Norway as it is not possible to refuel. Toyota will be loaning vehicles to customers who currently own the Mirai.
Toyota asserts that this accident is not changing their view on fuel cell hydrogen vehicles: “It is important for us to point out that hydrogen cars are at least as safe as ordinary cars. The hydrogen tanks themselves are so robust that you can shoot them with a gun without knocking them.”
Electrek, a US based news website dedicated to electric transportation and sustainable energy. known for its extensive, positive coverage of Tesla and electric transportation in general, asks: “Does this spell the end of fuel cell hydrogen vehicles as a “zero-emission” alternative?”
Hyundai said that they are only “making electric plug-ins until hydrogen fuel cell vehicles take hold” and Toyota has invested billions into hydrogen while it has yet to launch an all-electric vehicle. These companies have lobbied for strong subsidies for those vehicles in many markets and in some, they are even getting more subsidies than battery-electric vehicles. Yet, they have been having a hard time selling their fuel cell models while the sales of electric vehicles, described by them as being several times more efficient, have been growing fast.
An experienced engineer comments: “I hope it is not the end. Petrol and gas cylinders have exploded – we have to learn and improve. Trains are safer than cars – and we don’t abandon trains after an accident.”