mux wrote:Yet any of those cars have worldwide sales well in excess of the Mirai, whereas the Mirai is only available in a tiny area, incentivized to a frankly absurd degree, and still only gets a tiny slice of the pie after almost 5 years of availability.
Since Toyota could only make about 3k Mirai stacks annually until recently, the public's appetite has shifted to CUVs from sedans, the fueling infrastructure in California is behind schedule, and to top it off the car's looks are at best polarizing, at worst ugly, it's hardly surprising that the Mirai's numbers haven't increased significantly - they can't. The Clarity FCEV suffers from the many if not all of the same limitations, albeit its looks seem to be slightly less of an issue.
Several things have or are about to change. Toyota now says they've been able to reduce the amount of hand work each stack requires, allowing them to boost production significantly (by an order of magnitude, while reducing costs from around $50k/stack to $11k, with $8k in sight), and they are using two Mirai stacks in the buses and Class 8 tractors that are being introduced here and in Japan. The fueling infrastructure should start to increase much more rapidly next year, as CEC/CARB tightened up the requirements considerably for getting grants in the current round of awards, and most of them went to companies with the experience (First Element, who've built 18 or 19 of the 35 full retail H2 stations in California) and financing (Shell, who also owns or franchises the gas stations where H2 dispensing will be added) to ensure rapid completion. Also, economies of scale through building stations with larger capacities, as well as the learning curve, have dropped the cost/kg. of station capex significantly already, and greater familiarity with the process has shortened the time from permitting through completion.
Several headwinds remain. First, as yet there isn't enough competition between stations to bring the retail cost of H2 down significantly, so leasing (while the manufacturer picks up the fuel tab for three years) is the only rational choice.
Second, while fueling infrastructure construction will pick up significantly in 2019 and 2020, virtually all of it will be in urban areas to provide more people with convenient fueling for routine use. This is necessary to allow sales to grow, but does nothing to expand coverage to new areas for road trips, the usage where FCEVs have considerable operational advantages over BEVs because of longer useful ranges and rapid refueling.
Finally, Toyota and Honda are stuck for a few years yet with a body type that the public has mostly lost interest in and whose looks are controversial (I'm being polite), so major sales growth is unlikely. If priced correctly, I suspect the Hyundai Nexo CUV will see far bigger sales/leases than both the Mirai or Clarity once it arrives.