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As gas prices drive upward, some drivers considering hydrogen-powered alternatives

Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells are a key part of California's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and new clean air standards that go into effect in 2035.

SAN DIEGO — As gas prices continue to drive upward, more drivers are considering  more fuel-efficient alternatives, including hydrogen. 

Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells are a key part of California's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and new clean air standards that go into effect in 2035.

If you own a hydrogen-powered vehicle, there is only one place in the county, a Shell station along Carmel Valley Road, to re-fuel.

While that is a drawback, drivers who have switched to hydrogen say that there are plenty of advantages.

For one of them, San Diegan Q Lam, buying a used Toyota Mirai was not only an environmentally conscious decision, with water vapor as the only  fuel exhaust, but an economic one as well.

"It's nice that you're not harming the earth, but at the same time, for me, it was the price point," he said. 

While a new hydrogen-powered car can cost upward of $50,000, federal and state tax rebates can knock more than $12,000 off that.

Some dealers have even thrown in a fuel card for $15,000 worth of hydrogen fuel.

Lam said it costs him about $65 to fill up his tank, which gives him about 270 miles: although other drivers say they can get three to four hundred miles.

Drivers say that's a good deal, as gasoline prices continue to drive upward.

<"if you're comparing to gasoline, this is a much much better deal," said another Toyota Mirai owner.

Solana Beach resident and Toyota Mirai owner Michael Tang agreed.

"When I bought this, it was like $4.50 a gallon for regular gasoline, so I still felt good about the eco-friendly vibe about it," Tang told CBS 8. "But now that prices a re going up, I definitely feel good financially as well about that decision."

These drivers also appreciate that it takes only minutes to re-fuel their hydrogen vehicles instead of the hours it takes to recharge an electric vehicle.

There are now more than 12,000 hydrogen powered vehicles registered in California, although the current lack of filling stations poses a major hindrance.

'We did have a period of about four years where no stations were funded and so right now we're working to kind of catch up," said Keith Malone of the CA Fuel Cell Partnership. 

Tang believes more drivers will opt for hydrogen in the coming years, especially if gas prices keep climbing.

"I think as the infrastructure gets there, definitely," he added. "It's still early days."

That infrastructure locally is beginning to expand. A new hydrogen filling station is expected to open in Mission Valley in the next few months, while three others throughout the county are planned in the coming years.

WATCH RELATED: No gas tax relief but vehicle owners could get $400 in Newsom's new budget plan to combat inflation (May 13, 2022)

    

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