NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Honda announced today that it plans to provide financial assistance to FirstElement Fuel Inc. to help develop and expand the California Hydrogen Network. A letter of intent between the two companies outlining plans for a series of financial agreements has been signed. The support from Honda combined with anticipated future grants from the State of California could allow FirstElement to add at least 12 stations to its California Hydrogen Network.
FirstElement received grants totaling over $27 million from the California Energy Commission, as well as substantial funding assistance from Toyota earlier this year to build a network of 19 stations around the state. The state has a plan to invest $200 million dollars into hydrogen station development over the next several years. Additional state grants, combined with the Honda financing, could put FirstElement in a position to expand its network of stations by more than 50%, to at least 31 stations.
“This is another extremely positive step forward for the advancement of fuel cell electric vehicles in the State of California,” said Joel Ewanick, CEO of FirstElement Fuel. “We’re so grateful for the confidence that Honda has shown to our team, and for Honda’s overall commitment to being a leader in fuel cells over the years.”
FirstElement Fuel is on its way to establishing the world’s first true retail hydrogen network by developing and operating stations in California’s metro areas, as well as in connector and destination locations. The company’s goal is for fuel cell vehicle drivers to be able to travel seamlessly throughout the state, just as if they were in a conventional gasoline vehicle. Honda, one of the leaders in the development of fuel cells, plans to retail a fuel cell car in 2016 and has advocated for a robust and comprehensive network of hydrogen stations to serve its customers.
“FirstElement Fuel is providing a vital piece of what is needed for a successful launch of fuel cell vehicles,” said Steven Center, Vice President of Honda’s Environmental Business Development Office. “Through this collaboration, FirstElement will enable our customers to experience hydrogen refueling that is as reliable, convenient and consumer-friendly as the vehicles are.”