Remember former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s much-hyped hydrogen highway? Back in 2004, the governator, in his typical understated style, rolled up to the state’s first commercial hydrogen fueling station at Los Angeles International Airport in a hydrogen-fueled Hummer to publicize plans to build a network of 100 such stations.
“This is a modest beginning, but [hydrogen cars] hold the promise of a revolution," said Schwarzenegger.
The revolution was not to be and Schwarzenegger’s dream of Californians zipping from the Oregon border to Mexico in carbon-free hydrogen fuel cell cars crashed and burned along with the state’s economy in 2008.
But like the Terminator, the hydrogen highway is back. The California Energy Commission yesterday gave a preliminary award of nearly $50 million to eight companies to build 28 hydrogen fueling stations—13 in Northern California and 15 in Southern California. Along with nine existing stations and 17 currently being built, that means California will have 54 hydrogen fueling stations online by November 2015, which not co-incidentally is when major automakers like Honda and Toyota plan to start selling futuristic hydrogen cars in California. (Hyundai this spring will begin leasing a hydrogen fuel cell version of its Tucson SUV.)