By on May 5, 2014

Joel Ewanick. Picture courtesy

Former Hyundai and General Motors marketing executive Joel Ewanick’s newest endeavour — a hydrogen fuel filling station network called FirstElement Fuel Inc. — has won a $27.6 million grant from the California Energy Commission, allowing Ewanick to move forward with the startup.

Automotive News reports FirstElement will install 19 filling stations throughout California at existing filling stations, including a few locales considered unprofitable:

We’re putting some stations in areas that will not be profitable. We did that to demonstrate that customers will have the ability to use their cars anywhere in California, same as a gasoline-powered car. It will be a true network.

The stations will initially receive hydrogen via delivery, with the capability to produce the alternative fuel on-site down the road.

Ewanick also has eyes on the Northeastern United States, as several states have adopted California’s clean air standards as their own. In the meantime, his 19-station network is part of 28 total stations that will open thanks to funding from the CEC, joining the nine fully operational and 17 under-construction stations already in California as the state marches toward its goal of 100 such units by the end of the decade.

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13 Comments on “Ewanick’s FirstElement Fuel Receives $27.6M Grant For 19 Hydrogen Stations...”

  • avatar

    Fking fantastic.

  • avatar

    Well, that’s strange, they will deliberately open operations they know won’t be profitable?

    Why not concentrate on more profitable locations, presumably more widely dispersed geographically?

    And how is this going to work, anyway, with (as far as I know) zero Hydrogen cars available for sale to the general public? Weren’t the few that exist sold for fleet use only?

    Sounds like a venture only government could love. Another Solyndra, no doubt …


    • 0 avatar

      Setting aside the governmental aspects, in answer (narrowly) to your question, in order to provide a viable system that the profitable stations can exist within. If the only way to make H a viable fuel is to have sufficient fueling station coverage that a driver could use it, then the question is whether or not the entire system will be profitable. I’m sure McDonalds loses money during some slow hours of operation, but feels that their overall profitability is enhanced by being open then as well as the profitable hours.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    Seems like a huge waste of money.

  • avatar

    I love it……………….
    California is broke…………
    Infrastructure is falling apart………….
    BUT they spend 27.6 million dollars on a system that doesn’t have
    any cars to fuel.
    THAT’s OK the tax payers can pay for it :=(
    Jerry Brown is nuts

    • 0 avatar

      We are actually doing quite well out here. Thanks, maybe next time you can pull your head out of your right wing talking point and actually pay attention before showing your ignorance

  • avatar

    I hope the bullet train to Fresno is completed by the time these get built.

  • avatar

    Ca Energy Commission proposed budget 2013 – 2014 was $20M for hydrogen fueling infrastructure. The grant was for $27M to one company. It will vaporize with token results. Like the Obama bullet train.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    So they’ll be trucking H2 in until they can generate it locally (presumably by reformulating natural gas)?

    How much will the H2 cost per mile, compared to 3-4 cents for electricity or 15-50 cents (optimistically) for gasoline?

  • avatar

    Maybe my friend Dr. Buxbaum can sell them some of his gizmos that generate pure hydrogen from a methanol/water mix:

  • avatar

    pompous clown.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    At $8/gallon, if they make $1 profit per gallon, and a Honda Clarity get 60 mpgH, and these drivers go 15k miles/year, you’d need 37,000 H2-powered cars on the road immediately to break even on the grant – over a 3-year period. Lots of ifs and guesses here, but that’s my math on it.

    California just threw away $27 million.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t care if he was using his own or his investor’s money, but he’s using Cali’s money instead (which is how close to bankruptcy every year?). Seems like private profits if he succeeds and socialized losses if he fails. Funny that.

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