Toyota Motor Corp. is funding FirstElement Fuel, a startup led by former General Motors marketing chief Joel Ewanick, with at least $7.2 million, according to letters filed with the California Energy Commission as obtained by Bloomberg News. Toyota hopes the funding to hasten up the opening of hydrogen-fuel stations in California.
FirstElement, is planning to operate pumps and sell hydrogen for passenger cars from at least 19 new stations in the state. Ewanick , who serves as FirstElement’s chief executive officer , told Bloomberg in an interview that the funding was the first step in creating a fueling network that will allow people “to use their cars with no limitations.”
California also provides grants of around $46.6 million for hydrogen-fuel stations that will enable carmakers to build a market for hydrogen fuel-cell cars that will start to arrive this year and next. FirstElement grabbed the biggest grant, which amounted to a total of $27.6 million.
“The first few years here in California will be a critical period for hydrogen fuel cell technology,” said Carter. “California has stepped up with the offer to invest $200 million dollars to build 100 stations, and through this financial arrangement with FirstElement, Toyota is showing its full commitment to deploy zero emission fuel cell vehicles here in California. Perhaps most importantly, we are showing the future owners of this amazing technology that Toyota is helping to ensure that hydrogen refueling will be available, no matter what car brand is on the hood.” [source: Toyota]