Toyota has decided to halt sales of fuel cell vehicles in Norway after a hydrogen refueling station exploded earlier this week. The company that operated the station has also suspended operations at all of its other locations after the explosion. Hyundai has had a similar response to Toyota, it has temporarily stopped selling its fuel cell vehicles as well.
Even before electric cars become widely known as the one true alternative to combustion vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell technology has been regarded as one of the possible alternatives. However, such vehicles aren’t all that popular, largely due to the efficiency of the powertrain itself and longstanding concerns about the potential safety risks of using liquid hydrogen.
The cause of the explosion at the Uno-X hydrogen station in Sandvika, Norway is as yet unknown. It did result in two injuries to passengers in a nearby vehicle. The explosion was reportedly strong enough that it detonated the airbags in that car even when there had been no impact. The other ten stations have temporarily been put in standby mode as the company investigates the cause of the explosion. Since it’s not possible to refuel now, Toyota has decided to halt sales of fuel cell vehicles. Existing owners are being offered loaner vehicles. However, this certainly doesn’t signal the end of the road for fuel cell vehicles.
Toyota has said that this incident doesn’t change its view of hydrogen and that “it is important for us to point out that hydrogen cars are at least as safe as ordinary cars.” It also highlights that “The hydrogen tanks themselves are so robust that you can shoot them with a gun without knocking them.”
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