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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Behavioral Response to Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles and Refueling: A Comparative Analysis of Short- and Long-Term Exposure


Over the last several decades, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) have recently emerged as a zero tailpipe-emission alternative to the battery electric vehicle (EV). FCVs have some important differences from gasoline internal combustion engine vehicles, and they have only been on the road for a few years. There are key questions about consumer reaction and response to operations and refueling. This paper presents the results of a "ride-and-drive" clinic series (n=182) held in 2007 with a Mercedes-Benz A-Class "F-Cell" hydrogen FCV. The clinic evaluated participant reactions to driving and riding in a FCV, as well as witnessing a vehicle-refueling event. Roughly 95% of respondents finished the clinic with either a positive or very positive impression of the F-Cell. More than 80% left with a positive overall impression of hydrogen. The majority expressed a willingness to travel five to ten minutes to find a hydrogen station. Approximately 50% would consider a 225 to 300 mile (360 to 480 kilometers) FCV range acceptable. Fifty percent would pay no more than a $3,000 US premium over a similar gasoline vehicle. In addition, clinic results are compared with the authors' previous study employing 24 F-Cells, which tracked respondents over a seven-month period. This comparative analysis helps to better discern which short-term effects may be influenced by the "novelty" effect and which are likely to persist due to new information.

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