Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCVs) are zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and their widespread adoption may help to mitigate some of the issues arising from fossil-fuel usage in the transportation sector. Only in recent years have these vehicles become available for purchase or lease in the United States, and only within the State of California. In 2018, nearly 5,500 HFCVs had been sold or leased in California, supported by a developing refueling infrastructure there. This population represents a unique opportunity, as previous studies on HFCV adoption have largely employed hypothetical stated preference surveys distributed to likely adopters. Seeking to investigate the real experiences of actual adopters from their own perspectives, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 early adopters of HFCVs in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Thematic content analysis of these interviews was conducted to identify the prevalence of factors deductively derived from published literature. All respondents considered lifetime cost of vehicle ownership, engaged in comparison shopping, and assessed the adequacy of the refueling infrastructure by various geographical criteria. Environmental concerns motivated many respondents to pursue HFCV adoption, though only if it made financial sense. Respondents chose HFCVs over battery electric vehicles after consideration of range, refueling time, and cost. Early HFCV adopters consistently cast their adoption of the technology as a contribution to a diverse ZEV marketplace. Strategies for the promotion of HFCV technology must account for this range of variation in early-adopter motivations, concerns, and behaviors which might complicate targeted HFCV promotion strategies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering