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Fuel cell vehicles are similar to electric vehicles except that they get their power from H2. A hydrogen car, also known as a fuel cell vehicle (FCV or FCEV), is not completely unlike a battery electric vehicle (EV or BEV) in a number of ways.  Most importantly, they both use an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine as is the case with vehicles that are powered by gasoline, for instance.

As similar as they may be, there is also a list of substantial differences between the two.

While EVs run on batteries that need to be plugged in for recharging, hydrogen cars generate their own electricity onboard in their fuel cells.  Within a fuel cell, H2 is combined with oxygen (O2) from ambient air.  That process generates electricity, heat and water as its byproducts.  As a result, it can power the electric motor without any greenhouse gas emissions. The only emissions released from the vehicle are water and heat.

How to Fill a Hydrogen Vehicle

Hydrogen-powered vehicles don't need charging like an electric vehicle. You refuel them with hydrogen gas by simply attaching a nozzle from an H2 dispenser at a hydrogen filling station. The refueling process for hydrogen vehicles is quite similar to the process that is used by drivers of conventional internal combustion engine vehicles powered by gasoline, ethanol, or diesel. Filling up takes the same amount of time too, between 3-5 minutes for a full tank.

To refill a hydrogen vehicle, put your vehicle in park, and turn it off…just like normal. Then open up the fuel filler that pops open the fuel filler door. Take off the dust cap, go over to the hydrogen pump (which looks like a regular fuel pump), and insert your credit card. After your card is approved, wait for it to tell you that the machine is ready to fill. Pick up the nozzle, pull back on the blue collar, so it passes the yellow stripe insert, and give a little tug to make sure it is connected.  Push your grade, either H70 or H35. The infrared on the nozzle speaks to the car, tells it how much fuel it needs and it begins fueling. As the pumps fills the car it goes through a process of measuring the pressure in the tank, so it will turn off and turn on several times through the fueling process.

When the vehicle is full, hold on to the black handle, pull back on the blue collar pull the nozzle out, and then replace it on the dispensing pump. Put the dust cap back on close the door and you’re ready to go so.   


  • A kilogram is equivalent to two gallons of fuel as far as energy.
  • How much does hydrogen cost – $13 to $16 per kilogram – this is about the same cost of gas today.
  • How much does it cost to fill up a hydrogen car – Approximately $78 to $90, depending on the car and incentives where you live. 
  • The range from that amount of H2 depends on the vehicle.  Some are able to travel more than 300 miles on a complete refilling of H2.
  • The fuel economy is around 70 MPGe (miles per gasoline gallon equivalent)

Find a Hydrogen Fueling Station

Drivers must fill hydrogen vehicles at a hydrogen filling station. Visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center to find hydrogen fueling stations in the United States and Canada.