FirstElement Fuel, a startup led by General Motors Co.’s former marketing chief to speed up the opening of hydrogen-fuel stations in California needed for zero-emission cars recently added Toyota to its investors list with $7,2 mln. Based in Newport Beach, California, FirstElement, plans to operate pumps and sell hydrogen for passenger cars from at least 19 new stations in California. California provides grants worth $46.6 million for hydrogen-fuel stations that will help companies including Toyota, Hyundai Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. build a market for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles arriving this year and next.

“This is really the first step in creating a fueling network that for the first time allows people to use their cars with no limitations,” Ewanick, FirstElement’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. The company was the biggest grant recipient, landing awards totaling $27.6 million.

The California Energy Commission grants will open 28 new hydrogen stations and one mobile refueler in the state, Rachel Grant Kiley, a commission officer, said in a phone interview. California, with jus 9 public hydrogen stations open and 17 in development, announced a program last year worth as much as $200 million to create a 100-station network over a decade.

Toyota plans to sell a Camry-size fuel-cell sedan, as yet unnamed, to California customers in 2015. Honda promises a replacement next year for its FCX Clarity sedan, now leased to a few dozen Los Angeles-area drivers. Hyundai is about to start leases for a fuel-cell version of its Tucson, a crossover vehicle already available in South Korea. General Motors 119 fuel cell vehicles, all modified Chevrolet Equinox crossover SUVs, recently passed 3 million miles of hydrogen-powered driving. (Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)