Mary Nichols Shares the Joys of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ride

Originally Published in LA Magazine
March 10, 2016

I met up with Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, at the same place that she likes to take her 1½ year old grandson every Sunday… a gas station in West Los Angeles.

He loves to watch his grandma fuel up her brand new Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) and Nichols loves that she doesn’t have to expose her grandson to noxious gasoline odors. During our interview we hovered between the dispenser and the Mirai, gawking at technology that countless engineers have seamlessly integrated to create normaldriving and fueling experiences. It took a couple of minutes before I noticed an unusual traffic jam as a Mercedes F-Cell waited patiently to fuel up behind us. Nichols told me that was the first time that had happened to her, but she’s sure it won’t be the last.

Nichols, one of our state government’s most prominent environmental leaders, has been named as one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world for being a fierce champion of the cutting-edge technology and environmental regulations that have now been adopted by California, the U.S. and beyond.

As head of Energy Independence Now, the only nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the FCEV marketplace, I was eager to get Nichols’s impressions of the Mirai and the new hydrogen fueling stations popping up across California. For more than a decade, EIN has been one of California’s leading advocates and architects of the state’s Hydrogen Highway and we’re committed to ensuring that FCEVs play a leading role in California’s zero emission vehicle future. I usually have to travel to Sacramento from my home in L.A. for meetings like this one, but today I was delighted that I only had to travel about 4 miles to meet Nichols at one of the state’s newest hydrogen fueling stations.

—Brian Goldstein

L.A. Driver: What made you want to purchase a fuel cell vehicle?
Nichols: Someone told me I should put my money where my mouth is. This isn’t my first clean vehicle, as I also own a Honda FIT electric vehicle that I love. But it is certainly the most luxurious car I’ve ever owned. I really appreciate the sense of comfort I feel when I drive the car, the impressive safety features and I really love the color — maritime blue. That makes me happy.

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