Toyota made a pretty big bet on hydrogen when it built the Mirai fuel cell sedan. While it appears that the Japanese automaker is now hedging that bet with plans for battery electric vehicles, it's still working to make it easier to live with the Mirai by helping to build a proper hydrogen fueling infrastructure in California. That goal is shared by the state, as well, and the California Energy Commission is considering providing funds to help Toyota and its partner build H2 stations. About that partner, though ... it's Shell.

While an oil giant might seem like an odd bedfellow for advancing an alternative to its own black gold, it makes sense. The fossil fuel industry is beginning to hedge its bets, too, as Shell and Total joined Linde, Air Liquide, and a handful of automakers (Toyota included), among others in creating the Hydrogen Council. Plus, hydrogen is a weapon that Big Oil and Toyota can wield against a common foe: Tesla.

"The enemy of the enemy is a friend," Toyota's Katsuhiko Hirose tells Automotive News. With Tesla CEO Elon Musk simultaneously posing a threat to oil companies and mocking H2, what better way to respond than by funding the alternative to the alternative to fossil fuels? While fuel cell cars offer more range than battery electrics, the lack of fueling infrastructure is an obstacle to adoption. Those with a stake in hydrogen would like to change that.

Together, Shell and Toyota are putting up $11.4 million to install hydrogen fueling equipment at seven retail stations. The California Energy Commission is considering providing an additional $16.4 million in order to help the state reach its goal of 100 hydrogen stations by 2024, up from the current 25.

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