• Jun 10, 2006
Senior researchers from automakers around the world agree that internal combustion engines will dominate the automotive market for decades to come, even though hydrogen fuel cells are becoming an attractive replacement technology.
Volkswagen's Wolfgang Steiger predicted that fuel cell cars will not reach 1 percent of new car sales before 2030, growing to a 50 percent market share 20 years later. A DaimlerChrysler researcher was slightly more optimistic, forecasting a single-digit share of the new-car market as early as 2020. Ford Motor's Gerhard Schmidt swung the other way, saying a 50 percent market share by 2050 seemed optimistic.

Filling the gap? Hybrids. Toyota expects its hybrid sales to blow through the 1 million units a year milestone early next decade, with auto parts supplier Bosch forecasting hybrid sales of 2.4 million units a year by 2015.

Meanwhile, dramatic improvement in the efficiency of gasoline engines, together with the development of clean diesels, is giving the internal combustion engine a new lease on life.

With U.S. automakers well behind the power curve of hybrid technology development and product rollout (Ford's hybrids notwithstanding), basing their strategies on an ethanol-based transition to a hydrogen future could leave them on the outside looking in, provided hybrids gain the hearts and minds of car buyers in the next decade.

[Source: Reuters]


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  • 10 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      And please don't try to use a technicality because you also stated "product rollout". There is lots of implication. Implying that they could possibly be doing the ethanol thing (and little to no hybrid thing) prior to Hydrogen. Because we already know of the BAS, two-mode Tahoe and Saab working on an independent version all GM.

      The implications are the killer with your statements. As if you don't know of anything coming out very very soon.
      • 8 Years Ago
      How much more energy does it take to make an E85 fuel, or a hybrid vehicle than not? And now that federal tax incentives are being removed thanks to increased sales since Katrina, the option of anything alternative has to be an even bigger personal desire as financial incetives will disappear.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Mal-
      While there are a couple examples of IC engines running on hydrogen right now, like what jiim was talking about, hydrogen fuel cells are what most people are looking at as the wave of the future like the headline states, and those don't actually combust the hydrogen. They convert hydrogen into electricity directly through the use of a proton exchange membrane.... i'm sure howstuffworks.com has a great explanation.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Guyincognito, it appears you arn't aware how a battery actully works. A battery works through a redox reaction, where two electrodes are connected by a wire and are imersed in an electrolite. One electrode begins to effectivily dissolve, transfering electrons to the other electrode, thus producing a flow of electrons in the wire between electrodes; the production of electricity. A hydrogen fuel cell is simply a different version of this technology. Oxygen is pumped into one half of the cell, where it reacts with the first electrode. Hydrogen is pumped into the other half, where it reacts with the other electrode, and an electrolite is placed between the electrodes providing a path for electron travel. The reacted gas then is pumped out of the cell. A hydrogen fuel cell is just a different kind of battery and is favorable because it's production of energy continues as long as hydrogen and oxygen are supplied, and unlike a current car battery which contains sulfuric acid and lead, both very harmful materials, contains nothing that could not be safely released into the enviroment. However, these are not effective alternatives as they simply "shunt" the repsonsiblilty. In order to charge all of these proposed fuel cells, more generating stations, likely fossil fuel-powered, will be required. The only true solution to our growing energy needs is a reduction in useage, not a increase in supply.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I am new to this so don't yell at me.
      What is the problem with Hybrids? Everyone I talk to would love to have one if they were not so expensive. So who is taking the polls? If the tech. is here why not roll it out for all to enjoy?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I am just not buying this hydrogen as the wave of the future idea. The whole process seems too inefficient. Why use electricity to make hydrogen to make electricity? Why not just work on improving batteries and going directly to electric vehicles?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Mr. Waterman,

      Your wording suggests that when hydrogen is adopted as a fuel it won't be for use in an internal combustion engine. How's it going to work? Blow hydrogen out the tailpipe with such velocity that zoom goes the car!
      • 8 Years Ago
      "With U.S. automakers well behind the power curve of hybrid technology development and product rollout (Ford's hybrids notwithstanding), basing their strategies on an ethanol-based transition to a hydrogen future could leave them on the outside looking in, provided hybrids gain the hearts and minds of car buyers in the next decade."

      That sounds a little anti-American and anti-GM. So U.S. automakers are far behind with Ford notwithstanding? Well that leaves only GM then doesn't it (except for those who don't follow the car industry very closely and never heard any DCX execs say it wasn't a merger of equals)? But wait, who is GM "well behind" in the hybrid game? Are any of the Koreans years ahead of GM's two mode hybrid Tahoe coming out? How about the Germans, how many German full hybrids will be out before GM's? Wait, GM has a light hybrid like Bosch's too, and Bosch was mentioned (ever hear of the VUE coming out in mere months? Back to the other players... So, after Honda axes the Insight Honda will have an Accord and Civic hybrid and GM will have a VUE and Malibu hybrids (and a very measily Silverado version with hardly any gains but we won't count it) in 2007, right? You know, the Accord which is such a stunning hybrid that it gets like $650 tax credit or something. Is GM going to have more hybrids than Ford (who was nonwithstanding) available in 2007? They easily could.

      GM is clearly behind Toyota in hybrids and slightly behind Honda (closely matched in 2007 as far as number of models offered). If that is what you meant by them being "well behind" then my question is how many haters are going to perceive your words as them being behind the rest of the world and not just behind 1 or 2 companies? So, why did you pick just the Americans (actually just GM) as being so well behind? Looks like the world is behind Toyota in hybrid technology not just American companies (or more specifically GM).

      Honda must be behind Toyota as well and far enough that they didn't just make the Insight a sedan for 2006 or 2007 and call it a (money making) day, now did they?

      How about Eric doing a comparison of the Bosch hybrid system and GM's BAS? Why him? He is the only autoblogger that does original material (and a day in the garage doesn't count).

      Then a comparison of GM's two mode system coming out in the Tahoe. Yes, great idea. Please compare and contrast all known hybrid systems from the major auto manufacturers and SHOW how GM is "well behind"?

      http://www.gm.com/company/gmability/adv_tech/300_hybrids/hyb_timeline.html
      • 8 Years Ago
      My thoughts are on the same lines, Lithous. GM is not behind in hybrid technology, but they haven't put out enough hybrids is more the issue than anything. GM has developed hybrid technology more for industry until now.

      Ethanol is a play to get good message about GM's vision of a cleaner environment. Frankly, it's more original and effective if they lead that way in the PR race than give Toyota even more credit than it's due for hybrids. Hybrid and Ethanol vehicles are good transitional technologies but not the best options, I think. Diesel technology is more likely to have better results and be more economical for consumers in the near future.
      jim
      • 8 Years Ago
      i fell that hydrogen can be the fuel of the future but car companys should focus on hydrogen internal combustion right now and the fuel cell could come alittle faster later on as the hydrogen infestructure is build for the hydrogen-gasoline hybrids that they could roll out soon