• May 28th 2009 at 9:36AM
  • 47
Gov. Schwarzenegger at the SAE in April - click for a high res gallery

Previous reports of the death of California's hydrogen highway might have been premature. As part of the 1,700-mile 2009 Hydrogen Road Tour that is currently winding its way from California to Vancouver, BC, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made clear that his state strongly supports hydrogen vehicles and a hydrogen infrastructure, no matter what happens in Washington (and, well, things did happen). After all, the state is still spending money on H2 refueling stations ($6.8 million for four stations just last month) and has big plans for the future. Schwarzenegger told reporters that California will always support hydrogen. According to Green Car Advisor, he added:
And the reason why this is so important is that on the federal level, they [politicians] make decisions based on where the oil price is. That means that sometimes the federal government, when the oil price goes up, they go in the direction of renewable energy and alternate fuels. And when the oil price goes down, they abandon those policies. Well we don't do that here in California. We only march in one direction and that is forward. And we're not going to slow down. In 2010, we will have seven new hydrogen refueling stations in California and we will invest another $40 million over the next two years in hydrogen stations.
Schwarzenegger did say that the state's budget crunch might slow the H2 roll-out, but was confident that private partners could be found to help build the hydrogen fueling stations.

[Source: Green Car Advisor]


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  • 47 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Hydrogen car was introduced as an alternative to electric cars after California's Governor, Pete Wilson, cancelled it's ZEV program. It appears the idea was to divert federal funding from battery development and place it into H2 projects. Why? Because the main source of H2 is by reforming fossil fuels...natural gas, coal and oil. As many know, the strongest and richest lobbyists win in Washington. That would be The American Petroleum Institute...oil companies.

      I wonder what the current governor's story is. He has a difficult budget to deal with this year and is cutting services, school funding, etc. I believe he needs to cancel this project because H2 cars are not really out of the lab yet, much less ready for long distance driving...a million here and there and you can start making a dent in the budget deficit.

        • 6 Years Ago
        If you listen to the Governors speech, it is all platitudes praising H2, but no real promise of any financial support. Instead, he complains about the Feds cutting H2 subsidies, hoping no one present will notice that California has also cut H2 spending.

        There is absolutely no way that the legislature could support spending money to subsidize H2 cars for celebrities and building H2 refueling stations for the oil companies when vital services are being threatened.
      • 6 Years Ago
      All this talk about H2 tanks being safe is just dumb, and I don't care what safety feature and controlled pressure relief an engineer Government Motors designs into it.

      Have you ever been at a childrens birthday party where someone pops a balloon and it makes you jump? Well, a full tank of H2 at 7-10kpsi is just another big F***ing balloon! And when it pops, you won't be able to jump because your feet won't be on the ground!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hydrogen is dead. It's hard for Arnold and Jeremy Clarkson, since they put their bet on this a long time ago.

      Arnold knows that he cannot go forward because of financial pressure. He just wants to go down fighting than be seen as admitting defeat.

      Thank god he's not president. Can you imagine if we had a president that would not change his mind in the face of factual scientific evidence? Oh, right; been there, done that.

      - Nick -

        • 6 Years Ago
        @Richard in Fla:

        I was thinking about W. invading Irak, even after mounting evidence that they had no WMDs. Obama, on the other hand appointed a scientist (Dr. Chu) to handle energy who then cut hydrogen car funding based on feedback from other scientists. So far, so good...
        • 6 Years Ago
        No, We got "Change" from Obama instead. Nice piece of work he is...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Budget Crunch!
      they are looking at being 20 Billion in the red...that's not a crunch its a catastrophe.

      Hydrogen is a dead end for cars. maybe its good aircraft...but not cars.

      The "governator" needs to get his head out of his @ss, and stop wasting money. They don't even know how to follow a budget.

      Here's a simple solution for America: If You Don't Have The Money To Buy It, DON'T.
      • 6 Years Ago
      My apologies to Arnold. I should of spelled his last name Schwarzenegger.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Should of"? That says it all, really.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Re Dietmar #14:

      Efficiency isn't the issue, cost is. I'm interested in my cost/mile regardless of the efficiency of the fuel cycle. If hydrogen suddenly became available from a well (affording nearly 100% efficiency) but cost me $10/mile and gasoline was available for say, $0.10/mile; I'm going with the gasoline.
        • 6 Years Ago
        A kilogram of H2 has almost the same energy as a gallon of gasoline, so it is considered a "Gallon of Gasoline Equivalent" or "GGE". Current retail price of H2 ranges from $8 to $10 per Kg. Burn it in an internal combustion engine, and you've more than doubled your fuel costs.

        A fuel cell is twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine, effectively cutting the per mile cost in half, but it would still cost slightly more than driving on gasoline - but hydrogen storage tanks are expensive, and an automotive sized fuel cell alone is a half million dollar item.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm very happy to hear Governor Schwarzegger reiterate his support for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at the 2009 Hydrogen Road Tour (which is off to a great start!).

      Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with small batteries are the only technology that can be scaled up globally and meet customer needs for driving range, fueling time, cost when mass produced, and passenger/trunk space. While the initial hydrogen will be produced from natural gas (which is much cleaner than gasoline in an internal combustion engine), this is only a bridge to hydrogen from wind power and then from solar power.

      The truth is that oil companies actually have very little interest in hydrogen other than setting up exhibits at conferences. Shell recently announced that they would be cutting back on wind, solar, and hydrogen and focusing on biofuels.

      Furthermore, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be at dealerships in 2015.

      I would highly recommend reading the following article which is titled the "Top 25 things I wish President Barack Obama knew about hydrogen fuel cell cars and plug-in battery cars":

      http://hydrogendiscoveries.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/top-25-things-i-wish-president-barack-obama-knew-about-hydrogen-fuel-cell-cars-and-plug-in-battery-cars/

      Regarding the comment that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are "essentially like driving around with a bomb", the truth is that they are as safe if not safer than gasoline-powered vehicles. The vehicles have passed all government safety standards and hundreds of them are on the road today.

      Here is an article that discusses this which includes quotes from the car companies:

      http://hydrogendiscoveries.wordpress.com/2008/04/09/hydrogen-fact-3-hydrogen-cars-are-safe/

      Greg Blencoe
      Chief Executive Officer
      Hydrogen Discoveries, Inc.
      "Hydrogen Car Revolution" blog
        • 6 Years Ago
        The H2 road tour is a promotional effort for the H2 Hype, and The Governor was having a little photo op along the way. Being a good politician, Arnold was expressing his support in words only, careful to not promise any real monetary support. Anything to curry favor without actually doing anything that could cause trouble later on. Truth is, California cannot afford to spend another dime on the H2 hype, and Arnold knows that. But it wouldn't be politic to point out that California state government cannot continue H2 subsidies, let alone say what a bad deal H2 fueled cars really are.

        No, H2 FC vehicles are NOT the only technology that "can be scaled up globally and meet customer needs". Perhaps you haven't seen the Tesla Model S? A hatchback electric sedan with room for 7, luggage space front and back, battery range up to 300 miles, with an "under 2 minute" quick battery swap option, millions of charging locations, and best of all, it will be mass produced years before any H2 cars arrive in showrooms anywhere. That's just one of a long list of plug-ins to be marketed well before 2015, there will be plug-ins for every market segment, every need.

        Trying to claim the Oil companies have little interest in H2 is really silly, when that photo op was at the Shell Hydrogen Station! The REAL truth is that almost all of the H2 promotional groups are heavily funded by their oil company members (just see the membership lists). Oil companies have the cheapest source of H2, and they plan to sell that profitable new fuel when the oil runs low. Granted, they want the government to fund the building of their H2 stations, they'd rather not dip into their immense financial reserve to fund that construction themselves. They are businessmen, they do realize what a highly risky investment H2 is.

        Your "top 25 things" is just a list of quotes from various H2 boosters, with very little in the way of facts. It has already been refuted, and it is interesting to note that all those quoted are bringing some sort of hybrid or plug-in to market well before 2015.

        That article on hydrogen safety was enlightening. There are a lot of elaborate devices that are required to bring even a modicum of safety to those vehicles, including H2 sensors and shutoff valves. Not only do all those precautions add considerably to the cost, but there is a potential for those sensors to be triggered unexpectedly, causing the car to stop working. Of course, it is very difficult to safely contain the smallest and most leak prone of molecules, especially at a pressure of 10,000 psi. (yes, 5 TONS per square inch!)
        • 6 Years Ago
        Here we go again with Greg and his lies.

        Hydrogen vehicles will be at dealerships in 2015? Really? At dealerships of what company, then? What will their size, range, performance be, and most importantly, what will they cost?
        No you don't, because anything you ever hear from the automakers are vague and ambiguous statements that amount to nothing more than PR. Hydrogen cars have been "only five or ten years away" for over twenty years now, and will continue to be so because the problem aren't the cars, the problem is the hydrogen.
        Even if HFCVs could ever be produced at a cost that is competitive with EVs and ICE-powered cars, it wouldn't work.

        Please explain to me how hydrogen can in any way be scaled to meet global demands that is even remotely cost effective? Especially using only renewables, which are hard enough to adapt for meeting our basic energy needs as is.

        "The truth is that oil companies actually have very little interest in hydrogen other than setting up exhibits at conferences."
        That, at least, may be true, in the sense that they are probably not actually interested in ever building a functional hydrogen infrastructure. They have people far smarter than you working for them, they know that it can't possibly be cost competitive. Or would the few existing refueling stations have been built without government subsidies?
        They are, however highly interested in hydrogen as a way to leech goverment grants and stifle the adoption of EVs and renewable energy sources that lend themselves well to decentralization, in addition to it being a great PR tool.
      • 6 Years Ago
      California should go bankrupt.
        • 6 Years Ago
        This nonsense will end once Gavin Newsom is elected Governor of California.
        • 6 Years Ago
        • 6 Years Ago
        UberSil: The University of Waterloo has several projects at WatCAR (Waterloo Center for Automotive Research), including race cars, solar cars, ethanol, propane, hybrids, off-road racing, software engineering, and, yes, hydrogen fuel cell cars.

        H2 fuel cells are twice as efficient as internal combustion engines, but the improved efficiency doesn't come from Hydrogen, it comes from the fuel cells. Use Hydrogen fuel in an internal combustion engine and there is no gain in efficiency and a notable drop in power output. Combining the poor efficiency of internal combustion engines with the bulky low density nature of H2 gas makes for very short driving ranges! A Prius converted to run on H2, at a conversion cost of $70,000 (not including the Prius) had a range of only 80 miles per tank. Filling the trunk space with extra tanks (at extra cost) boosted the range to just 150 miles. And that is with hybrid efficiency!

        Even worse for H2 is that batteries and chargers are 85% efficient at storing electrical energy, but the combination of electrolysis and compression for storage and H2 fuel cell is only 24% efficient at storing electrical energy. Batteries are 3x more efficient! It is no wonder that both Ford and GM are concentrating their efforts on EVs and plug-in hybrids, relegating H2 fuel cells to a possible future "range extender" role only. Of course, introduction of improved batteries, rapid charging systems, or battery swap systems could make H2 fuel cell vehicles obsolete before they arrive.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Although a little harsh, I can't say I don't agree. California is always two steps forward and 3 back. I have a lot of respect for the strides they have taken in being a leader in solar, cutting pollution, etc.. But they are so ass backwards and screwed up in so many other ways.

        I think they are up a big creek with a really small paddle and will be so for many years to come.
        • 6 Years Ago
        And on the other hand I'm actually now thinking about moving to California. You think hydrogen is a bad idea? Then why did the University of Waterloo successfully create a hydrogen engine conversion on an SUV that drove from Detroit to Toronto with half the fuel consumption of a factory model of the same SUV?
        Hydrogen as a fuel is better than gasoline.
        It's when people start trying to create hydrogen out of thin air that the rest of us look like serious idiots.
        It's a fuel and needs to be distributed the same way as gas.
        The only difference is that it's more efficient at it's job.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The president said he does have any money and this guy wants to build a road to nowhere? Arny makes Palin look smart.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Astroturf Alert!!!

      I've been looking over the posts of the pro-hydrogen posts, and a good chunk of these "different" posters have the exact same writing style

      * A tendency to capitalize words like "Oil" and "Hydrogen" unless quoting someone who didn't capitalize them
      * Lack of commas before the conjunction on compound sentences
      * Fondness of all caps
      * Unusual hyphenation habits
      * Single space between sentences (more common than not, but still worthy of note)

      Oh, and for what it matters: "Dietmar"'s hydrogen numbers are laughably wrong. Biomass having the same well to wheel as natural gas? Oh please. 27% well to wheel for a H2-FCEV? Ha! The average coal power plant efficiency in the US is 34%. Electrolysis alone would lose notably more energy than that! So would the fuel cell alone, by an even larger margin. Or are you counting on coal gassification and then H2 separation, somehow magically with enough purity to run in a (very impurity-sensitive) H2FC? Even then your numbers are way too optimistic, *and* you'd have to credit the EVs with coal gassification power efficiencies, which can be over 50% -- a 50% efficiency boost from the US average coal generation efficiency.

      Face it: hydrogen loses. It's always going to lose. Physics says it must lose. End of story.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Let's go with a metaphor for this one:

      Californians traveling a road get to a river with no crossing. Best solution, they decide, is to build a (very, very complex) raft to get them across. Meanwhile, a bridge is built next to them.

      Arnold keeps on building the raft.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I agree with the Gubernator! Way to stand your ground and keep with the direction to which you committed long ago. If only our national government weren't as fickle in their energy policy, maybe we'd get something done as a nation instead of abruptly changing course every time we think something MIGHT be better. For the first time in a long time I think California is definitely in the right.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think what Cosmosis means is, when you "burn" hydrogen (H2) all you get is H20. There are no noxious or deadly gases that come out the tailpipe. In that respect, there is no contest, all other fuels are more polluting.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree totally with Matt (and with the linear planning of Gov. Schwarzenegger) and disagree greatly with "MG" and the fuzzy scare logic he is employing in his argument.

        -all of those problems are readily solvable given time and investment, and none of them are totally monolithic or unique to hydrogen. Indeed, the same answer is true for electricity generation; it may come from dirty power now, but that is a rectifiable problem.
        -and the "driving on a bomb" suggestion is retarded, but not unusual: they said the same thing about gasoline propulsion back in the turn of the 20th Century. Such a suggestion is even more silly now than it was then because we have had an entire century's worth of development in hazardous material storage since then.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ah, the here come the hydrogen heads.

        "There is no contest."
        W R O N G. There is plenty of contest from biofuels and EVs. Hydrogen may be (barely) cleaner than oil, but it's certainly dirtier than everything else, including natural gas, and certainly far more expensive.
        The problems with hydrogen are not rectifiable because they arise from its very physical properties.

        I was just waiting for the "but people thought gasoline was dangerous too!" retort. That belief was never widespread, and it was just that: A myth, ironically in part perpetuated by the EV industry back then.
        Conversely, the dangers of compressed hydrogen -well, any compressed gas- are real. Pressure tanks don't usually explode like a bomb, but you know, a bottle of compressed air with its valve knocked off can go through a solid brick wall and blow a hex nut through a wooden door. And the pressure in those is far lower than in automotive tanks.
        Hydrogen itself is a highly flammable, often explosive, colorless, odorless gas that diffuses through many materials and burns with an almost invisible flame. Gasoline is far from harmless itself, but at least is fairly safe in liquid form and the vapor is easily detectable by smell.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The topic was Oil vs FC. Of course diesel hybrids and other technologies and bio fuels can compete. In terms of oil, H2FC, no matter which fuel pathway, is much cleaner and consume much less energy than a conventional gasoline vehicle (www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/HV/300.pdf). Argonne and many other credible sources have been reporting for decades. This is basic stuff and yet none of you bring any credible sources to back up the claims.


        What problems are not rectifiable? These cars just aren't bob the builder cars. They have been crash tested and certified for on road use. If they are so dangerous, do you think auto companies would put them on the road with a class act waiting to happen? Auto companies are/were private businesses. If they thought they could build a car and sell them in mass quantity at a profit, they would.

        You might call me a hydrogen head but I'm more of a "get-us-away from-foreign-oil" head. I don't care which technology it is. I support EV, PHEV, FCHVs. Each technology has it's pro's and cons. Have you driven an EV or PHEV in cold climates? I have, and as much as I'd love to have a PHEV TODAY, the battery technology just isn't here unless you want to make sacrifices. We should be joining together to support technologies that help us attain this goal.
        • 6 Years Ago
        A common tactic of H2 advocates is to compare the "best case" scenario of H2 to the "worst case" for batteries, in an attempt to make H2 look better. The figures Dietmar quoted reminds me of that, with below average figures for fossil fuel to electrical efficiency, and listing the record high efficiency for electrolysis - yes, high temperature electrolysis has hit 80% electrical efficiency, but only if the heat energy input is ignored. Room temperature electrolysis is closer to 50% efficient. The record high efficiency of natural gas-electricity is held by the GE H system combined cycle generating plant at 60%, that would lead to a EV-Gas WTW efficiency of 47%, quite a bit higher than for H2-gas WTW efficiency quoted.

        But even the figures Ditmar used showed EVs only fractionally lower efficiency than H2 when using coal, tied on natural gas, and 2x more efficient using renewable electricity.

        Which leads to another tactic the H2 promoters use. They assume that all increased use of electricity for BEVs will come from polluting coal, but somehow, all that H2 will come only from renewables and clean natural gas! Fact is, both electricity and H2 are made from all of the same energy sources, but for renewable sources, electricity has to be made first, and as we've seen, batteries are much more efficient with that electricity. Not only that, but the plan is to start with providing most of the H2 from steam reformed natural gas and steam reformed coal, as that is much less expensive than other H2 sources. H2 from renewable sources is put off until some vague far future time.
        • 6 Years Ago
        There`s to be seen a lot of polemic answers to this post, it's a pity that people repeat in such a convinced manner half-certainities and arguments who do not with stand on a real basis.

        The only more efficient way (than a Hydrogen - powered Hybrid fuel cell vehicle) on a well-to wheel (WTW) basis is a pure battery vehicle that gets it's electricty directely from renewable energy sources solar and wind.

        Each argument, oil and an internal combustion engine are more efficient or more clean are abolutely NON-SENSE and untrue.

        The real dates (valid for 2009):

        Key assumptions (efficiencies):

        Coal - electricity: 35 %
        Gas - electricity: 45 %
        Biomass - electricity: 30 %
        Coal - Hydrogen: 65 %
        Gas - Hydrogen: 75 %
        Biomass - Hydrogen: 70%
        Battery & PCS: 85 %
        Fuel cell & PCS: 50 %
        Electricity transmission: 92%
        H2 compression & distribution: 86%
        Renewable electricity - Hydrogen: 80 %
        Electric motor efficiency: 90 %

        Efficiency chains:

        Internal combustión engine- crude oil: 17 %

        EV-Coal: 24% WTW.
        EV-Gas: 32 % WTW
        EV-Biomass: 21 % WTW
        EV- renewable electricity (solar, wind, hydro): 69 %

        H2-FCEV - coal: 27 % WTW
        H2-FCEV - gas: 32% WTW
        H2-FCEV - biomass: 32% WTW
        H2-FCEV - renewable electricity (solar, wind, hydro): 34 %
        H2-FCEV - renewable termocycles: 42 %

        If you take a clear look, the most efficient way is directly used renewable electricty, 4 times more efficient than Oil-ICE and 2 times more efficient than Hybrid fuel cell vehicle based on hydrogen extracted from renewable electricity.

        What people always forget is that hydrogen can extracted from much more primary energy resources.
        The comparison also shows that all WTW chains are more efficient for Hydrogen propelled Fuel cell vehicles (based on 2009 efficiencies), exept direct usage of renewable electricity with Li-Ion batteries in pure electric vehicles.

        That means, that all the people that are that keen about HEV or PHEV's do not want to realize that they will still rely on (foreign) oil, and that the overall efficiency of their HEV or PHEV will be always worse than the corresponding WTW chain for H2- fuel cell hybrid vehicles.

        I also do not understand why people are creating these opposits between battery vs. fuel cells. Each of the technology has it's advantage and drawabacks, but they complement each other. Fuel cell propelled cars need a battery and/or supercapacitor for hybridization, and the pure battery electric vehicle seems to be still years away to be fully economically feasible.

        Why does the government in teh states not try to push BOTH technologies with the objective to have sinergies in development of both and drift away from (foreign) oil. In lot's of applications there maybe will be in a near future feasibility for pure batetry electric vehicles, but in a lot's of applications there will be better a hybrid propulsion system.

        Is the "hybrid" with internal combustion engine the tribute to both oil companies and electric utilities? Maybe it is the most "convenient" and comfortable way for carmakers to not crash with interets of both.

        This would certainly explain the "Anti-Hydrogen" and "Anti-fuel cell" climate that this people are bringing up, which is not necessarily the same, but is confronting batteries and hydrogen.

        Don't consider me a Hydrogen advocate, but i want the people to realize that interest are moving policy, and people should first think about all options and real efficienies on a WTW basis before they are repeating the (wrong) arguments of other (influenced) people.

        Thanks, stand strong for change,

        Dietmar



        • 6 Years Ago
        Those H2 storage tanks are holding pressures of 7,000 psi (FCX Clarity) to 10,000 psi (GM), that is 3.5 to 5 tons PER SQUARE INCH! That's why those tanks have to be made from exotic and expensive carbon fiber composites, steel isn't strong enough. Any failure of that tank would lead to an explosion, not a "mere leak", even if the H2 didn't ignite - and it ignites very readily.

        That makes H2 quite a bit more hazardous than your average petrol tank. .
        • 6 Years Ago
        Dirtier than oil? With the most common pathway for well-to-wheel (which isn't the cleanest) hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are much cleaner than oil. There is no contest.

        Also, anything with stored energy on board can be considered a "bomb". Do you know much energy is in 14 gallons of gasoline? That's many times more stored energy than what's stored in hydrogen vehicles! Wow, I DROVE A BOMB TO WORK TODAY! There are valid arguments against hydrogen but I'm tired of hearing the FUD.
        • 6 Years Ago
        So, Chris, you don't like H2? Got it.

        Why can't we have both? PHEVs with fuel cell range extenders, at least until the battery tech comes around. I mean, you've gotta have a battery in the fuel cell vehicles anyway, why not make it a 40 mile battery with a xxx mile hydrogen range extender? Why does everyone always think one or the other? I think the way this thread started was I said that Arnold did the right thing in affirming his [prior] commitment to hydrogen refueling stations. Can anyone say without a doubt that he should not have done that; abandon the people he made commitments to and leave them high and dry with hydrogen vehicles they can't fuel? WTF? Investments have been made, they should at least be brought to fruition. Sometimes integrity counts even if it's not the absolute 100% best solution to a problem.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Oh, anybody who is scared of compressed gases should check out the safety regs on compressed gas containers. Even the compressed air tanks for paintball markers have to be able to take a bullet and not "explode." These tanks are made to leak if damaged, and are designed so that they discharge their pressure in a controlled fashion. Even if you happened to somehow rupture a hydrogen tank over a fire, a BLEVE is very unlikely. What is more likely is that you will have several minutes of steel melting colorless fire spewing from a hole. Is that dangerous? Sure. Have you ever witnessed a gasoline car fire? Same steel melting flame, just colorful and spread all around the car, consuming the entire vehicle, making a rescue very unlikely.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Have you even done any research about Hydrogen? Or do you just believe what the media tells you? Hydrogen is dirtier than oil. It takes energy to make it, energy to compress and cool it, energy to transport it, and the fuel cells are horribly expensive and inefficient. Not to mention that Hydrogen has to be stored under immense pressure, which is essentially like driving around with a bomb.
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