Let's face it: Hydrogen technology still has a ways to go before there's any real chance that we'll all be driving fuel cell cars in lieu of electric or fossil fuel-burning machines. Chief among the issues confronting the widespread adoption of hydrogen for automotive use is manufacturing cost, though that obstacle is currently being worked on. According to Byung Ki-Ahn, general manager of Kia's Mabuk-ri site, "Even if we were producing 50,000 fuel cell cars a year, they would currently have to cost $50,000 each."
While it would be easy for hydrogen proponents to latch on to this statement as good news – and, if true, that pricing is considerably better than we would have predicted – there's more to overcome than just the pricey fuel cell stack. For instance, even if Kia were indeed building 50,000 fuel cell cars per year, there would need to be an adequate infrastructure to support those vehicles. Further, a low cost and eco-friendly process for capturing, storing and transporting large amounts of hydrogen still needs to be developed.
Regardless, it's clear that Kia, along with corporate cousin Hyundai, believe these issues will be worked out in time. When asked where the Korean automaker currently sits on a production-ready hydrogen vehicle, Ki-Ahn said, "On a scale of one to 10, I'd say we we're at six or seven. Before 2020, many people will be hearing about fuel cell vehicles made by Hyundai-Kia."