• Jul 24th 2009 at 1:59PM
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Kia Borrego FCEV - Click above for high-res image gallery

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."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      My race car has a fuel cell right now... what are they talking about? Oh... a DIFFERENT kind of fuel cell?
      • 6 Years Ago
      you mean i could get a Rolls Phantom with fuel cell for only $50K? sign me up. That 50k figure is useless. It should be more along the lines of "it costs X more". Did they mean a Kia Forte would cost $50k?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes, xtasi. Kia meant they will be creating a hydrogen car just like the Phantom for $50k.
      • 6 Years Ago
      While $50,000 is a lot for a car, I'm actually surprised how low this figure is. It makes me think that affordable fuel cell vehicles aren't TOO far away (if we can build the infrastructure)
      • 6 Years Ago
      One thing that is rarely mentioned in these articles but is being worked on is conversions for existing ICE engines to run hydrogen. In the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome future, when we are out of oil, methane and hytdrogen can be used to run an existing car without too much modification. And there are a LOT of ICE cars/trucks/bikes out there, that's a huge market. When gasoline because unattainable, someone, somewhere is going to get stinking rich selling compressed gas conversions and the fuel to supply them.
        • 6 Years Ago
        In Mad Max they were combusting Hydrogen and Methane, the same way BMW does. That is different from a fuel cell which creates electricity. A Hydrogen combustion engine is very similar to a gasoline engine. In the linked article, Kia is saying that the fuel cell is expensive.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm still not a fan of driving around in a liquid bomb.
        • 6 Years Ago
        My god the ignorance on this subject is quite extreme. Right now you are driving around with a plastic or thin metal gas tank filled with enough fuel to level your car if it catches fire. If that tank leaks, the fuel spreads out in a puddle to envelope the entire car and those around it.

        Hydrogen on the other hand, if it escapes it's cylinder, one which is fiberglass or carbon fiber wraped by the way, it rises because it is lighter than air. If nothing ignites it, it quickly dissipates. If it should ignite, it will burn in a vertical column like a propane torch that you can stand next to without so much as a worry.

        If the worse case happens and it escapes into the cabin or other enclosed space, sensors will alert you to this in any car developed to run on hydrogen, safely nullifying the problem as simple as opening a window. If by some change the gas fills an enclosed space, and you somehow have an ignition source go off in that space, then yes, it will explode just like gasoline fumes do.

        Millions of hydrogen, propane and other compressed gas cylinders are transported on our roads every single day, many without the safety measures that would be in place on a purpose built hydrogen car like the BMW Hydrogen 7. When's the last time you heard of one of these cylinders going off "like a bomb" on the road?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Heard about people driving the FCX Clarity yet?
        • 6 Years Ago
        What do you drive around in right now? Wouldn't happen to be something with gallons of explosive gasoline in it, would it?
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