"A lot of auto makers believe the fuel-cell vehicle is just a better performing vehicle and just makes more sense." So says Kevin See, a senior analyst of electric vehicles at Lux Research in Boston, told CNN. It's not a surprising thing to say, but it again shows commitments by automakers to develop hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles have been increasing lately. Toyota, Hyundai, Daimler and Honda all see them as vital alternative energy options, perhaps even more important than battery-electric vehicles.

Hyundai has been planning to offer a fuel-cell version of its ix35 sport utility vehicle (known as the Tucson in the US) for lease by the end of this year. As for production, Hyundai will be building 1,000 fuel-cell cars by 2015, and beyond that, up to 10,000 fuel-cell cars a year. The company is committed to both fuel cell and battery-powered vehicles – fuel cells for heavier and mid-size cars and battery-powered for smaller ones, Byung Ki Ahn, general manager of fuel-cell research at Hyundai, told CNN.

Toyota and Honda have both said they will release a fuel-cell car in 2015. Honda already has the FCX Clarity (pictured) available for lease in California, and Mercedes-Benz leases its F-Cell car in that same market.

Just like with plug-in vehicles, infrastructure is key to H2 vehicles. That's why Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai have joined forces to expand the hydrogen fueling network throughout the Nordic region. They've agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with government representatives from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland and are committed to supporting fuel-cell vehicle refueling infrastructure development from 2014 to 2017.

Why are these automakers committed to rolling out fuel-cell vehicles? Stop us if you've heard this before, but the answer from the OEMs revolves around the fact that they can travel much farther than electric vehicles after a refueling, said refueling can be done in about five minutes and fuel cells are more adaptable to large vehicles like trucks and SUVs than battery-powered vehicles. They're considered by some to be the cleanest energy source for emissions, only releasing water vapor from the tailpipe, and come from the most abundant element in the universe.

Still, the barriers to mass adoption of fuel-cell vehicles are steep. The price point is pretty high. For the two hydrogen-powered cars currently available in the US, the payments are much more than most consumers can stomach. The FCX Clarity is available for $600 a month on a three-year lease, while the F-Cell three-year lease goes for $849 a month, plus tax.

The other problem is fueling stations. The Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center says there are only nine hydrogen stations in the US (excluding private stations), and these are all in California.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 254 Comments
      ElectricAvenue
      • 2 Years Ago
      What? A fuel cell vehicle has everything a BEV has, *plus* a fuel cell and tank and all associated parts, *minus* some portion of the total capacity of the battery. So, for your statement to "FCVs are lighter than BEVs" to be true, you would need to show that the fuel cell part is lighter than the additional battery capacity. For your statement "FCVs have longer ranges than BEVs" to be true, you would have to show that the hydrogen tank and fuel cell provide a longer range than the additional battery capacity. Neither statement seems to me to be true in all cases. It is certainly possible to create a BEV with a longer range than a FCV. Indeed, as has been pointed out, that is already the case - the Tesla Model S with 85kWh battery will go slightly farther than an FCX Clarity (based on the same EPA test - 265 miles vs 240). One statement which seems obvious *and* always to be the case, is that a BEV is simpler than a FCV.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Neither statement seems to me to be true in all cases. " I'm sorry, but your opinion is simply wrong. Here's a simple illustration: http://www.blogcdn.com/green.autoblog.com/media/2010/05/hawaii-hydrogen-2.jpg An FCV stores more energy, in less volume and mass, using compressed hydrogen than a BEV can store in a battery. That's why FCVs have such drastically longer ranges than BEVs. The Clarity FCX you mention is a generation old, current FCVs are able to go 400+ miles on a single fill. http://www.nrel.gov/hydrogen/pdfs/toyota_fchv-adv_range_verification.pdf
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      I was lampooning korblalak who commented immediately before: "korblalak Most Hydrogen comes from the reformation of hydrocarbons. H2 is dirty, dangerous and wasteful."
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lux research also said batteries will cost 400$/kWh in 2020. They don't know what they are talking about. It's incredible that the hydrogen fuel cell keeps coming up when the fatal drawbacks are so well established. Hyundai wont sell hydrogen cars in 2015 or ever. Just the 3 times lower energy efficiency is decisive in itself but there are of course several other fatal problems. The lack of infrastructure could in principle be solved while the other problems can't but even that will kill it.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        You don't do mathematics, do you?
        DaveMart
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        I have already laid out many times the calculation showing that your sweeping claim of '3 times the energy efficiency' is fantasy. What has not been provided by yourself is any substantiation at all for it.
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      Any discussion about producing hydrogen from any dirty energy source, after SANDY, is the mark of the Insanity of the CEO class.
        RC
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Ford Future
        CEOs are shameless these days.
      Smurf
      • 2 Years Ago
      The only real problem I can see is that progress for a hydrogen infrastructure and hydrogen fueled vehicles is much slower than we would like, with price/cost being the main reason. But, just like with BEV's, progress continues to be made.... We are further along this year than last year and the year before that etc. As long as we continue to make progress, I see no reason to abandon any efforts for hydrogen. "You can't win if you don't play." I look into the future and I still see a world dominated by BEV's and hydrogen. The only question is "when" each will dominate.
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Smurf
        What about PHEVs dominating them both? Has the infrastructure of todays ICE cars, has the range of today's ICE cars, has close to the emissions and operating costs of BEVs. Petroleum will never "go away" but be relagated to serving smaller and smaller applications. And with PHEVs approaching 90% Electric mode usage, that is enough of a redution in gasoline use. Rather than building a whole new infrastructure, to get us addicted to Natural Gas.
          Smurf
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Agreed... I lumped PHEV's in with BEV's when talking about the future. I also agree on petroleum serving smaller and smaller applications. I'm at 75% electric miles in my Volt after 1 year. As more and more folks purchase PHEV's/EREV's think of the impact? To date, even with less than 30,000 Volts on the road, we have saved over 5 million gallons of gasoline...
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          PHEVs are really good at allowing a growth of public charging infrastructure, without having any barriers to adoption. PHEVs are likely to dominate for a while, helping to provide customer demand for more chargers. When chargers are literally everywhere (more than 10 years)... and even PHEVs are able to fast charge. Gasoline/Diesel usage will be so low.. it will be hard to make any case for a completely new fueling paradigm that requires massive investment like Hydrogen. Sure, the vast charging infrastructure will be very expensive... but it can grow slowly over time.. and in parallel to plugin car sales.... which most people should understand how larger bills spread out over time, is still preferable to the big risky upfront cost. Also, the charging infrastructure costs are likely to be spread out to the property owners where the chargers are located.... rather than a big upfront investment by a few large corporations who want to pass the costs to taxpayers by having the government pay for it.
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well, it's always good to hear from Dave Mart. But why bother to continue with this debate ? The issue has nothing to do with oil companies, or any strange conspiracy theories. It's a very simple equation, which ever technology can deliver affordable, long range, fast refueling, and convenience, will become the dominant technology ! So far, neither FCV's or BEV's have solved all the drawbacks to their technologies (although EV's are closer). So it's absolutely pointless condemning one, or the other. In time , an alternate automotive energy storage/system may emerge employing technology that is completely different from both ! The important thing is that research continues to be conducted all over the world into finding different types of Fossil fuel replacements. What's important to be grateful for, is that it is now almost certain that over the next 30 years a technology will evolve to meet the challenge of oil depletion for transport use.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Thanks Marco. The reason I decided to post was because I have now done the work to find out that the notion that there is a massive efficiency gap in batteries over hydrogen cars also can't be substantiated where likely future systems of energy and hydrogen production are considered, because hydrogen production uses otherwise wasted heat to improve total efficiency. Tedious as it is to do so, it is perhaps important to refute the wild claims of prejudice. Personally I do not know what the split between fuel cell and battery cars will be, as it is impossible to fully predict future progress in either. Importantly, neither do those who wish to claim the absolute superiority and coming dominance of battery cars. In the circumstances it is perhaps best to go along with the notions of the likes of the DOE, who see batteries dominating small city cars and fuel cells larger long distance ones, although for the moment plug ins will lead both.
      korblalak
      • 2 Years Ago
      Most Hydrogen comes from the reformation of hydrocarbons. H2 is dirty, dangerous and wasteful.
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      DELUSIONAL NUT OIL INDUSTRY, trying to push us into another Carbon Solution. This time using tracking natural gas to convert to hydrogen. You can't make hydrogen efficiently. You can efficiently run an EV from solar panels. Look around Tillerson, Global Warming is REAL and you're Destroying the planet. You'll be the last CEO of Exxon if GW gets worse.
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dont believe the conspiracy theorists. They are trying to sell books and movies.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      So.... no news, just iterating the same old statements. Funny how ABG writers (and some readers here) quote and believe the CNN article when it alludes that FCVs are coming soon... but ignore (and disbelieve) the statements made in the article that would convey doubt. "It has been a chicken-and-egg issue for at least a couple of decades: vehicle first or gas station first?" "So it's a very complex system and also a high cost." [fueling stations] "which according to analysts cost upward of $1 million each to build" "Currently analysts estimate that it costs about $100,000 to make a fuel-cell car." "Hyundai's target sale price for the next three to five years for the vehicle is $50,000. The price of a petrol-powered ix35 starts at around $20,000." That is a business model doomed from the start. Looks like on ABG's LeSage PICKED positive FCV statements from the host article a LOT more than negative statements. ================================= Although publicly, automakers are bound by their agreement with Oil and Gas companies to promise and promise that they are ready to launch FCVs .... You can already see which excuses will be used when, "market demand is not as high as predicted". "some critics see electric car sales as lackluster since the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf became available two years ago". 1st off, Volt sales have been doing good. Yeah, and when "range anxiety" gets converted into "no station available, anxiety" ... we'll see a repeat of lackluster demand. Only difference is, with BEVs, slow growth in sales is possible even when no infrastructure is built. And PHEVs will simple eat FCVs lunch.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        And if you shut your eyes tight enough you won't see the hydrogen refuelling stations being built.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          I said 'being built' I would list those for Europe and California but you are no doubt as aware of them as I am.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Better yet, go to the DOE's Alternative Fueling Station Locator cause, they don't seem to know what you're talking about either.
          brotherkenny4
          • 3 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Let's hope the oil industry dumps all their money into hydrogen stations. That would make me laugh tremendously.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          How many? What are the addresses?
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          The DOE site also tracks "planned stations" .... but they show none. What are YOU talking about? Some proposals of private-use stations? Yes, in the U.S., not Europe. California is still apart of the U.S., regardless of the hopes of some people.
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      Automakers are tired of moving goalposts. Every few years, the CAFE increases, the emmissions regulations get more strict, gasoline formulations change, the ethanol content increases. Hydrogen fuel cells emit no tailpipe emmissions and hydrogen can be produced from natural gas, coal. nuclear, solar, biomass, etc. Hydrogen fuel cell cars dump the emmissions problem onto the fuel suppliers. Same as electric cars dump the emmissions problem onto powerplants.
        otiswild
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        That FCX Clarity would be a lot better off with a gasoline/methanol-capable SOFC.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Months Ago
          @otiswild
          A 5KW Bloom box is the size of a refrigerator box. You would need at least 6 of them to make the power needed to cruise continually at highway speed. The chemistry of how a bloom box essentially must remove protons from a much larger molecule than H2.... essentially puts a doubt as to whether SOFC could ever be small enough for automobile applications. Good for a small Aux power unit, but not motion.
          Sean
          • 3 Months Ago
          @otiswild
          My understanding is that SOFC are currently too large and heavy per watt for mobile use. For example Bloom Box produces approximately 12 horse power per ton (100kW/11tons). Are there examples of light/compact SOFCs?
          Chris M
          • 3 Months Ago
          @otiswild
          The actual fuel cell in that 5 Kw Bloom Box isn't that large, a lot of that case is filled with control equipment and air compressors and power inverters. One designed for automotive use would be much smaller. There are some technical issues to be solved before we will see SOFC powered cars. The ceramic material used in the Bloom Box is brittle and might not survive the jolts common to cars on potholed streets.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Months Ago
          @otiswild
          I would love to see a Bloom Box with its skin off.
        Dave
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        The hold up with fuel cells is that they require about five times as much platinum as a catalytic converter (down from 100s of times as much not long ago. The hold up with batteries is that they cost $500+ per kwh (including the safety enclosure, cooling system, battery monitoring system, etc)
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Dave
          To clarify... this is NOT a conspiracy theory. But a moderated understanding of low-balling predictions when companies are striving for market entrance. Infrastructure on this scale is often way more expensive than early estimates project.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Dave
          Estimates bought and paid for, by the folks destined to make the most money when those "estimates" fail.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Dave
          So, elaborating on the 'street parkers' who cannot buy a plug in car right now, and for some reason NEED to go Zero Emissions right now. You think they will choose a FCV over a cheaper conventional hybrid? Street parkers, or apartment dwellers may tend to move more often than home-owners would. So they have to think about where they may move to next.... will THAT NEW LOCATION HAVE AN H2 STATION NEARBY? The anxiety of this will prevent many of the potential sales that FCV makers might be counting on, to justify their optimistic demand projections. If I were in the market, and a plugin were not possible... and I wasn't damn sure I would be in the same location (close to that h2 station they promise to build)... I would not risk the purchase. Forget being stranded on a long trip, imagine being stranded (or having to sell the car early) because you moved a bit too far away from your H2 station. Now you've gotta travel 30 minutes or an hour out of your way to refuel each week or so. Fast Charging and public chargers start to look competitive. Also, it is not just folks who park on the street at home... but those folks must also not have any future possibility to charge at work. Although that poses a risk when changing jobs. Bottom line... A PHEV (if not paying too much of a premium), is a perfect choice if you expect to charge, but provides insurance if you lose your opportunity to charge up.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dave
          One of the reasons why large infrastructure based on logistics, becomes more expensive (despite optimistic estimates)... is because of the number and complexity of the logistics system. How many hands are employed to keep things running. For a liquid fuel infrastructure, there are plenty of hands in the cookie jar that will ensure they have job/profit security. This will keep things more expensive than they would be. Charing infrastructure is more appliance based. There are some logistics, but not much. There is the power company and property owner. And the property owners will not be the same, like a fueling infrastruture. This setup makes adoption slower, but cheaper over time, as production of the appliance gets more streamlined. However, I AM INDEED skeptical on claims of how fast the charging infrastructure will become cheaper. But for EVs, there is already MILLIONS of Americans who don't need it. That ALLOWS MARKET ENTRANCE. For HFCVs, this is NOT the case. For Apartment dwellers, or any on street parking. The costs ARE INDEED higher than many optimistic estimates. But they CAN and WILL wait, for the other half to establish the charging infrastructure first. For now, hybrids will have to do. There are already 93 fast chargers available to the public in the U.S. (only 9 public H2 stations) according to the DOE. Batteries are still being testing under real world conditions. Eventually, Fast Charging every 3 days (with a 150 mile pack) will become practical and not harm the pack. This will allow even street parkers to own an EV, and STILL have a cheaper 'refueling' costs compared to both gasoline and H2. You continue to make the two dimensional argument of ONLY BEV vs. FCV.... and continue to make the Now vs. Tomorrow fallacy. FCVs, even in 2016, will have a bigger range problem than todays (2012) BEVs. You cannot compare todays BEVs and charging infrastructure, to an optimistic $50k FCV with an abundant H2 infrastructure.
          brotherkenny4
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dave
          Don't forget that a hydrogen infrastructure does not exist and is likely to be more expensive than any other energy infrastructure that has ever existed. It's just the simple physics of the fuel. But if you ignore that, and focus only on the cars, no problem right. The tax payers will pay for the infrastructure to subsidize the auto industry. Much the way they pay for wars for the oil companies.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Dave
          @Joe: Fine. Presumably then you are applying your strictures of hydrogen infrastructure costs, not to mention your ominous talk of 'bought and paid for cost estimates' equally to electric car infrastructure? You never did supply your estimate of the costs of providing by the road charging for the half of the fleet which has no garage, either. Of course if fuel cells were used as an alternative that, presumably larger than installing them in garages, cost would not be needed, and people could buy battery cars only where they could reasonably and economically be recharged.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dave
          brotherkenny: The cost of infrastructure either for battery cars or fuel cells is estimated at around 5% of the cost of the vehicles, and no substantial impediment to either.
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