Imagine going to the ballet on Saturday evening for an 8 pm performance. The orchestra begins warming up shortly before the show, but it turns out the star performer isn't ready at the appointed time. The orchestra keeps playing, doing its best to keep the audience engaged and, most importantly, in the building. It keeps this up until the star finally shows and is ready to dance ... which turns out to be ten years later.

That's a Samuel Beckett play. It's also how many observers, analysts, alt-fuel fans and alt-fuel intenders feel about the arrival of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) – the few of them who are still in the building, that is.

Toyota's hydrogen development timeline rivals that of the US space program.

In fact, within the halls of Toyota alone, research on FCVs has been going on for nearly 22 years, meaning that one company's development timeline for FCVs rivals that of the US space program – it was 1945 when Werner von Braun's team began re-assembling Germany's World War II V2 rockets and figuring out how to launch them into space and it wasn't until 1969 when a man set landing gear down on that sunlit lunar quarry. The development of the atom bomb only took half as long, and that's if we go all the way back to when Leó Szilárd patented the mere idea of it, in 1934.

Carmakers didn't give up on hydrogen in spite of the public having given up on carmakers ever making something of it, so there was a good chance that hydrogen criers announcing the mass-market adoption of periodic chart element number two one would eventually be right. Now is that time. And Toyota, not alone in researching FCVs but arguably having done the most to keep FCVs in the news, isn't even going to be first to market. That honor will go to Hyundai, surprising just about everyone at the LA Auto Show with news of a hydrogen fuel cell Tucson going on sale in the spring. The other bit of thunder stolen: while Toyota's talking about trying to get the price of its offering down to something between $50,000 and $100,000, Hyundai is pitching its date with the future at a lease price of $499 per month ($250 more than the lease price of a conventional Tucson), free hydrogen and maintenance, and availability at Enterprise Rent-A-Car if you just want to try it out.

We've seen and driven Toyota's offering and we all know its success doesn't depend on cross-shopping, showroom dealing and lease sweeteners. So let's take a look at a few of the big issues challenging the hydrogen economy, starting with this: it's been said about the Toyota FCV that it "Offers the same convenience as conventional gasoline vehicles." Which is true. Until you need to fill it up.

The tip of the mountainous issue in two sentences: the Department of Energy says there are ten publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations in the United States. Nine of them are in California.

Compare the number nine to the number 7,454, which is the tally of publicly accessible electric-car charging stations in the US and obviously doesn't include the number of electrified homes that possess extension cords, and the number 121,446, which is estimated count of our nation's gas stations.



Let's look at the number nine. The site H2stations.org shows seven public stations in Southern California in operation, from Burbank in the north to Newport Beach in the south, 54 miles from Burbank. There's an eighth station at Los Angeles International Airport, but only if you drive a General Motors vehicle. The Honda and Toyota stations, both about 15 miles south of LAX in Torrance, are listed as closed to the public and so not counted here, but we image that isn't be the case if you drive one of their respective fuel cell offerings. Get away from the coasts and you find one center east of downtown at California State University LA, otherwise you're all the way east to Diamond Bar, 43 miles inland, and you'd find another two from there out to Riverside, 70 miles inland.

How far away from the refueling stations are early adopters willing to be?

The point is that even when we talk about Southern California being the primary market for these vehicles because that's where the only real infrastructure is, in truth we're talking about a narrow strip of coastal land and a couple of inland redoubts. And here, where it can take 30 minutes to go five miles, even if we only look at urban dwellers, how far away from that refueling oasis are early adopters willing to be?

One of the touted benefits of FCVs is the driving range – Toyota promises a range of 310 miles and this is one of the prime reasons the company believes hydrogen can beat battery electric cars. But how usable is that range? You couldn't make it from LA to Phoenix, where there's another public station, even if you refilled in Riverside. You couldn't make it from Burbank to any of the stations in the San Francisco area. You could make it to Santa Barbara, 90 miles north of LA, but you'd have to be a stingy driver if your aim was to tour the wine country, since you need 180 miles out of those high-pressure tanks to get you back to a fill-up in Burbank. And if something goes wrong, AAA probably can't help you. These might be some of the reasons Honda has only leased something like 40 examples of its FCX Clarity since 2008.

honda fcx clarity

We don't need to waste any time finding a solution, though, because there's only one and that's a cinch: build more stations. How to make that solution happen, that's where the exorbitant taxes of time, argument, money and angst are being spent.

For the moment, it looks like California is set to match the long-term determination of carmakers like Toyota and Honda. A representative from the California Fuel Cell Partnership said there should be 28 stations ready by the time Toyota's car goes on sale in 2015, and the organization has a road map of 68 stations that "are open, in planning or have funding committed," noting that $65 million in additional money will be devoted to keeping them running until they are profitable. Even with the 68 stations, the only way to make it from LA to San Francisco in an FCV is via the I-5 freeway, because there's a refueling stop planned for the suburbs of a lonely hamlet called Coalinga.

California projects each hydrogen station will cost $2.5 million.

That same year, 2015, could also see the initial expenditure of funds set aside by the passage of Assembly Bill 118 that allocated funding for Assembly Bill 8. AB8 sets aside $20 million per year for ten years for hydrogen infrastructure and supporting projects. Some outlets have said that $100 million of the funds will go to building a "hydrogen superhighway" of 100 stations at a million bucks a pop – with at least a six-minute drive between each station – but the proposal put out to companies that would build the stations projects each unit cost to be $2.5 million. No matter what the price is now, a decade of work should see a steep drop, with the past decade said to have turned in a 25-percent decrease in price each year in infrastructure costs.

While California waits for another state to join it on the one-electron superhighway, it does find hydrogen road-trip comrades in both Europe and Asia. Japan plans to have 100 stations up and running in 2015, with "full scale commercial development and a nationwide hydrogen network by 2030." South Korea has laid out government initiatives to help build out a network. France's Air Liquide and Germany's Linde AG are working together to increase Germany's station count from the current 15 "to 100 by 2017 and 400 by 2023." An Air Liquide exec said that "about 1,000 stations" are what would be needed to provide full coverage in countries like France (about the size of Texas, population of 66 million) or Germany (about the size of New Mexico, population 81 million). That same exec put the cost of a Europe-wide fuel cell infrastructure at 10 billion euros, or $13.7 billion.



Everyone knows that the infrastructure issue isn't just about a lack of physical refueling stations, though. You have to get the hydrogen from some stock source, and the source and method of reformation opens up other environmental issues. Then you have to get the hydrogen to the refueling point by either laying or retrofitting the specialized pipe required. Or you can pipe in natural gas and reform on site, which entails other issues. As for that site, before you can build it you have to get zoning approval, and stations themselves have their own particular requirements.

So why why why hydrogen?

So why why why hydrogen? Why all this money and effort to develop an exotic powertrain that faces terrific hurdles of money, lack of infrastructure and consumer will just when the internal combustion engine is finally learning some manners and the rise of hybrids, range-extended hybrids and pure EVs has taken yet more gas out of the hydrogen push?

Let's be honest about the first reason: regulations. It is impossible to have a conversation about FCVs, pure EVs and range –extended EVs without terms like "regulations," "federal mandates" and "CARB" coming up. That's given rise to another term, "compliance car," the affirmative action of automobiles, an ill-regarded member of the dealership workplace brought on solely for its ability to masquerade as social concern and placate the bureaucracy of quotas.



Yet regulations have only opened the door – California's objective is that greenhouse gas emissions in the state in 2050 will be only 20 percent of what they were in 1990, and the state with more than 33 million registered vehicles wants 1.5 million zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2025 to help that out. According to a report in Newsday, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont aim to add another 1.8 million zero-emissions vehicles to their registries by that date, for 3.3 million in total.

The regulations don't stipulate how carmakers achieve zero emissions, though, so they could use thorium reactors or goat's milk if they thought those options made sense. It is hydrogen, the subject of automaker research since the 1960s, that they believe has the greatest upside.

As was stated in Part 1, Toyota's says its rationale is ultimately about the business case; the company wouldn't be blasting cannons of money at the technology if it didn't believe it would pay off somehow – nor would Honda, Hyundai, General Motors and Mercedes. Not even Toyota thinks hydrogen power is going to take over the world; rather, it sees it as a viable option, long-term, in the zero-emissions mix.



Toyota is open in its belief that electric cars aren't the best solution – e.g., news reports like "[Toyota Motor Corporation Director and Senior Managing Officer Koei ] Saga is not a big proponent of electric vehicles.... [Toyota] would not have developed the RAV4 EV if it weren't forced to comply with California Air Resources Board regulations," and, "We don't see a market right now for EV and don't see one for two generations, 8-10 years, a car generation. We're waiting for battery technology and volume profitability," and another exec who said, "No one would make an EV if not for mandates."

Toyota doesn't think pure EVs are the most complete solution, either (and Hyundai has its own version of the graph above): range, weight, poor cold-weather performance, long charging times and battery degradation among the prime issues. The $29,000 Nissan Leaf has almost been outsold by the $60,000 Porsche Cayenne this year, thoroughly outsold by the $63,000 Mercedes GL and trounced by the $50,000 BMW 5 Series. Speaking of the BMW, that 5 Series buyer looking for electric luxury could go for a BMW i3 or Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, spending the same money to sacrifice range, space, capability, convenience and cold-weather performance. The tiny, localized sales of pure EVs support Toyota's thinking for now, as do the public walkbacks of electric car champions like Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and the Obama administration.

Every OEM we've spoken to has said they couldn't build a car the way Tesla does.

We can talk about Tesla, but that's not a fair fight. While it is correct to be just as impressed as astonished at what Tesla's done – and we're fans – that company hasn't passed the OEM test yet; it is selling boutique wares for moneyed early adopters who are ready to excuse issues it might have as they hop in their second or third car. As well, every OEM we've spoken to that's seen what's inside a Model S has said they couldn't build a car the way Tesla does nor use the same kinds of parts in some cases; they simply wouldn't stand up to the demands put on a major manufacturer and to mass-market ownership.

Toyota's position doesn't mean it feels electric cars have no place at all, as its i-Road and car-sharing efforts attest, but it's not the place that many were hoping for – not for the moment. If – or rather, IF – FCVs can gain any momentum once on sale from multiple manufacturers and convince governments and industries to keep spending the time and money to make more room for the technology, there's a chance it can enter the mix. Let's be fair about some of these sums of money, too: compare the $20 million per year that California is setting aside for hydrogen infrastructure to the $3.2 billion set aside in a single year, the 2013-2014 state budget, for the development of a high-speed rail system. Via the FreedomCar initiative, the US government spent $1.7 billion from 2004 to 2008 on fuel cells ($1.2 million was originally allotted) gunning for then-President George W. Bush's aim of getting hydrogen FCVs on sale by 2015. In his 2003 State of the Union address he said, "The first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen and pollution free." Turns out he was right. As for the money, that's $340 million per year for five years, less than the $500 million requested to support Amtrak's infrastructure upgrades in the Fiscal Year 2008 budget alone, out of a total budget of $2.9 trillion - and most of that Amtrak money was intended for the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and Boston.

Toyota only wants to produce 5,000 to 10,000 FCVs per year from 2015.

It must also be remembered that this is a long-term play for a foothold, with business horizons out to 2030 and beyond. If automakers can really keep it up for sixteen years - and Toyota's already kept it up for 21 - that gives them a decent window to overcome hydrogen's many challenges like lowering the prices of the cars. It might sound crazy, but who, just before the close of 1997, would have predicted or believed the global automotive landscape we have today? There will probably be about 15.5 million cars sold in the US this year, with roughly 90,000 of them expected to be EVs and PHEVs – that's 0.6 percent of the total market. Of those, roughly 20,000 will be accounted for by the Model S, another 12,000 or so will be the Prius PHEV. It has taken us more than a decade to get to this point, by which we mean the arrival of the first Prius hybrid opened the door to a further hybridized and electrified automotive world; it took six years for the original Prius to catch on, and Toyota lost money on them for years. Toyota only wants to produce 5,000 to 10,000 FCVs per year from 2015, and that's its goal for global sales.

Ignoring the infrastructure issue for a moment, FCVs address the drawbacks of electric cars, answer federal mandates that are only going to get more stringent, are expected to be priced competitively in the long-term, are 60- to 70-percent efficient and are said to have a theoretical efficiency of 83 percent – compared to 35- to 40-percent efficiency for the best internal combustion engines on sale today. On top of that, Toyota's position is that it's merely replacing components already used in its EV and PHEVs with the fuel cell stack, and it's been engaged in the production engineering of all three powertrains for ten years.



And Toyota isn't alone. In 2009, on hydrogen's third go-round of only being eight years away, former Obama administration Energy Secretary Steven Chu cut $100 million from funding for FCVs but carmakers complained and Congress put the money back. This year, Daimler, Ford and Renault-Nissan have joined forces to work on fuel cells and plan to reveal something as soon as 2017, BMW and Toyota have a technical partnership and so do General Motors and Honda. A member of the Daimler board went so far as to say, "We are convinced that fuel cell vehicles will play a central role for zero-emission mobility in the future." Mercedes did offer its F-Cell FCV for lease in Southern California for $849 a month; still, that's quite a statement after German car companies fought hybrids for years – and Audi is still fighting – saying, in effect, 'why do we need all that complexity when we already have diesels?'

Hydrogen currently has zero position in the marketplace and faces obscene hurdles. But if its chances of success were no better than hallucinogenic hypothesizing, we'd think that at least one of the thousands of engineers working in one of those eight global OEMs would have come up with a salable option by now.



As far as Toyota's concerned, it is also important to include the company's vision for fuel cells in an energy matrix beyond cars. Says one of its brochures, "An important element in achieving the wide-spread distribution of FCVs is using hydrogen not only for automobiles, but for social systems as well."

In Japan, and as exemplified in Ecoful Town and its hydrogen refueling operation, Toyota's work with the HyGrid Study Group is looking at how hydrogen can work as one of the energy sources within a grid already utilizing petroleum, natural gas, coal, plants, uranium, hydro, solar, and geothermal electricity generation. Along with the FCV due in 2015, it's running pilot programs with fuel-cell powered forklifts, a third-generation fuel cell bus is due in 2016, it's touting hydrogen as a residential energy source and working with corporate partners on residential co-generation systems for household use, studying how hydrogen could be made from surplus renewable energy, how vehicle-to-grid systems might work and how hydrogen can be used for energy storage on massive scales.



And again, Toyota isn't alone: California has been studying the wide-scale use of hydrogen storage for the state's energy needs for more than ten years, the UK government recently awarded 598,000 pounds (just under a million dollars) into research for a vehicular hydrogen storage system to improve the range of electric cars, Florida is studying hydrogen produced from citrus waste, and the city of Hamburg, Germany awarded a contract to develop a 1 MW hydrogen storage system. Oh, and just in case there's money to be made for you speculators, Forbes has provided a list of 12 hydrogen and fuel cell stocks to watch.

Nevertheless, when (recently departed) Hyundai NA CEO John Krafcik says, "These things are now ready for prime time," that's probably overstating things. More likely is the assessment of analyst Alan Baum, who said, "I see fuel cells as a technology for the decade of the 2020s, with a small but growing ramp-up in the first half of the decade, not unlike what we are seeing now with EVs."



Hydrogen might very well fail in the marketplace for any number of reasons – like a "Big Battery Breakthrough" such as this one recently announced by Sekisui Chemical. Or it might only fail on its first real retail attempt and then come back in some other form later, like the EV1. Or it could end up being a serious, albeit tiny, alt-fuel option in the marketplace for an unknown number of years. No one knows. But if it does fail, it won't be because automakers didn't give it a shot. In spite of the money spent and cars on the way, we don't have to believe that Toyota or any of the other automakers actually believe in hydrogen, but – for the same reason that the Germans finally got into hybrids – they have determined that the tide looks serious enough and promising enough to run with, and they are definitely running. So get ready: the first wave hits later this year.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 145 Comments
      Spec
      • 10 Months Ago
      "As well, every OEM we've spoken to that's seen what's inside a Model S has said they couldn't build a car the way Tesla does nor use the same kinds of parts in some cases; they simply wouldn't stand up to the demands put on a major manufacturer and to mass-market ownership." Can someone explain this to me? I would think that they all COULD build a car like a Model S, they just chose not to do so because they didn't think there was a market for it. I fail to understand what aspect of the Model S could they no manufacture.
        Chris M
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Spec
        What keeps them from copying Tesla is the patents Tesla holds, and the fact that Tesla already dominates that market. However, all major auto makers have (or soon will have) at least one plug-in car on the market, EV or PHEV or both.
        axiomatik
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Spec
        I replied to another comment on this topic, and I'll rehash it here. The Model S is pretty big luxury sedan, and it is built on an all-aluminum chassis. Take a look at other big luxury sedans, built on cheaper steel chassis, with conventional drivetrains, and they have similar prices. The Model S has the additional expense of that aluminum chassis, plus tens of thousands of dollars worth of batteries and high-power control electronics (obviously, it doesn't have the expense of an engine/transmission, but the cost of the batteries themselves outweigh those savings). Add up the cost of the bill of materials, and it seems hard to believe that Tesla could be building and selling the Model S at a gross profit. Also, the way some aspects of the car are designed don't lend themselves well to a assembly-line manufacturing process like most cars are built.
        Joeviocoe
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Spec
        Tesla really built the Model S from Scratch. OEM's don't do that anymore... and it is perceived as a risk too big.
        PeterScott
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Spec
        For the most part, Teslas design isn't suitable for platform sharing with ICE powered vehicles and it is more like traditional builders, aren't willing to make the huge commitment of building an EV only platform. I think this will help keep Tesla at the forefront of EVs when all their competition keep building off ICE platforms.
      Scooter
      • 10 Months Ago
      I get that the tech is expensive. Got that part. Why MUST the car look like that. Seriously? Toyota's Lexus division can make an R/C-F, and this is what Toyota brings to the table as the "game changer"? $50,000-$100,000 worth of tech stuffed into what looks worse than a Corolla? ...So its like, "Lets make a "game changing hydrogen car, but lets put the shell of $15,000 car over it, and slap a $50,000-$100,000 price tag on it." This hydrogen car can never, in this universe, pay for itself nor will its offerings and appearance ever justify the price-tag. Yuck!
        paulwesterberg
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Scooter
        Toyota is trying to emulate the Prius launch complete with a dorky, overpriced, impractical 1st generation model.
          markrogo
          • 10 Months Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          The first Prius was practical: Go to gas station, buy gas. This vehicle is not. Toyota's bizarre attempts to draw an analogy between the two do not change this fundamental fact.
          offib
          • 10 Months Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          The first Prius is definitely what they call "Japanese Tastes". The second I would say is streamlined, fresh, dorky, but still catches one's eye. The blue concept here is just a concept. It's not a Renault, Citroen, Cadillac or BMW, so they won't produce that. That they will do is either shove it in the new Prius, a Lexus platform or any large Toyota sedan to suffice. But to say that they think that this will be the new Prius? That's disgraceful! Toyota is pretty much going against most who loved the Prius, those who wanted alternatives they and others can afford like EVs today. This won't exactly follow in the footsteps of the Prius, it won't exactly follow or exceed the progression for Plug-Ins. This won't be spectacular. I suspect that like the Clarity, RAV4 EV and Fit EV, after a few months or a year these new lease only, compliance FCEVs will be forgotten of. They'll do what they'll do, nothing groundbreaking.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 10 Months Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          Did Japanese people really like the first gen? Damn, i thought even they had some better taste than that.
          axiomatik
          • 10 Months Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          The 1st-gen Prius wasn't really ugly, just exceptionally plain.
      Lou Grinzo
      • 10 Months Ago
      The biggest threat to FCVs is not current EVs, but what EVs are likely to turn into in just a few years. I'm sure most people here have seen the articles about how EV batteries have plunged in price in recent years -- I saw one very recently that said they dropped 50% in 4 years -- and it won't take much more of a decline before EVs are showing up in driveways in mass numbers. That's the target that FCVs are trying to hit, not the 2014 Tesla and Leaf. Good luck with that, FCV dudes.
        j
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Lou Grinzo
        "The biggest threat to FCVs is not current EVs, but what EVs are likely to turn into in just a few years." Lou Grinzo, seems IMO that current EV's as a clean energy alternative, are even now, a very difficult FCEV target. The Leaf is selling for $28,000 and Volt for $34,000, if I remember correctly. The cost of using electricity is equivalent to about $1.50 at the high end of the averages. Hydrogen is running at about $5.50 a gallon equivalent. And the First FCEV's are expected to cost between $50,000 and $100,000. Fuel costs are increasing and electricity contracts from new windmills have dropped to $.05 a kWh. Hydrogen in contrast is not clean nor inexpensive, resulting from reformed NG. Short term, it's a difficult competition for FCEV's. As far as the EV iterations that will be selling when FCEV's are available in volume. "Good luck with that, FCV dudes."
        kontroll
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Lou Grinzo
        just imagine the battery technology in 5-10 years: lighter in weight, faster to charge, double the range and cheaper. Good luck FCV and Toyota with that competition.
        archos
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Lou Grinzo
        I don't think FCVs are trying to hit that target, because with longer range EVs there's no longer any reason for FCVs to exist. Look at Toyota's chart. They're still pretending EVs are golf carts. There's no way their business case for FCVs considers cheaper batteries or future long-range affordable EVs like the Model S. It seems like it was really now or never for them. Bring out the FCVs now before they're made obsolete by longer range EVs. Profitability or infrastructure be damned.
        Joeviocoe
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Lou Grinzo
        FCVs also need to compete with the national charging infrastructure of the near future. Tesla is showing how it can be done, so even if they don't licence to other automakers the access to the Supercharger network, Fast chargers can be built MUCH faster and cheaper than H2 fueling infrastructure. In little over a year, Tesla managed to enable both coasts and one coast-to-coast route. For about $150k per SC station (4-6 stalls) vs. $2mil for H2. Hydrogen is behind in a race they cannot win. They are starting late, and will have a slower pace. We will see Hydrogen vehicles resolve to niche sub-markets (like CNG did).
      • 10 Months Ago
      Very nice and well thought-through feature article about one of the most dividing topic in the ‘green scene’. I really enjoyed reading it. I concisely summarize the article’s main points here: Pros: - FCVs offer the same convenience as conventional gasoline vehicles - Driving range is comparable to gasoline cars - Refueling time is comparable to gasoline cars - Funds will go to building a "hydrogen superhighway" with a six-minute drive between each station, also in Europe and Asia with "full scale commercial development and a nationwide hydrogen networks” - California is studying the wide-scale use of hydrogen storage for the state's energy needs… UK government awarded £598,000 (ca. $1 million) into research for vehicular hydrogen storage systems… city of Hamburg, Germany developing a 1 MW hydrogen storage system… Toyota's vision for fuel cells in an energy matrix beyond cars: “wide-spread distribution of FCVs using hydrogen not only for automobiles, but for social systems as well", H2 could be made from surplus renewable energy and can be used for energy storage on massive scales, vehicle-to-grid systems etc. Cons: - Research on FCVs has been going on for nearly 22 years - Carmakers didn't give up on hydrogen in spite of the public having given up on it - There are currently nine H2 stations [in Cal.] while 7,454 EV charging stations in the US” - Refueling stations are far away from each other at the moment - H2 stations are expensive to build - Concerns about hydrogen source / station zoning approvals / requirements / regulations etc. Since addressing all these points is not possible in max. 3000 characters, I’d only attempt to reflect on the article’s main question: “So why why why hydrogen?” In our past, we went from hand production methods to machines, utilized the power of water / wind, figured out the steam machine, switched from wood and other ‘bio-fuels’ to coal, which influenced almost every aspect of our daily life (at that time usually for the better). Jumping to today, we now have a full blown hydrocarbon economy, which is turned out to be not sustainable and significantly harmful to the environment, causing instability / insecurity in our world, and we also cannot just pick any random element from the periodic table and use it as fuel (at least not yet and no one knows if ever). So what can we do then? Put it simple: to replace our fossil hydrocarbon economy (of transport), using our current best knowledge, we have not more than two options: - Battery (electricity from whatever source) - Fuel cell (hydrogen, among countless other possible fuels, H2 is the imaginable cleanest) Simple as that. Pushing exclusively one of them to all automakers / consumers would create a rather pointless lack of choice (there’s no even remotely meaningful explanation for that) and ‘putting every eggs in one basket’ would be a way bigger green gamble, than letting the all-powerful market decide their respective place in our future.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 10 Months Ago
        Yes. Future automakers will offer both FCVs and BEVs, and the consumer will choose the vehicle that suits their wants and needs. The two technologies are not an end in themselves, but rather part of a combination that solves the problem of getting off petroleum fuels while reducing greenhouse gases.
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Wise words LTAW
        JSH
        • 10 Months Ago
        The problem with hydrogen is that it is not a fuel it is a way to store energy. Hydrogen is not found by itself in nature it is always bonded with other atoms to make compounds. Right now there are two ways to get hydrogen usable in a fuel cell: The first is by electrolysis which uses massive amounts of electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This is a very inefficient process and requires more energy than simply using the electricity to charge a battery. The second is by stripping hydrogen from natural gas using a chemical reaction. Again, this requires energy and it is more efficient to simply use the natural gas to power the vehicle. Fuel cell technology has its place but cars are not it. One of the best current applications are natural gas powered fuel cells that provide both heat and electricity for buildings.
          • 10 Months Ago
          @JSH
          Akright JSH - "The problem with hydrogen is that it is not a fuel it is a way to store energy." We have a surprising another problem as well i.e.: The problem with electricity is that it is not a fuel it is a way to store energy. - "Hydrogen is not found by itself in nature..." Neither electricity, nor refined gasoline... - "The first [way of H2 production] is by electrolysis which uses massive amounts of electricity..." Producing gasoline from crude oil (i.e. drilling, pumping, transporting, refining etc.) also uses massive amounts of electricity + massive amounts of fossil fuels as well. - " Right now there are two ways to get hydrogen usable in a fuel cell:.." No, there are 'way more ways', just google the term "hydrogen production" or "renewable hydrogen production" and you'll see it.
        Avinash Machado
        • 10 Months Ago
        Great cliff notes.
      yonomo200
      • 10 Months Ago
      That Honda concept was the most hideous thing at NAIAS. Virtually vomit worthy.
      knightrider_6
      • 10 Months Ago
      " periodic chart element number two " Autoblog's chemistry fail
      Mike Pulsifer
      • 10 Months Ago
      "periodic chart element number two" Hydrogen is 1 Helium is 2
      Bernard
      • 10 Months Ago
      All this effort spent on hydrogen should be stopped and redirected at battery tech. We need better batteries, not rolling tanks of explosive gas. Hydrogen infrastructure is an expense we don't need when we already have powerlines. This tech is a dead end.
      Davey Hiltz
      • 1 Month Ago
      This might be wrong of me, but all I wonder when I think of fuel cells is "what would happen if they got in a crash?". Hydrogen is quite explosive and a pretty unstable element. I'm sure they're going through safety precautions and most likely it's about as bad as normal gasoline I bet. Regardless, I think it's great all the different technologies they're developing. http://fuelingpower.com/products/cng-home-fueling-station/
      hahiran
      • 10 Months Ago
      More hydrogen nonsense. Every article about fuel cells reads like the last article about fuel cells, or the article from ten years ago, or the article from twenty years ago: "Hydrogen is almost here!" But then it's not, and then companies trot out another hydrogen car they are leasing for a bunch of money, but that's only available near the handful of stations in SoCal. There is no profitable fuel cell car in sight, not even close, because platinum is and always will be outrageously expensive, yet we have government talking about the installation of incredibly expensive hydrogen stations for cars that are barely available and absolutely unaffordable. Musk is installing supercharging stations around the world right now at a clip of around 4/week, which means in the month of February he will have installed more places to refuel a car than all the hydrogen stations in the US. They are quick, easy, and cheap. Have a powerline nearby? Boom, supercharging station. I think Hyundai talked about installing stations at their dealers, but who wants to head to Car Dealer Row to refuel their car? What dealer wants a big honking hydrogen station taking up valuable retail space, especially when that space makes absolutely no money? None of it makes sense, unless you are BP and upset that folks are charging their car in their garage and not at your gas station. I don't miss gas stations AT ALL, and changing the kind of fuel to hydrogen doesn't change that.
        Ricky St. Vincent
        • 10 Months Ago
        @hahiran
        I read this article last night and was going to respond with the exact same points of Teslas Super Charger network. Why would anyone build a Hydrogen Refueling Station if TODAY it costs $2.5 million to build . Not including the cost of Hydrogen for its customers... When Tesla can build a solar powered Super Charger which is free to use and only costs Tesla about $250,000 with free refueling at a rate of 150 miles of range in 20 minutes. The Super charger recharge rates will decrease as battery chemistry improves and I defiantly think thats the better bet for consumer vehicles.
      Zach
      • 10 Months Ago
      I though Hydrogen was number 1 on the periodic table (Helium is number too, and it makes a terrible fuel by being all stable and stuff).
        Jim1961
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Zach
        It's fusion powered!
        markrogo
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Zach
        You, Google, Wikipedia, and every chemistry textbook and decently informed high-school graduate on earth are in violent agreement.
      Burn
      • 10 Months Ago
      "it was 1945 when Werner von Braun's team began re-assembling Germany's World War II V2 rockets and figuring out how to launch them into space" Typical Euro-babble.. Created by little Euroboys trying to share in Amerca's incredible accomplishment.. The truth is Robert Hutchings Goddard invented the liquid fueled Rocket NOT the Nazis.. The Nazis just poured money and oersonel into Goddard's research to rule the world..
        Andy Smith
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Burn
        Standing on the shoulders of giants, the post is correct. No one said they invented rockets
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