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Despite the arrival of the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell later this spring and other hydrogen offerings from Toyota and Honda in 2015, some automotive industry watchers are saying hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles will finally attain mass-market popularity in 2030. And that's from the industry outlet Hydrogen Fuel News.

Fuel-cell technology promises conventional-vehicle range with zero emissions. The problem is the high costs of producing both the drivetrains and the refueling infrastructure needed to support such technology will keep fuel cells from reaching the mass market anytime soon, or at least for another 16 years or so, many say. Which raises the interesting question of whether H2 vehicles or autonomous-driving cars will get here first.

Self-driving technology, which can improve both vehicle safety and fuel economy, is the subject of a lost of real-world testing. In October, for example, Ford of Europe shared a video of a Ford Escape parallel-parking itself. The following month, Nissan tested a self-driving battery-electric Leaf on the Sagami Expressway in Japan's Kanagawa prefecture. That car could merge, change lanes and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles without driver input. There are still numerous technical and regulatory hurdles to jump before our cars drive us to work, but will they be harder to overcome than the ones facing hydrogen vehicles? The two technologies are not mutually exclusive, of course, but that doesn't mean we can't make a friendly poll out of the issue.

Which will reach mass-market status first?
Hydrogen vehicles, of course 396 (33.5%)
My smartphone says autonomous cars 594 (50.3%)
We won't see either in my lifetime 192 (16.2%)


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      Probably the future will be self driving taxicabs all connected to some giant computer server. Call on such a car and it will show up and take you where you need and then off to the next customer. No parking required. With all the cars connected there wont be traffic jams or accidents. But you wont be allowed to drive your own car on public roads. Self driving will be recreation on designated roads much like horseback riding is today. In your lifetime? It all depends on how long you live :)
      • 1 Year Ago
      Natural gas powered cars will be the next big thing with all the natural gas discovered in America.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        Naw. Heavy-duty applications like trucks can use natural gas. But with cars it doesn't make much sense when you can buy pure EVs and plug-in hybrids. Just burn the natural gas in nice efficient combined-cycle natural gas plants and charge up the plug-ins.
        archos
        • 1 Year Ago
        Hasn't happened yet. No reason to expect anything to change with that.
          floorman56
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          So ford putting out there most popular truck the F150 in NG is not a change? they say that they will sell 15,000 CNG vehicles next year
        Ricardo Gozinya
        • 1 Year Ago
        Only if they manage to come up with a storage method for natural gas that makes it a useful fuel for light duty vehicles.
      yoatmon
      • 1 Year Ago
      "The problem is the high costs of producing both the drivetrains and the refueling infrastructure..... ." Please note that an electric drive train is far cheaper to produce than a complicated and intricate ICE. A FC is not part of the actual electric drivetrain nor is a battery. The present high cost of an electric drivetrain is a result of the rather low production quantities. Once quantities surge to true mass production, prices are bound to fall far below ICE prices.
        scraejtp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @yoatmon
        It may be slightly incorrect verbiage, but you obviously understood the point. The fuel cell is a component of the powertrain, which is prohibitively expensive. By comparison an EV/FC has very few drivetrain components, and very little cost.
      danfred311
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mercedes already have a car for sale that can drive freeways in slow traffic by itself. HFC will never be.
      • 1 Year Ago
      My bet is that flying autonomous cars, capable of interstellar travel will be a viable commercial product on the market before H2 cars. I used to believe that the future for cars was both EV and H2, but the more I've read into both, the faster it pushed me towards EVs - been enjoying my Leaf for 6 months now, for the record.
      electric-car-insider
      The cost of hydrogen is currently $5-8 gge. The cost of electricity is currently $1-1.25 gge Does anyone really believe that hydrogen will be able to compete with electricity on a gge basis?
        Dave
        • 1 Year Ago
        @electric-car-insider
        There are about 35 kwh in a gallon of gasoline. The average cost of electricity is 12 cents. 35 x $.12 = $4.20 Of course, for most people, the cost of a charging station in the parking lot or on the street where they park will be a much larger expense. (not a major issue for those who have an attached garage)
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          It's hard to think of a more useless figure than MPGE or GGE. Cost per distance travelled or emissions (both CO2 and air pollutants) per distance travelled makes much more sense. Then to gauge its worth it should also be considered whether the energy used is of a renewable nature and or able to be sourced domestically. Wouldn't hurt to consider range and refilling infrastructure and extreme climate conditions as well.
          Dave
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          "Did you have an argument in favor of H2 that would dispute the fundamental value proposition of the two fuels compared side by side?" When you include the obscene cost of public charging stations, and the cost of making the grid reliable enough, electricity is a non starter financially.
          electric-car-insider
          @Dave
          Yes, and an EV gets about 4x the mileage that an equivalent ICE does because that energy is converted into wheels turning, rather than heat going out the tailpipe.
          Dave
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          "Yes, and an EV gets about 4x the mileage that an equivalent ICE does because that energy is converted into wheels turning, rather than heat going out the tailpipe." That has absolutely nothing to do with the definition of gge. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_gallon_equivalent
          Neal Levy
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          This is a terrible comparison. The kWh per gallon of gasoline is worthless when the 100 year old technology that burns the gas is so terribly inefficient that it can not use al 35 kWh... Please compare a vehicles range with 1 gallon of gas and an EV charged with 35 kWh. Point made.
          Dave
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          BEVs make excellent cars as long as you don't have to rely on them, and as long as you have an attached garage.
          electric-car-insider
          @Dave
          You seem bent on passing off straight-up disinformation with a straight face today Dave. > the obscene cost of public charging stations. Public charge stations are a few thousand dollars. Fifty thousand for 50kW DC fast chargers. About $250k for state-of-the-art, eight bay Tesla Superchargers. A hydrogen fueling station is at least $2 million, up to $4 million. A gasoline fuel station is typically $1-$2 million. EPRI has published several studies that show the grid will do just fine, thank you, because the vast majority of charging will be done at night, when there is *plenty* of spare capacity. Which just further lowers the cost of the electrical refueling infrastructure, since most people will actually charge at home overnight. Apartment dwellers may not be the early adopters, but large scale experience in Canada shows that plugging in overnight is quite doable - even if you don't park in a garage. Are you willfully ignorant, or just here to spread a little FUD around?
          electric-car-insider
          @Dave
          Yes, from your wiki reference: "One important point that somewhat clouds the practical utility of a GGE for comparing different fuels to each other is that machines which run on them produce usable energy from different fuels at different efficiencies. For example a 2012 Nissan Leaf has a battery capacity of 24 kWh, or a GGE size of 0.72 gallons. A standard small gasoline-powered car with 25 MPG efficiency can go 18 miles on this much fuel. But the higher efficiency Nissan Leaf can go 80–100 miles on this much battery charge" The utility of that gge is the important number, because this is the ultimate cost that the consumer is paying.
          electric-car-insider
          @Dave
          Strictly speaking, gge does not reference price. But the logical extrapolation of gge to $ spent for miles driven yields the cost comparison I provided. Shorthand, yes. Did you have an argument in favor of H2 that would dispute the fundamental value proposition of the two fuels compared side by side?
      Dave
      • 1 Year Ago
      Always keep in mind that it takes ~20 years to replace all (or nearly all) of the cars currently in use, so even if one of these technologies becomes prevalent in sales 10 or 15 or 20 years from now, it won't be dominant in the car population until 30 or 35 or 40 years from now.
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      I for one, welcome our robot overlords driving us to where we can best serve them.
      Wm
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm not certain of the future of hydrogen as a fuel source for cars, but I've just about lost hope in fuel cells for cars. I've been watching fuel cell development for more than 30 years. My hopes hit a peak back in the 90s when Ford, Daimler and Ballard partnered to make a fuel cell vehicle. Since then this idea had jumped from manufacturer to manufacturer. In the mean time, BEV have become viable. Everything in an EV is present in a FCV, but the FCVs also carry the electric power plant with it. Looking at the development for each, I currently have more hope for a 1,000 mi range EV that charges in 1 minute than I do for a FCV being as viable as even today's Leaf.
      goodoldgorr
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hydrogen is not even on the market and we witnessed important cost reduction so as soon as it hit the market tesla shares will go down and hydrogen will be a hit. People HATE to recharge, that's a fact I noticed. 100% of the people can fill a car with hydrogen but only 40% of the people can recharge at home. Battery do not like fast recharge, it stress the batteries. You can fill up any hydrogen tanks in 2 minutes. Tesla cars are just an internet fad, it will be wiped out by regular car manufacturers that each and all said that hydrogen is more realistic. Hydrogen will be made at the point of sale and the profit margin will almost be only made by the hydrogen stations, no more profit for the crude oil producers, the refiners and the multinational oil companies that have huge cost to bring gasoline at the stations. Each and all bloggers and journalists here have not see that single fact. It will be made by water electrolysis by small low cost machineries, 100x less cost than gasoline. Im a car guy till im born. I always like to drive. I owned 30 used cars and 10 used motorcycles and 1 new car and only one new motorcycle. I always hated to put gasoline as it cost a lot and it pollute and it smell bad and it make a lot of noise. Hydrogen made at the point of sale will resolve the economy entirely , no more pollution, no more high cost, no more import or export. ExxonMobil shareholders are the future beggars that you will see downtown. Elon musk will be the sole one driving a model s and all model s tesla cars will be given to young folks of sizteen years old or peoples out of work. Old gasoline and diesel cars and trucks with ice engines will be converted to hydrogen in bi-fuel operation. I can't wait to personnaly get my revenge over costly and polluting gasoline. Im glad I never bought with my money any battery gadjets except my cell phone. People here paid a lot for gasoline and batteries and the naysayers of hydrogen are just big depressed guys with faint hopes in better future and they get caught by a worst thing than gasoline, the batteries..
        Neal Levy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Please tell me where 100% of the people are going to fill with hydrogen. Last I checked hydrogen had about 2% national coverage... Good luck with that infrastructure. If people were upset with low interest government loans to help grow the dying auto industry what until you see what it takes to create a new filling station network. Not to mention that I don't feel driving a hydrogen vehicle is nearly as safe as a ice or EV. I am voting for autonomous vehicles first because I think hydrogen is a pipe dream.
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've noticed that the last few articles about Autonomous Vehicles , drew little response. So once again, Danny King, for no apparent reason, added the much more controversial subject of Hydrogen fuelled cars, to spice up an otherwise dull story. It appears to have worked ! In the meantime ABG has missed a covering the far more important news story of India's intention to build an Indian designed, commercial Thorium fuelled nuclear power plant. Since India, like the PRC is a nation with a heavy dependence on Coal ( often brown coal) for power generation. This new power source is of enormous environmental benefit to the entire planet. This design of Thorium reactor is perhaps not as beneficial as LFTR, and other designs, but it fits in with India's existing nuclear industry and is certainly a huge improvement. ( Before anyone starts ranting about nuclear waste, bombs, disasters, please do a little research on Thorium reactors, and their potential ). http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/advanced-heavy-water-reactor-ahwr-thorium-reactor-bhabha-atomic-research-centre-mumbai-india/1/345888.html
        archos
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marco Polo
        First you whine about hydrogen cars getting mention, then you go off topic. Why don't you just stop coming here?
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          @ Electron Your posts are always negative, nearly always abusive and filled with hatred about something. If you want to to join a discussion, not just hang around the edges of debates looking for an opportunity to add a bit of poison, get out and do something positive. ABG is a very open forum, it encourages a wide variety of viewpoints. If you want to to join a fan club, where everyone agrees with one another, that's ok, just find one and make your contributions where they're appreciated. But do something positive, instead of obsessing about hating others that are actually involved in making a positive contribution to the environment .
          electronx16
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          @ Marcopolo, Marco Polo, marco polo etc, etc: I guess using at least half a dozen handles yourself you know a thing or two about manipulating the discussion/rating system using multiple accounts. That's just you though, not me. And yes, your obsessive behaviour on this forum definitely suggests you could benefit from some professional help. Until than take Archos suggestion to heart , it's rather disgusting really how your lying and manipulative behaviour has turned this forum into a snake pit.
          Electron
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          @Archos, agreed. Off topic blathering about thorium reactors is basically abusing the comment section and the author of this article while he's at it, missing the fact that it's actually the hydrogen industry outlet's source article that makes the connection between autonomous cars and hydrogen. Wonder what this distraction is all about. Maybe to divert attention from fact that even industry outlets acknowledge that “the experts agree that the hydrogen-fueled vehicle will not become a major player in the automotive world before the year 2030–at the very earliest”? That's not a message the car and oil industry whose song he tends to sing on this forum like advertised for sure.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          @ archos/electron/ electron 1-16, How's the group therapy for multiple personality disorder progressing ?
        Marco Polo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marco Polo
        @ DarylMc Emerging nations like India and the PRC are rapidly creating a consumer middle class equal to the current world middle class population. Such industrial progress requires energy on a truly unparalleled scale. As the developing world increasingly industrialises, the pressure on energy resources with rise dramatically. The small, and largely superficial, savings in the older Western industrial nations, (most of which have been creating by exporting pollutant industries) , will be nowhere near sufficient to offset the demand for fossil fuel. Storage of thorium waste is not the serous problem that beset previous nuclear technology. The world is going to need a reliable supply of clean energy on an industrial scale. Solar, wind etc, is simply not capable of providing anything like that demand. 300 year storage may sound unattractive but, the alternative which is huge rise in coal usage, is far less acceptable.
        DarylMc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Hi Marcopolo Personally I am not thrilled about the 300 year storage of the Thorium reactor waste. I believe this also applies to the LFTR. There is no government or business I would trust to take care of anything over that time frame. But it certainly sounds better than the 25000 years for the current ones. Even then the Thorium reactors need to be more than simply planned to make a difference. Around 2025 from the India today link. In the interim I think renewable sources of electricity, CO2 reductions and efficiency gains should be pursued. Strangely the governments of which I have no faith are doing these things right now, right around the world. At least to some extent. Perhaps the glass really is half full. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-based_nuclear_power#cite_note-energyfromthorium.com The radioactivity of the resulting waste also drops down to safe levels after just a few hundred years, compared to tens of thousands of years needed for current nuclear waste to cool off.
      porosavuporo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hydrogen is simple inefficient well to wheels, and does not buy you energy independence at small scale
        Dave
        • 1 Year Ago
        @porosavuporo
        http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs/10001_well_to_wheels_gge_petroleum_use.pdf
          Dave
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          I love how I get downvoted for posting facts that people don't like.
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