GM and Toyota: Don't expect fuel cells any time soon

The great hydrogen debate of '08 continues to heat up, with Bob Lutz from GM and Katsuaki Watanabe from Toyota echoing each other's statements regarding fuel cell vehicles for the mainstream market. The general consensus seems to be that fuel cells are still way too expensive for use in automobiles and that, since hydrogen is still not available in most areas as well as being difficult and expensive to capture and contain, what would be the point, really? Additionally, General Motors has made great strides in their lithium ion battery development, leading Lutz to comment, "If we get lithium-ion to 300 miles, then you need to ask yourself, Why do you need fuel cells?" That sounds like a reasonable question. Moreover, Toyota seems to be looking past even lithium ion batteries and into other new battery chemistries.

These new statements from GM and Toyota are in stark contrast to Daimler AG Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche's comment at Geneva that with mass-production, fuel cell drivetrains could get "into the cost range of conventional powertrains." At this point in time, it seems that an agreement is difficult to reach when it comes to the future of hydrogen. For sure, powering electric cars with power extracted from hydrogen is possible, the question is whether the technology will come down in price enough to make using it feasible for our automobiles and whether it is a better solution than just storing electricity in high-tech batteries.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal]

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