Obama administration rethinking support for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles

This is one political flip-flop scenario that could actually please some constituents.

The Obama Administration might reverse its policy of cutting support for hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle development (FCEV) in favor of battery-electric vehicles by putting more resources towards FCEV advancement, Slate reports.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently spoke at a private event and supported expansion of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, Slate said, citing ex-Shell USA President John Hofmeister. The government's executive branch may be reversing course because of what's so far been lower-than-expected battery-electric vehicle sales in the U.S.

Some consider hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles a best-of-all-worlds solution to cutting both petroleum use and greenhouse-gas emissions because the vehicles can be filled up in minutes and can go almost as far on a full tank as gas-powered vehicles. Still, costs remain an issue because of the limited number of HCEVs and the challenges of hydrogen distribution to refueling stations. General Motors has estimated that it would cost as much as $25 billion to build out the 11,000 hydrogen fueling stations needed to support a "mature" FCEV fleet, Slate reported. Currently, there are only about 50 stations across the U.S., according to the Energy Department.

Last year, Pike Research estimated that automakers will sell about one million FCEVs by 2020, less than Pike Research's prior estimate of 2.8 million vehicles. Toyota, GM, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and Hyundai are among the automakers that have targeted 2015 for mass production of FCEVs.

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