Will hydrogen cars or autonomous vehicles hit the mass market first?

  • Image Credit: AOL, Toyota
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.

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