Automakers entrenched in fuel cell hydrogen are succumbing to physics and going electric

fuel cell toyota

I think we are witnessing the start of a new (but long overdue) trend this year. The few established automakers still pushing fuel cell hydrogen vehicles appear to be warming up to battery-powered electric vehicles instead. Honda, Toyota and Hyundai, arguably the automakers most stuck on hydrogen, all announced new electric vehicle programs in the past few weeks.

Toyota is working on a plug-in version of the Corolla. Hyundai is bringing its Ioniq electric platform to market by the end of the year and this morning, we reported on the Korea-based automaker developing a next generation battery-powered electric SUV.

Those two automakers are arguably the most entrenched in fuel cell technology with the Toyota Mirai, the Hyundai Tuscon Fuel Cell, and billions spent in investments between the two of them, but the most telling news is that Honda, another fuel cell believer, is planning to launch a battery-powered version of the Clarity, a car it actually developed for its fuel cell program.

Again, this transition is long overdue. For most people, the physics of fuel cell vehicles make little sense compared to battery-powered vehicles. The complex powertrain featured above should be enough to drive people away from the technology, but a more simple demonstration of the inefficiency of fuel cell versus electric vehicle is evident when comparing cycles:

hybrid_hydrogen_vs_electric_chart

In most cases, a battery-powered vehicle is almost 3 times more efficient. One can only presume why automakers have been stuck trying to make it happen anyway, but the technology conveniently needs a similar (and profitable) refinery and refuelling supply chain as the gasoline model. Could that be it?

The only real advantage fuel cells *currently* have over batteries is refueling speed which is quickly being closed by Tesla’s Supercharger and other DC fast charging technology.

The automakers who are pushing fuel cell are also primarily located in Japan and Korea where governments are offering subsidies for the vehicles and financing for the required infrastructures. These incentives extended to the US where in California, the latest version of the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program offers bigger incentives to fuel cell cars than to electric vehicle.

Though CARB’s logic for the favoritism is that no one is buying fuel cell cars anyway, so even with bigger incentives per vehicle, they will still spend less money than on popular electric vehicles.

The transition isn’t all bad for fuel cell automobile manufacturers. The work they’ve done and the vehicles they’ve created are still essentially electric cars but with a different (and inferior) storage and fueling system. That means switching to battery EVs will be much easier than starting from scratch.

I think we are going to slowly see these programs disappear, while automakers, like Honda, Toyota and Hyundai, will quietly let their fuel cell programs die and start investing more heavily in electric vehicles. Like they should have years ago.

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Comments

  1. Taylor Marks - 7 years ago

    Then consider how relevant range anxiety is:
    Gas based vehicles: Typically go over 300 miles per fill up. There’s 150K stations across the US. Fill up takes ~5 minutes
    Tesla: Go over 200 miles per fill up. Hundreds of millions of outlets across the US. Fill up takes 90 minutes to 72 hours, depending on which outlet you pick (but you can charge at home overnight, so not a big deal).
    Hydrogen based vehicles: Go over 300 miles per fill up. ~10 charging stations in the US. Fill up takes minutes.

    Gas is obviously superior to Hydrogen – there’s 10K times as many charging stations. It’s not even up for debate.

    It’s debatable whether a Tesla or gas based vehicle is superior. There’s thousands of times as many places where you can charge them, but no matter which one you pick, it’s going to take at least 30x as long, and it may take a thousand times as long.

    • freeform1999 - 7 years ago

      destination & superchargers

      • Marcelo Pacheco - 7 years ago

        Hummm, you miss one hugely important “tidbit”. 90+% of EV charging is done at home, where you pull into your garage, plug in, and forget about it until your need to leave. And you don’t wait until the battery is 10 or 20% left before plugin in, you usually plug in every day.
        As a result, every day you wake up to a full battery, and there’s no actual waiting, you actually save time unless you travel long distance all the time.

        Many people can also charge at work (a substantial % of people that can afford a US$ 70+k car either own their own business or work for a tech savvy company).

        There are exceptions, but EVs just need to appeal to a few % of the earths popullation until they catch on with no turning back, by then, Tesla fast chargers/Chademo/CCS chargers will be available in pretty much every public garage worldwide, and the whole “but I can’t charge in my garage cause I don’t have one” point will be moot.

    • darthbelichick07 - 7 years ago

      Supercharger fillups are more on the order of 30 minutes — you don’t need to charge to 100% to make it to the next Supercharger. And, to charge a 90kWh battery from 0-100% at 120V/15A is 50 hours (theoretically). But, your point is taken — gas cars have much less downtime for long distance driving. And always will.

      In the same vein, I would also point out to Fred that Tesla is up against physics when it comes to reducing charging speed — there’s a safety limit that they’re not likely to cross. Gas/Hydrogen will always have superior refill speeds. But, battery power is advantageous in so many other ways.

      • evDude - 7 years ago

        With longer range vehicles charging time becomes a non-issue most of the time.

        With a 250+ mile range, the vehicle gets topped up at night whilst you are sleeping. The car can then handle almost all trips.

        Also – taking 30 mins to charge back up is not an issue, because once you’ve travelled 250 miles most people want a decent rest anyhow. To eat / relax, walk about etc

      • Randall - 7 years ago

        While current battery construction requires tapering/slowing charging as a cell nears full charge, there is no Physics limit. These limitations are becoming better understood will be overcome, likely by iterative improvement.

      • evFriend - 7 years ago

        I believe there is another issue that is overlooked. For a typical gas station, a bigger one for instance having 6-8 pumps, you can have a typical 40-50 cars per hour that can fill up. To do the same for EVs, even considering superchargers, you’d have to have a 20+ supercharger stations.
        And with a peak of 120kW per supercharger you’d need an infrastructure capable of delivering over 2.5MW of electricity. That is HUGE. And while you can just drop some gas or hydrogen reservoirs in the middle of nowhere to make a station, for superchargers you’d need a small nuclear plant nearby….
        This is not an issue now because there are so few EVs on the road but if the number will spike this will become a very serious issue, not only for remote zones but also for cities and densely populated areas. Already ‘charging etiquette’ has become a thing with people actually fighting over charging spots.
        While the hydrogen/fuel cell solutions have a lots of downsides they do have a very big advantage – they can scale up easily to accommodate huge numbers of vehicles.
        With Tesla 3 and Chevrolet Bolt on the market we’ll see in the next couple of years what will happen, but I’m not that confident that there are actually solutions for delivering HUGE amounts of electricity to be able to charge a growing fleet of EVs.

      • I’ll just expand on your point about increased downtime with long distance travelling in a Tesla. For most people travelling long distances, especially family holidays, there is necessarily ‘downtime’ for meals, bathroom visits etc. For a gas vehicle, these breaks are certainly ‘unproductive downtime’. However, for a Tesla traveller, they might well be considered to be ‘productive downtime’. Enjoy the break, knowing your car will have a “fuller tank” when you set off again. 🙂

    • Haggy - 7 years ago

      Gas based vehicle: Starts each day with whatever amount of gas was in the tank the night before. Users frequently find themselves low on gas, wondering if they can get to their destination on time, or if they will run out of gas before they get to a station. Owners run out of gas regularly. Gas stations close at night, and in some areas it’s earlier than others. Seeing a sign that says “next gas 25 miles” and realizing that it’s late at night and nearby stations are closed creates true range anxiety.

      Tesla: Start each day with a complete charge. If you charge to 90% and have 235 miles of range, drive 40 miles that day and go home, you start the next day with 235 miles of range. The same holds true the next day and the next day…. Even if you forgot to charge, which is about as likely as forgetting to close the garage door, chances are you’ll be fine. But when there’s no gas station on the way home, people forget all the time to take the detour to fill up. On a 450 mile trip, which already means driving most of the day, and is about the limit of what people will drive on a single day (and even at that, will typically be a once or twice a year trip) starting off with a 100% charge and stopping for lunch could mean getting to your destination with no delay at all. A supercharger can add up to 170 miles of range in a HALF HOUR at no cost.

      When people say they can fill up in five minutes, don’t kid yourself. A gas station won’t be on your route 100% of the time, and there will be times when you make a special trip to fill up so you will have gas for the next day. Assuming that a gas station is eight minutes out of your way, that the pump delivers eight gallons a minute, that it takes about a minute to get in and out of your car, pay, etc. and you are third in line, then that’s about 25 minutes right there. Compare that to a person who uses superchargers on 2-3 trips a year and charges at home the rest of the time, and you will see that people spend far more time getting gas than they ever will charging an EV. Add a few minutes more if there’s heavy traffic and you aren’t saving time at all. Even if that happens only once a month, those times alone will take more time than superchargers will in a year, and that’s not counting standard fill ups, even those that are on the way.

      Saying it will take “at least 30 times as long” is a blatant lie. The best case scenario is that there’s a supercharger on the way and you stop for lunch anyway. Since we already know that there are some people who will spend more time getting gas, the best case scenario is that it’s quicker to stop at a supercharger with an EV and MUCH quicker to charge at home which will be 90% of charging. I live 12 minutes from a gas station and my situation is far from unique. If I have to drive to a gas station, it will take longer to fill up each week than it would take for a typical stop at a supercharger on a once or twice a year trip.

      You are ignoring the reality of how people drive, and how much people drive each year. There will always be somebody who will make the argument against EVs by asking what happens if you need to jump into your car and drive to Alaska on a moment’s notice, but it has little to do with how most people use their cars.

      Of course there will be some people who don’t have electricity at home or can’t charge at home, but who pass gas stations every day. For them, an EV might be less convenient. Or there might be a supercharger at a nearby mall where they can go to eat once or twice a week, charge for free, and pay for their meals with what they save on gasoline. An EV won’t be the best choice for everybody, but on a typical road trip there won’t be a significant delay in charging. If there were, Tesla would build more battery swap stations. But the demand isn’t there since your hypothetical situation doesn’t reflect real life. If it did, then battery swap stations would be there.

      • GravatarGeek - 7 years ago

        Wow, where to begin. I realize you like and want to support EVs but let’s not stretch the truth. YOU are the one ignoring the reality of how people drive and how much they drive each year. Gasoline users don’t “frequently find themselves low on gas, wondering if they can get to their destination”. It happens but it’s hardly frequent in terms of occurrences as a percentage of times people get in a car. I can’t remember the last time there wasn’t a gas station enroute when I was driving (or if there ever was a time) and I have never ever gone out of my way to fill up the night before.

        You assume most drivers are careless about the state of their gas tank but will remember to plug the EV in every time they get home. Sorry, that just doesn’t ring true in my experience. The person who can’t remember to fill the tank s/he has been draining the past couple of days isn’t going to remember to plug the car in when s/he gets home either.

        Most of my daily trips are less than the range provided in a Tesla or even a Volt or Leaf. However, I frequently exceed the range of a Volt or a Leaf on single-day drives and occasionally exceed the range of a Tesla. On the LONG road trips I’ve taken (perhaps once every 2-3 years), a Tesla with Supercharger would certainly have added to the travel time. The most recent one, about 1700 miles in 1.5 days, would have required me to take vacation time to complete and made me go out of my way to find Superchargers along the way.

        If you were being intellectually honest, you’d say the EVs now meet the vast bulk of daily commuting needs, especially if the driver is careful to recharge every night.

      • eesny - 7 years ago

        Nice post. You’d have to be an imbecile not to get this.

        Drumroll…..

      • gravedigger - 7 years ago

        I see your point, and it’s a view i didn’t realize. At some point you are right, the availability of gasoline is a “normal” in our lives, but the process of getting it from oil fields in your car is long and interuptable.

        – prices of oil go up and down (electricity is a basic need, and prices are regulated, not Always a good thing…)
        – if there are strikes and delivery to your petrol station didn’t happen, no fuel for you.
        – if the bank card company has problems, no fuel for you.
        – if war in far away countries blocks oil delivery, in time, no fuel for you.
        – if an oil ship crashed or a oil Island blew up, in time, less oil, less fuel, no fuel for you.
        – if ….

        So next time you stop at a petrol station, and the sign sais “out of gas”, or “out of order”, or the sign sais “only cash”, but there is electricity because the lights are burning … 🙂

    • Robert Karaffa - 7 years ago

      Refueling at home is a most compelling factor.

    • sowhat22 - 7 years ago

      Because we drive over 200 miles on a daily basis. Not!

      When are people like you going to give up on your futile attempts? They make absolutely NO logical sense.

    • dub-Leon - 7 years ago

      I feel can have an idea to solve the problem, but I’m a Chinese student, there is no way to practice.

    • strangething - 7 years ago

      Most people seem to forget that you can charge at home overnight, you never need a quick refuel unless your going long distance.

    • Sturle - 7 years ago

      I spend less time filling up my Tesla than I used to spend filling my old diesel. In my old car I had to stop at a gas station every week, sometimes more, and spend a few minutes filling, in addition to the time it took to get off and on the main road, etc. Now, I just plug in when I arrive at home, and take the plug out when I leave. When driving very far, I need to take a 20-30 minute break every few hours to charge, but who doesn’t need a break on a long trip? I usually spend more time eating, using the toilet, etc, than the car needs to charge up to the next supercharger. Those long trips are not very frequent, and not in a hurry. I live on a country with a lot of weather, and have learned to expect delays on long trips. Road repairs or construction, snow storms, ferry problems, etc. If I could pay $2k extra to have my Tesla supercharge twice as fast, I would decline the offer. It would save about 10 to 20 minutes a year of productive time.

    • Randy C. - 7 years ago

      You hit the nail on the head. The real problem is $$$. When you start putting real dollar amounts to the hydrogen infrastructure, hydrogen looses its appeal fast. The only reason hydrogen looks good now is the heavy subsidies (i.e. government agency builds a fueling station or two) that temporarily pulls the prices down.

    • Agree 100%.

      Funny how BEV fans use efficiency to argue that FCEVs are “bad,” then get upset when someone uses the very same argument to demonstrate that the old-fashioned ICE delivers a lot of what consumers want.

  2. Rio (@Crzy_rio) - 7 years ago

    Even if we did have hydrogen gas station everywhere, Hydrogen fuel cells are still some time off from being widespread. There are to many other things that are still not sorted out and companies have just been putting them out to get headlines imo.

  3. Luke - 7 years ago

    Fool cells

    • N - 7 years ago

      c’mon. they’er on the shuttle, the ISS, and the Command Modules from the Apollo missions. they do work. they’re just not the way technology need to advance in autos.

      • pepper - 7 years ago

        It makes sense to use fuel cell in ISS and any thing with cryogenic hydrogen tank which keeps boiling off.

      • zilfondel - 7 years ago

        The ISS does not have fuel cells, it uses batteries and solar panels. The shuttle and the Apollo spacecraft used them, but that was long before efficient solar panels and high-capacity, lightweight batteries.

  4. md - 7 years ago

    Genuinely feel sad for them. Some delusional senior engineers really sold the board that they need to invest a couple B’s instead of researching and building battery factories.

  5. Nøderak - 7 years ago

    try not to forget home charging. only 20% of the first Billion miles came from SCs. You can’t get gas at home, hence the need for a petrol filling station on every (other) corner.

  6. Walt - 7 years ago

    A retweet by the man himself! Cool.

    • md - 7 years ago

      Who?

      • sowhat22 - 7 years ago

        Elon

      • md - 7 years ago

        Strange. I checked it before I wrote this and didnt see anything from him. Now its there.

  7. paul - 7 years ago

    Sure turning renewable electricity into hydrogen is difficult and expensive, but that was never the plan. Cheap hydrogen comes from steam reforming natural gas. Japan has an enormous reserve of untapped and difficult to extract methane hydrates on the ocean floor that they were planning on using to obtain hydrogen. Of course if they do attempt to extract those hydrates on an industrial scale they will release a shit-ton of methane which is 20 times worse than CO2 into the atmosphere and cook the entire planet.

    So it is nice to see Korean and Japanese manufacturers focusing more on electric vehicles.

  8. Illuminati - 7 years ago

    Elon Musk vs Hydrogen: https://goo.gl/HAnbOF

  9. Kuk - 7 years ago

    Who want to sit on the hydrogen tank with 700 bar pressure? ;D

    • falconfour - 7 years ago

      Pick me! I want to go to the moon! 😀

  10. Geoff - 7 years ago

    The elephant in the room for Hyrogen is the tremendous amount of energy stored in those tanks. As cars become more plentiful the tinkerers will come out of the wood work to find out how strong those tanks are. People will be firing 308s and trying C4 on the tanks. I can see a time when hydrogen cars are banned from certain facilities for security reasons.
    If I’m way off base I’ll be happy to hear different.

    • Al - 7 years ago

      Only in America.

    • Djf - 7 years ago

      H/Cell Energy Corp.
      IPO on OTCQX coming soon – June 2016.
      Fuel cells – FAA Approved. Water bottles – NOT!
      The coming hydrogen future is here.
      Elon Musk aka Sour Grapes.
      Moral of story: Don’t bet the farm on old technology – batteries.

      Check. It. Out.

  11. dub-Leon - 7 years ago

    I feel can have an idea to solve the problem, but I’m a Chinese student, there is no way to practice.

  12. MikeS - 7 years ago

    I imagine that Tesla will eventually provide roll-up solar panels that would allow one to charge their model 3 out in the middle of nowhere, in an emergency. Even just enough charge to get you 10 miles would sqve many butts. Can’t do that if you run out of gas.

  13. Simon - 7 years ago

    Hydrogen is not the answer.

    Ask yourself the question, commercially, how do we get hydrogen?

    Answer: From oil/Gas.

    remind me what the point of Hydrogen fuel-call cars are again?

    • Donna J. Fasanella - 7 years ago

      Hydrogen is the answer. Making hydrogen from oil/gas is stupid. Solar energy changed into hydrogen is the smartest renewable energy known to man. A catalyzing material (usually platinum) is needed to perform electrolysis. The hydrogen is captured in regular run-of-the-mill, usually steel, propane cylinder tanks and are the most common type of LP gas containers in the world. They number in the billions. Hydrogen has no shelf life. It has no expiration date. It can be used to cook with. It can be changed into fuel cells. I suggest that you do some serious research into the proven capability of hydrogen as the most sustainable renewable CLEAN energy. Zero carbon emissions. NASA has been using hydrogen for many years. Mike Strizki is a friend of mine and holds many patents for this technology.

      • So you are going to use solar to create Hydrogen…
        1. You now have to transport all those cylinders to another holding tank with Diesel Trucks.
        2. You have to create incredibly expensive fuelling stations.
        3. Hydrogen is inefficient
        4. Terrorists will love Hydrogen.
        5. Big oil will switch to Hydrogen and will continue to make billions from us.
        6.

        I’ll let others fill in the multitude of reasons why this is a bad idea.

  14. Eliran - 7 years ago

    I will not trust my family or my own life driving or riding with a hydrogen fuel tank underneath. EVER !

  15. JeffG - 7 years ago

    The problem with EV is the battery, as when it goes and it will it is costly to replace, in the thousands. EV gets a break from government taxes but that is ending. The costs of electricity versus gas is higher per mile, and those free EV filling pods at various locations are changing to only free if you buy at the location. There is no way to tell at this point the costs or convenience of Hydrogen cells. The better solution all around would be alcohol as it is easy to produce, burns clean (no smog), can run in most engines we have on the road, would use the same delivery system as gas, cheap, and has been proved in Brazil.

    • tokarev - 7 years ago

      Electricity is far cheaper than gas per mile. Stop trying to spread misinformation. And yes we know the cost and convenience of hydrogen fuel cell. It comes from fossil fuels, is less convenient than batteries, is less efficient and costs more. Ethanol doesn’t work. It’s heavily subsidized, terrible for the environment, and it takes up farmland which drives up food prices. Also, it takes almost a gallon of oil to produce a gallon of corn based ethanol.

      You need to educate yourself.

      • Djf - 7 years ago

        “And yes we know the cost and convenience of hydrogen fuel cell. It comes from fossil fuels, is less convenient than batteries, is less efficient and costs more.” Yes, hydrogen can and is, stupidly, produced from fossil fuels. Now, it is being produced from solar energy – SURPRISE! Annnnnd, it’s more convenient than batteries, more efficient and costs less.
        See above in reply to Geoff.

        You need to educate yourself.

  16. Luke - 7 years ago

    “I think we are witnessing the start of a new (but long overdue) trend this year. The few established automakers still pushing fuel cell hydrogen vehicles appear to be warming up to battery-powered electric vehicles instead. Honda, Toyota and Hyundai, arguably the automakers most stuck on hydrogen, all announced new electric vehicle programs in the past few weeks.”

    I’m sorry, stuck on hydrogen? They’ve introduced one hydrogen prototype vehicle. Meanwhile each has production electric cars for sale. Where do you see that as being stuck on something? Hydrogen is a better alternative to electric. It has the potential to be vastly cleaner, and have you tried to charge your EV lately? Hydrogen cars fuel as fast as gas-powered vehicles.

    • Eric Crouch - 7 years ago

      I worked in the hydrogen reformation and containing industry – it’s simply never going to be “clean” fuel. Hess and other oil conglomerates bought up all of the IP surrounding reformation of complex carbohydrates and bio-waste and subsequently forced natural gas into the equation. With a veil of “green” energy surrounding the industry there are no checks and balances for reformate exhaust composition. These companies dump tons (tonnes) of CO, CO2, and COOH into the atmosphere year round. If anyone has any practical experience in science you know that reactions aren’t perfect. Millions of dollars have been spent trying to perfect this process with yields far below 50%. This is still ignoring the liquefaction or compression aspects of Hydrogen which are energy intensive and quite dangerous. H2 is not something you want to deal with where micro-fractures from vibration can end in explosions or invisible multi-thousand degree jets of flame.

      Simply put, breaking hydrocarbons into their component C, O, and H molecules still has us sipping off the teet of big oil and big gas no matter how you spin the table.

  17. Dr. Hydrogen - 7 years ago

    The most famously incorrect quotes in history often include absolutistic statements like “we’ll never need,” or “will never be.” This is because it is incredibly difficult to predict how things will evolve, because it’s emergent. This is why a leading definition of intelligence is “the maximization of future freedoms.” Unpacking that definition is complex in itself– If we spend all of our resources on researching all the solutions, we don’t have enough left for the solution that eventually works. At the same time, if we put all resources into researching one solution….

    Most fuel cell researchers applaud the advance of battery technology, we need all of our solutions to work to save the planet. That’s why we really need to thank Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai’s efforts and investments in hydrogen tech and hope that they continue the effort to success. Most analyses show that the most sustainable vehicle configuration, including infrastructure costs, is actually a plug-in battery-hydrogen fuel-cell hybrid. Imagine a 50 mile battery range, which is what most of you need, with a 300 mile backup fuel cell range, for when you need to go. That’s the real future we all want.

    Every public transformer in the country will need to be upgraded to handle more than 3 EV chargers on the same block. Walmart, Kroger, Fedex and many more are rapidly adopting hydrogen fuel cell powered forklifts in distribution centers that run 24/7 regardless of the efficiency of hydrogen production. Fuel cell vehicles are very amenable to the fleet models of the future that Uber, Google, and others are moving towards. It’s difficult to justify the down-town space or time it takes to charge a fully battery electric vehicle when it needs to be picking up someone or something else. Don’t make decisions on entire fields or approaches based on what is currently out there, because it will be different tomorrow.

    The only thing that absolutistic (right vs. wrong) articles like this — that neglect the potential of technologies to help us long term — accomplish is to diminish our future freedoms. That’s the fastest way of ensuring we eventually abandon planet earth for Mars.

  18. alan ward - 7 years ago

    I think cella beads 5 years out and catalyst nickel and base electrolyte some small years away will solve this impasse as $1.50 gallon hydrogen in this storage, plus transport to main factory beads or leasing will allow, plus cars below 24 thousand.

  19. scratchy scratch - 7 years ago

    How much do you make an hour? Let’s say $50 or $25. That means you have to work one or two hours to afford a tank of gas (typical US car). If you Supercharge for an hour you have now saved the cash because it’s free and on top of that got to use that hour to do whatever pleases you. Surfing, eating, sleeping, watching people continually pay for fuel at the nearby gas station…

  20. PDiracDelta - 7 years ago

    The image and post you refer to are 10 years old. Science has advanced during this time; please update your information source.

    • Sturle - 7 years ago

      I can see where it is wrong. Electrolysis isn’t even close to 75% efficient. It is more in the 60% range. Fuel cells have become slightly more efficient, at about 60% now. So the net result is even worse. You can improve it a bit by running the electrolysis in-situ at the fuel station. A hydrogen fuel station capable of filling up 3 Toyota Mirai an hour (15 kg H2 at 700 bar every hour, 72 cars per day) will draw about 1 MW continous power from the grid. Slightly more than the maximum possible consumption for a Tesla Supercharger with 14 stalls. This is based on the best commercially available electrolysis technology, using 65 kWh per kg hydrogen at 700 bar. This means about 325 kWh in for each 100 kWh usable in the FCV, or 3 times as much as a BEV.

  21. TR - 7 years ago

    There are some of us, who still don’t have access to wall outlets where our cars are parked overnight. Apartments, homes without garages, condos, street parking etc. Superchargers are not supposed to be continuously used by the same people (remember the letters that were sent out to Tesla owners that Superchargers are for commuters and to refrain from using the same supercharger station?)

    The more electric cars that are sold the more charging stations will be needed at malls, public places etc. Unless there’s a big shift in the infrastructure to support electric cars needing to be charged, I don’t believe this is a viable option (not an exact example, but have you seen the people at airports looking for power outlets to charge up?)

    At least when you go to a gas station and there are 10 people ahead of you, you can still average the time that will take and decide to wait or go to the next one. With electric, you will not know how long the person ahead of you plans to charge his vehicle (every vehicle charges different)

    • strictly speaking - 7 years ago

      The model 3 will come with Tesla autopilot included. I think that for people who don’t have their own garage self driving cars could move us towards a future where our cars park themselves in public garages instead of streets when we don’t need them. Thank god for that, the currently common model of allocating ~40% of the surface area on small streets to parking is very inefficient. Cars self-navigating to a multi-story garage and being summoned at will would significantly reduce congestion in cities.

    • aramis720 - 7 years ago

      TR, charging infrastructure for EVs is growing rapidly. There are over 12,000 chargers installed in the US now, up from just hundreds five years ago. Soon they’ll be everywhere. I never charge at home and I’ve had an EV for a year and a half now.

  22. Gerald G. Hicks - 7 years ago

    Individual Autonomy is always more problematic for market prediction than infrastructure dependency. But remember that the opposite of a great truth is also a great truth, so there is similar predictability in a “distributed” power grid. And somewhat disingenuous, when any one designing space vehicles knows they rely on the 100 year old & proven Fuel Cell technology. Your battery driven car will need to be plug into your house to draw current – a Fuel Cell vehicle will be plugged into your home to power it or feed the grid. And next to the dams and coal plants – that’s where the batteries belong. JG Hicks

    • aramis720 - 7 years ago

      Gerald, battery EVs can do exactly the same thing in terms of providing power back to the grid, and again with 3x efficiency, so this is not an advantage for FCVs.

  23. aramis720 - 7 years ago

    Great article and beautiful chart. I’ve been hammering on the 3x efficiency issue for years now and it’s good to see the Japanese automakers finally acknowledging basic physics.

  24. Efficiency is irrelevant. All that matters is cost, convenience, usability, and value. Any argument about the superiority of FCEVs that hinges on their relevant inefficiency vs. BEVs reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the marketplace.

    Specifically, consumers couldn’t care less about efficiency. The proof? More than half the new vehicles that have been sold the last few years are inefficient SUVs and pickup trucks. The other half include a lot of very expensive, very powerful coupes and sedans that waste fuel nearly as well as they waste money.

    If FCEVs can offer more convenience and a lower cost than BEVs, consumers are going to be interested in them. No amount of efficiency calculus will change this basic fact.

  25. “automakers, like Honda, Toyota and Hyundai, will quietly let their fuel cell programs die and start investing more heavily in electric vehicles”

    Point of fact: FCEVs *are* electric vehicles. A fuel cell converts hydrogen and free oxygen into electricity and water. The electricity then powers the vehicle.

    Not to be a jerk, but this is kind of an important point. FCEVs and BEVs only differ in their storage medium. One storage medium has ten times the energy density of fossil fuels, and the other seems to have a devoted (and largely ignorant) fan base.

  26. Timmy - 7 years ago

    “going electric” in the title should better read, “going battery-electric”. FCEVs, as sad as they are, are still “electric” vehicles — just not *battery* electric.

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Avatar for Fred Lambert Fred Lambert

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