Are you choosing Sides Already?
Hydrogen powered vehicles are in the news again and it is being loudly claimed that there is coming a battle between Electric or Hydrogen Powered Vehicles. Although it seems that most car makers are still pursuing both types of vehicle, clearly there are some who have already chosen sides. Toyota, Hyundai and Honda will produce their fuel-cell vehicles closer to the end of 2015 in small numbers. Honda and Toyota clearly still believes that hydrogen is the future fuel with zero-emissions, while Tesla, Nissan, BMW and General Motors are still choosing the battery-electric cars. We find two members of Daimler-Ford-Nissan-Renault fuel-cell partnership somewhere in between.
However, by the time the first hydrogen Hyundai is turned on in early spring, the U.S. roads will already be seeing electric plug-in cars numbered at 200,000. Globally, this number may be doubled. Toyota envisions a market demand for ‘thousands’ of hydrogen cars by the year 2020 and 500 Fuel Cells each year are the plan of Hyundai. The possibility that a million plug-in cars will be produced each year by 2020 is here.
Hydrogen may present an infrastructure problem, but it is not alone in this. Public electric-car charging also has issues, especially when it comes to 240-Volt Level 2 charging which can take between 3 to 6 hours to fully recharge almost all plug-in cars. However electricity exists almost everywhere, but it will cost $1 million-plus for the construction of hydrogen fueling stations, not to mention the rezoning of municipal services to cover hydrogen stations. With a non existent hydrogen supply in the US, it will be left to large appliance makers like Westinghouse to produce a natural gas fueling compressor.
With North America possessing a lot of natural gas, at low prices, some policymakers are more than willing to agree to the reduction of short to medium term emissions instead of waiting for vehicles with zero-emissions. Finally, we have to look at how hydrogen helps the final goal of eliminating vehicle emissions and the reduction of the energy footprint, or carbon emissions. It is clear that these vehicles will be built by Global automakers between now and 2020. They will only be used where Hydrogen-fuel stations are already underway, and that means only in California. It is expected that a lot more electricity, more natural gas, and more ethanol is going to be used in cars in future. It is also expected that the sales of plug-in cars in the U.S. will probably be about 90,000 this year alone. 15,000 of these will be the S electric Mode, Tesla luxury sedans which have a range of more than 200 miles.
With the question still looming, electric or hydrogen powered vehicles, will hydrogen even have a place? It seems that it has never been shown that there is even a small market for hydrogen vehicles. Some don’t see a market or infrastructure appearing in the near future. It is said that those car makers who are claiming no markets exists for electric vehicles, are still waiting for a hydrogen vehicle market to be built. What we have so far, is that you won’t be able to drive your electric car out of the area where there are no charging stations and we still live in hope for the hydrogen powered fueling stations that are in the plan for 2015.