Hydrogen cars could be just 10 years away

Posted by Laura Grant on December 12, 2008
Posted in Transport

Hydrogen-powered cars may be in mass production in the next decade, a New York Times article reported recently. Car makers and energy companies in the United States have begun to step up their efforts to develop hydrogen cars and the fuelling infrastructure needed to keep them on the road.

Honda is planning to have a hydrogen model in mass production by 2018, says the article. Ford, Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen are also working on prototypes.

“Hydrogen was forever 20 years away, but now, for the first time, you see some of the milestones moving closer, not away anymore,” Mike McGowan, the chairman of the US National Hydrogen Association, told the NYT. “There is now almost a sense of urgency about the infrastructure.”

There’s been something of a stalement, with car makers arguing that there’s no point rolling out hydrogen cars if there isn’t a network of fuelling stations for them and  energy companies arguing that there was no point in spending vast sums on creating the fuelling infrastructure when there are hardly any cars on the road.

But now, thanks to the volatility of the oil price and the threat of climate change, there’s a new urgency to develop alternative energy technologies. Cars and fuelling stations are to be introduced in “clusters” in urban centres such as Los Angeles, Berlin and Tokyo.

For example, in Southern California, Shell has introduced a hydrogen pump at one of its service stations and more are apparently on the cards. At the same time, Honda is leasing about 200 of its FCX Clarity cars over the next three years to selected customers in the region, who will be able to fill their cars up at the Shell service stations.

The cars are reportedly being leased for about $600 a month – far less than they would cost to buy. But, encouragingly, there was a huge public interest in the leasing programme.

The United States’s National Research Council estimates that there may be two million hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road by 2020. This would represent only 1 percent of all vehicles on the road in the US, but the numbers are expected to rise dramatically after that.

Read the full article here

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