Recently Toyota, Honda and Hyundai have announced that they plan to build hydrogen-powered cars over the next couple years. These new autos may leave electric cars in the dust, and here’s why.
Here’s the good news:
1. Hydrogen is really clean. Emissions from a hydrogen vehicle will be water and electricity. And that’s it. They give off zero emissions, just like an electric battery.
2. They’re fast to charge. You can do a three-minute refueling and head out for 300 or even 400 miles.
3. They engine is quiet. It’s almost eerie how quiet, testers have commented.
4. They’ve got power. A common complaint in drivers of electric and hybrids, like the best-selling Prius, is the lack of “oomph” when accelerating. Testers say hydrogen vehicles are faster to speed up.
5. Safer in accidents. While gasoline spills out on highways in an accident, hydrogen gas stored in carbon-fiber tanks is likely to just dissipate quickly. This could mean less flames in the face of a collision.
The bad news:
1. The cost of hydrogen fuel stations. Building these everywhere could be a showstopper for this technology. California is currently subsidizing stations with hydrogen fuel in a few select cities, but making this a national effort would cost a lot. As of 2012, there are only 48 hydrogen stations in the country.
A 2008 study by the National Academy of Sciences estimated it costing $55 billion of public money to get two million hydrogen cars on the roads in the U.S. by 2023. It’s only likely to happen if lawmakers put a real price on the carbon pollution we’re currently creating.
2. Hydrogen is not squeaky clean to produce. It’s generated from natural gas, and that process does emit carbon dioxide. The hydrogen available in the United States is either extracted from fossil fuels or made using processes powered by fossil fuels, so there’s no real emissions savings or reduction of fossil-fuel usage. if we were able to make it from wind power, that would be the golden ticket for the environment.
3. The car cost is forbiddingly expensive. Previously, Toyota and Honda were spending upwards of $1 million to produce each fuel-cell per car. Although, the government is doing well when it comes to offering tax incentives for vehicles using alternative-energy. There are so many different types of estimators that can help figure this out. However Toyota recently promised a mass-produced fuel-cell vehicle in Japan by 2015 and one in the United States by 2016. This is cheap enough to make them a realistic option for consumer purchase.