Automobile manufacturers seem to be gaining traction and interest in developing hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicles. And this should be no surprise as engineers have always looked at hydrogen fuel-cell technology as the future thanks to its ability to propel vehicles while only emitting water vapor.
Even just a couple years ago, the technology seemed to be more of a dream than a reality since the hydrogen fuel-cell trend has been inhibited by the cost and the lack of infrastructure. Now though, as companies seek to make more environmentally friendly automobiles by taking it to the next level, Bloomberg reports that Toyota will be unveiling a new high-powered sedan at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show in November. But better yet, Toyota seeks to have “Prius-like success” with their new hydrogen fuel-cell model, which is reportedly slated for a 2015 launch.
But referring back to the challenges of hydrogen fuel-cells, the reason why infrastructure hasn’t been on the rise is due to the fact that hydrogen takes an extensive amount of energy to produce, which in the grander picture, it doesn’t make a case for itself in the realm of efficiency. Though many have argued that the technology just has yet to be standardized—much in the same way the oil industry was standardized during our Industrial Revolution.
Even Tesla’s Elon Musk has reportedly expressed his disdain for hydrogen fuel-cell technology: “Fuel cells should be renamed ‘fool cells,’ they are so stupid,” Musk said in an interview last month. “You could take best case of a fuel cell, theoretically the best case, and it does not compete with lithium-ion cells today. And lithium-ion cells are far from their optimum.”
But then again, Musk has been hugely aggressive with his plans to make Tesla successful (and it has paid off thus far) and with Tesla being a forefront in luxury EVs that actually work with long driving ranges, I wouldn’t doubt that Musk feels like his potential is threatened by the growing trend of researching fuel-cell technology.
Either way, hydrogen fuel-cell technology makes perfect sense. We just have to find a way to make it cost efficient.
– By: Chris Chin