Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Toyota_FCV

Published on July 15th, 2014 | by Steve Hanley

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Toyota Executive Puts Kibosh On Electric Cars

Toyota_FCV

Toyota is about to pull the plug on electric cars. Production of its last EVs – the eQ electric minicar and RAV4 EV crossover – will be finished by the end of 2014, and there are no plans for any future Toyota full-size electric cars at the moment (though the Toyota i-Road three-wheeler is making headway as a rental). Recently, Mitsuhisa Kato, Toyota’s head of research and development, told Automotive News;

The cruising distance is so short for EVs, and the charging time is so long. At the current level of technology, somebody needs to invent a Nobel Prize-winning type battery.

He says today’s EVs need more batteries to offer the same driving range as a gasoline or diesel powered car. That in turn would increase the cost and charging time, leading to a “vicious cycle.”

Kato’s remarks came at the unveiling of Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell powered car, the FCV, which is set to appear in showrooms in 2015. The Japanese auto industry as a whole is placing a huge bet on hydrogen being the fuel of choice in the future with automakers like Honda and Mazda also committing to hydrogen. At the same time, much of the rest of the automotive industry is pressing ahead to bring more electric cars to market. Somewhere down the line, there will be much weeping and wringing of hands in the board rooms of some of the world’s biggest car manufacturers. We just don’t know which ones yet.

Kato says if electrics turn out to be the way to go, Toyota has the technology already on the shelf and can ramp up production of EV’s whenever that “Nobel Prize winning battery” becomes available. In the meantime, no one is going to be buying fuel cell cars unless tens of thousands of hydrogen refueling facilities get built.

In the end, the key to the EV vs. fuel cell battle will be determined by infrastructure as much as technology.




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About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when articles by John R. Bond and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. I know every nut, bolt and bullet connector on an MGB from 20 years of ownership. I now drive a 94 Miata for fun and the occasional HPDE track day. If it moves on wheels, I am interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.



  • egogg

    Toyota just bet wrong.

    • Ben Helton

      You are among great company; All of the people who laughed at the Prius – and thought it would tank Toyota.

      I’m sure they were all betting that Toyota would become the world’s largest and most premiere auto maker. Hopefully they were smart enough and invested in GM, as obviously battery electrics are the way to go when it comes to a profitable company.

      • Steve Grinwis

        The Prius was different. Toyota took a risky position there, and it paid off for them. Now they’re taking the safe position, and hoping everyone else fails.

        It’s really easy to sit on a research novelty car, and say everyone else’s mass markets cars are going to fail.

        Much harder to be first to market with a great fully electric that everyone wants.

        I should point out, that electric cars are more energy efficient than girl cells. As such the cost to operate an electric is going to be lower. This means, the fuel cell care are going to have to drop in price to be cheaper than the electrics to compete economically. And that says nothing about the costs of the during stations.

      • egogg

        Management can and does change over time. Just because they made a clairvoyant choice with the Prius, doesn’t mean their crystal ball is working for HFCV.

        But I’m good with them building HFCV. They’re just electric cars. Maybe I’ll pick up a used one with a clogged fuel cell and put a nice used Leaf battery in it here in a decade.

    • gendotte

      Don’t bet on it.

      • egogg

        BRB, trading all of my Toyota for Tesla stock. That was fast, I don’t own any Toyota stock.

  • Steve Hanley

    I also think Toyota is taking a risky position, egogg. But its sort of like vhs vs betamax all over again, isn’t it? We just don’t know how this is all going to shake out.

    The Japanese are going all in on hydrogen, at the behest of the Japanese government, but they better get busy pretty damn quick on building a broad network of hydrogen refueling stations if they want to make their bets pay off.

    And note that Toyota is not backing away from hybrids and/or plug ins, just pure electrics.

    Will there be a game changing Nobel Prize winning battery? Yeah, I think there will be……eventually. The real question is, when?

  • Burnerjack

    So the Prius is now dead?

    • Steve Hanley

      No, Jack. Toyota is saying sayonara to pure electrics like the LEAF and Tesla. It is still fully committed to hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

  • Ecomike

    Mantra energy fuel cells will soon end the need for hydrogen, as waste CO2 gets converted to formic acid using renewable energy, and then used in a new generation of ultra light, small, super cheap fuel cells.

    http://www.mantraventuregroup.com

    • gendotte

      After looking at the site I believe that I will withold an opinion until the smoke – and mirrors – disipate a bit.

  • Steve Grinwis

    I love how Toyota is saying that the Tesla model S should be winning a Nobel prize? Because clearly, what several thousand Model S are doing isn’t yet technically possible…

    And what’s the big deal on charge times? Most houses can easily support a 10kw charger, that would charge a Tesla overnight. Are they realy saying that consumers have a pressing need to drive more than 400 km a day? ( and can’t use the existing fast charger network?)

    Charge times aren’t an issue. Battery durability isn’t an issue. Battery performance isn’t an issue. The only issue is battery cost. And if you take a peek, you’ll notice that battery prices are dropping, fairly quickly. It’s already viable for short range commuter cars. Another three years will see longer ranges available as an option.

    • Steve Hanley

      So, you are comfortable having your lifestyle be dictated by your car? Not all of us can afford a Tesla AND a 10kW charger. Not all of us want to wake up in the morning knowing we are tethered to a certain range we can travel from home before we have to call AAA for assistance.

      The ugly truth of the matter is that most of the BEV’s currently available want us to believe that having a range of 70-100 miles is something we should be grateful for. Baloney.

      Will there be enormous breakthroughs in battery technology in the future? Absolutely. But they are not here yet and the current crop of EV’s is unacceptable to most potential buyers.

      And as I have said, if a system of hydrogen refueling stations doesn’t get put into place soon, the FCV and its cousins will be DOA as well.

      These are interesting times. Chances are that none of us is able to see the future as clearly as we might like. Society has seen an unlimited stream of great technologies that could not survive in the marketplace – laser discs, quadraphonic sound systems, cassette tapes, VHS, Betamax. I’m still wondering what to do with my extensive collection of 8 track tapes!

      “We shall see,” said the Zen master.

      • egogg

        I’ve made this argument a lot. I own a BEV with 120 miles range. I also own a small gas car for longer trips. Most people in the US own two vehicles. I live 10 miles from work and I almost never drop below 80% battery level on my standard workday, with exceptions for when I drive extra for groceries and/or the odd trip.

        With Telsa, they have their nationwide network of free superchargers that give you 200 miles of range in 30 minutes (I don’t know about you, but I’m good with a 30 minute break after 3 hours of driving). More than enough to make it to the next supercharger, and people have already made NY-LA trips in them. As for the cost, it is going to drop with volume, and they’re coming out with a cheaper model next year.

        If people live in apartments, they can get a Volt PHEV and charge at work or at walgreens, or at any of the thousands of level 2 chargers already in place, and never buy gas. Or they could not charge it at all and still get a respectable 35mpg. And a Volt is very reasonably priced.

        All I’m trying to say is people’s perceptions, if they are indeed that EV’s are unnacceptable for the reasons you outlined, are wrong. Hopefully companies like Tesla can correct that perception.

        • Steve Hanley

          Thoughtful and useful input, sir! I acknowledge that for some, the current EV’s are perfectly acceptable. But for others, they are not and will not be for some time.

          And of course, in the marketplace, perception IS reality. As I said. Interesting times, and those who say that EV’s are the Holy Grail delivered and sitting in your driveway are wrong, just as Luddites who decry the EV movement as a flash in the pan are wrong.

          My prediction is that, 10 years from now, the cars we have available will be VASTLY different from what we have now and that no one can accurately predict how we will get from here to there.

          I think Toyota is out on a limb here. We shall see, eh?

          • johnackerby

            They aren’t yet but I do think that the technology is evolving rapidly. I think that the technology to solve all of the problems associated with the electric car battery will be found within 2 years. But then the issue will be how long will it take to go from discovery to implanting the new battery technology into cars? How long do you think something like that take – discovery of the right electric battery to implanting them into cars?

      • Steve Grinwis

        I am completely comfortable by having my lifestyle dictated by a car. I know this because I own an EV. I drive 20 miles to work, each way, and typically use about 40% battery to do this. The biggest difference for me between having a gasoline car and an electric car these days, is that you plug your car in every night, and don’t have to visit a gas station.

        I am very grateful for this opportunity. I’m saving a mint driving this car vs the gasoline car I had previously. Current estimates place the savings at close to $4000 per year.

        The current crop of EV’s may be unacceptable to most buyers, but that’s because of range anxiety, not because they actually need to drive more than 100 miles a day. Some 80+% of drivers would be perfectly comfortable with 100 miles if they gave it a shot. For those longer trips, assuming they don’t already have a second car (which most have), they could rent a car, easily, and for more cheaply than owning the gasoline car in the first place. With the $4000 I save every year, I could rent a fullsize car for 8 weeks a year, and still break even. This idea that your car has to to cover the 99th percentile of what you might possibly do is kinda silly.

        Most people own cars, and not massive trucks. Does it bother all those car owners that they can’t pull a 35′ sailboat with their cars? Why Not? Is it perhaps because they’ll rarely need to do that? Why not have a car that covers 95% of what they’ll ever need to do, is nicer to drive, and cheaper to own, and rent an appropriate vehicle for those few times when they want to take a long trip? It much cheaper, much better for the environment, and in the end, much more convenient for the driver.

        The 10 kW charger is actually cheaper than you might suspect. The OpenEVSE project lets you buy one for about $400-$500 through eMotorWerks. And as has been pointed out, the price of batteries is falling. No new battery technology need evolve. It’s ready for the primetime now. We just need the economics of scale, and competition to continue to drive prices down. We can already build cars now that go 300 miles, and can be recharged to 80% in 20 minutes. That’s fairly equivalent to most gasoline cars, with the average range being about 400 miles, and fillups taking 5 minutes.

        The only issue is cost. As stated.

      • Randall Smith

        You make some good points and the fact is today, July 28, 2014, neither tech is viable for most people.

        Being and engineer and lover of logic and science, it is my veiw that the BEV is very plausible, while the FCV has too many obstacles in place with no clear path forward. I think Tesla will deliver on the Model III and it will mark the beginning of EV mass adoption.

        The BEV limitations you’ve mentioned are well understood and solutions are feasible. For instance, study of the lithium-ion batteries at nano-scale has led to an understanding of what limits charge speed and what causes cycle degradation. These studies have lead to improvements such as the use of a silicon anode, which is in use today.

        By contrast, many hydrogen fuel issues such as high energy waste in production and distribution and use of hydrocarbons such as natural gas have no solutions in sight.

        BTW, all production EVs have the charger on-board. Not sure what an electrician would charge to install a 10kw outlet (few hundred dollars I think), but campgrounds are littered with 240V 50 amp (12kw) outlets so they can’t cost that much.

        • Steve Hanley

          I appreciate your input, Randall. I am no engineer, but I know there are a lot of really smart people working on battery technology and I have to believe the batteries of 10 years from now will be light years ahead of what we have now.

          As for hydrogen, I like the concept but if one is using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen to use the hydrogen to make electricity, there seems to be something out of whack with that scenario.

          • Randall Smith

            The chart here, while a bit old puts it plainly.

            http://phys.org/news85074285.html

            Too much energy is wasted producing hydrogen and getting it to your car. While the process for BEV is around 70%, FCV is 30% or worse.

            I only mentioned I was an engineer to express my reliance on facts and logic. I have seen no rational explanation for how FCV can work. There are fundamental issues with FCV with no proposed solutions. Take the energy waste for instance. If you use renewables like solar and wind, 70% of that energy is wasted. A solution may be a catalyst or bacteria that separates hydrogen from water with minimal inputs, but there is no solution like that in sight. What would end up happening in reality is we would use steam reformation of natural gas as is done now.

            And while nobody has a crystal ball, the BEV is addressing all concerns with progress as demonstrated in this article. The issues are understood and improvements are underway. No magic or finger crossing. Just hard science and dedication.

          • Steve Hanley

            I was thinking of your comments just last night as I was working on a story about an announcement from the U of Tokyo School of Engineering that they are working on Li-ion battery that has 7 TIMES more energy density than current batteries. Of course, it is still in the laboratory stage, but just thinking of the possibilities makes my head spin.

          • Randall Smith

            I feel the same way. The breakthrough advances like lithium-air or lithium-sulfur would be great, but there’s no way to put a timeline on them. On the other hand, the incremental improvements underway today give us a reliable means to hit milestones.

            Using current tech, Tesla creates its 60 kwh battery for about $16,000. The cheaper Model III (due in 2017-2018) is thought to require 48 kwh, which would cost ~ $13,000. Tesla says their new factory can reduce cost by 35%, bringing the 48 kwh pack to ~ $8,500.

            So with today’s tech and manufacturing efficiency enhancements, an EV the size of a BMW 3 series with a range of 200 miles can be powered by a battery costing $8,000 – $10,000. A 120 kw super charger would charge this battery in about 20 minutes. Any improvements to battery tech will only improve these figures.

            Personally, I would like to have at least a 300 mile range, which should cost about $15k in this scenario. Getting that closer to $10k would be the sweet spot for many people I think, as it would bring the total cost of the car close to $30k.

          • Steve Hanley

            Exciting Times! : ) I was just thinking today if I had an EV that got 250 miles or so on a charge, that would make sense for my driving needs. As it is, gas costs me about $250 – $300 per month. I could put most of that toward the purchase of an EV.

          • Randall Smith

            Taking your lower figure of $250 per month and assuming gas and electric prices remain steady (electric is 25% cost of gasoline), over 5 years you would save (250 * 0.75 * 60) $11,250 and have 3-5 (estimate for current tech.) years left in the battery pack.

    • johnackerby

      What if I can only afford 1 car? What if I want to take a trip cross-country from Oregon to New York? I can drive 700 miles in a day and at a range of 300 miles per fill-up that means I would need 3 fill-ups per day. In a gasoline powered engine the time to fill up takes about 15 minutes per fill-up but in an electric car it takes about an hour per fill-up. Forget that! I don’t want to spend 3 hours filling up my car per day when I’m on a long drive.

      • Steve Grinwis

        So, you want to do a 700 mile trip! Great! That sounds amazing! Let’s map that out.

        So, you leave with a full charge, because you had your electric car plugged in, like you do every night. That gives you 265 miles of range for a P85.

        You head off first thing in the morning, and cover 200 miles. You stop at a supercharger, plug in, then go see about getting some well deserved breakfast. Your 30 minute stop ends up giving you an additional 190 miles of range (135 kW unit), so you head off again for another couple of hours driving, with a full belly!

        After 3-4 more hours of driving, you could really do with some lunch. After having covered an additional 200 miles, you deserve it right? You stop at a supercharger, and go get some grub. It’s a fancy restaurant, so it takes you a full 40 minutes. During that time, you pull down 210 miles of range on that supercharger, nearly fully charged.

        Time to head off! You’ve got about 300 miles left! You drive for a few more hours, then stop quickly for a snack and a bathroom break at a supercharger. It gives you the 70 miles of range you need to complete your journey in just 15 minutes.

        You get to your destination, and plug in your car, with either a 240v charger, or a simple 120v outlet. Either way, it’ll be able to slow charge all night.

        The net result? You spent about 1.5 hours eating meals, and taking bathroom breaks, and you also spent $0, on an amazing, stress free road trip.

        I’ve done my fair share of road trips, including some super long hauls. I’ve always found it best to get out of the car every once in a while, and stretch your legs. And it would have been super nice to be able to do those trips for free, instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars to some oil baron.

  • gendotte

    I’m going with Toyota on this one. When someone figures out a 500 mile battery with a 10 minute charge, I will change my mind about using hydrogen. But I learned a long time ago, never bet against the sainted Bill Lear on anything.

    • Steve Hanley

      I could use a little help with the Bill Lear reference!

      • egogg

        The Lear charger. There’s one in my Coda.

    • Randall Smith

      When someone figures out how to build hydrogen fueling stations for less than $1 million so that fuel station owners will want to install them, I might change my mind about hydrogen.

      Oh and also how to create hydrogen and store hydrogen for fuel that doesn’t waste 70% of electricity used (electrolysis + pressurization + fuel cell losses) or depend on fossil fuels. The entire point of an alternative fuel is to get away from fossil fuels, yet nearly 100% of hydrogen is produced using natural gas via steam reforming.

  • philb

    Hydrogen costs the equivalent to 4 dollars a gallon of gasoline last I checked? The infrastructure for hydrogen is not there and the talk of local production is a fallacy. I am not happy that Elon opted to put SpaceX launches in Texas “Meaning that Gigafactory is likely going to Texas even as Tesla cannot sell cars in Texas.”.

    Getting that off my chest Toyota has spent billions and billions on hydrogen fuel cell technology. Its this investment they want it to pay off for them they don’t want to help sell electric cars. Everything around hydrogen today requires either natural gas or petroleum to produce?

    They are not producing it from water being the most abundant substance in the universe makes one wonder? The people posting here many here have never owned an electric car like me. That being said I can see the point that some people are making about the time. No one seems to be talking about lithium air batteries or Alcoa’s 1000 miles a charge battery technology.

    Battery technology will improve overtime and range will increase substantially. Tesla is just the first wave of cars. 300 amp chargers and 15 min charge times to 50 percent are not that far off. In the future like 3 years you may be able to only have to recharge your car twice a week? When gasoline engines first started to appear people made adjustments same likely goes for electric cars? The adjustment will not be as long I figure.

    • Steve Hanley

      I don’t disagree with any of that, Phil. We here at Gas2.0 are constantly seeing stories about new battery technologies that promise lighter weight, higher power and more environmentally friendly batteries.

      Everybody is hedging their bets. Coming soon is a story I just completed today in which the head of purchasing for BMW talks about a new cooperation agreement his company has signed with Samsung. But even he says that BMW is still working on fuel cell technology primarily because, while everyone knows the killer battery app is coming, it isn’t HERE yet and they have to be flexible enough to move with the market.

      What concerns me as much as anything is that I foresee early adopters of ANY new technology getting slammed economically when the technology they choose to spend their money on comes up a loser in the marketplace.

      Nobody is going to want a used electric car if hydrogen becomes the technology of choice, just as nobody wanted a 286 computer when the 386 machines arrived on the shelves. And if you go with hydrogen and then the miracle battery comes out, you will have a very expensive boat anchor in your driveway.

      It’s a conundrum for sure. For the moment, I am keeping my money in my pocket and waiting to see what develops.

      • Steve Grinwis

        Alternatively: Lease, at let the car manufacturer assume the risk.

        I can still save money on my lease of an electric car, compared to the gas guzzler I still owned, all while preventing hundreds of pounds of CO2 emissions, and rewarding companies for trying.

        • Steve Hanley

          Leasing is what really powered the computer revolution. Once IBM started leasing their machines instead of trying to sell them, the computer era began in earnest.

          It’s entirely possible the same could happen with EV’s. Good comment!

      • Randall Smith

        If you bought an EV today, it would still be useful (unlike FCV) despite what happens in the fuel wars. You can still plug it in at home for 95% of use and stop off at a campground for road trips should all the charging stations disappear.

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  • ga

    There’s a generational difference coming down on this industry. I grew up in an era of cheap gas, big powerful cars, road trips and neighbors in suburbia talking about their past and future car purchases as freely as the weather. Today’s “kids” are more interested in urban lifestyles, good food and bars and fast internet. Cars are for basic transportation and surely less interesting than what Apple has on the next iphone. Fewer teens have licenses, fewer have cars. Car sharing, house sharing are on fast growth. Little interest in fighting wars to protect gasoline. We old folks associate the open road and unlimited range of gasoline as a symbol of personal freedom..It’s a big differences between that and staring at an iphone screen to pick a blue electic car or red gasoline from zipcar or maybe just skip the driving and take Uber to the party.

    • Steve Hanley

      All good points, GA. I have a post coming along in the next day or two about an opinion piece in Bloomberg News that supports exactly what you say.

  • Roger Pham

    With plummeting cost of solar and wind electricity, the least expensive H2 will be from the above, made in-situ, and not from fossil fuel. With 4 cents/ kWh from either solar or wind, 1 kg of H2 takes 50 kWh and will have a raw cost of $2. Made right at the H2 station means no distribution cost, and it can be sold at $4 with good profit margin. FCV can travel 2-3x further than ICEV, so this is equal to gasoline at $1.5-2/gallon. In Japan, gasoline costs $7 per gallon, so using H2 from RE can save a lot of money.

    Toyota hinted that at volume of 100,000 yearly, FCV will have comparable cost to an ICEV. Meanwhile, the Japanese govt. will subsidize $20,000 for each FCEV, and plan to build 100 H2 stations. Toyota did not miscalculate on FCEV investment! California and Europe are also building H2 stations so fueling FCEV will not be a problem.

    • Garry Holmberg

      Thanks Rover, I did not know about “in situ” so I had to do a little research. That said, I did say in my original post that hydrogen fuel cells have their place. The fact that we can avoid using fossil fuels like natural gas to generate hydrogen is good news and bad.

      Using water to create hydrogen has numerous disadvantages not the least of which is the lack of water. There are very few places on earth where water has not been contaminated by human activity, and most projections say there will be water shortages in the future. Especially as more areas become subject to longer droughts due to climate change. So why would we want to use water as a supply stock for the production of hydrogen?

      I read an article about using in situ in Africa, they played up the pros of in situ and downplayed the lack of water saying they could use the oceans or polluted water once filtered. They left out how effective a single solar panel would be to resolving the same problems. I consider them FC-centric, it is what they know, it is there passion, but it doesn’t mean it makes sense when looked at from a more distant and objective position.

      The point you make about the decreasing cost to produce electricity is good all the way around. Currently, even at US electric rates an electric car can go the equivalent distance of $7 of gasoline in an ICE vehicle, for just under $2 of electricity in a BEV. And with the decrease in renewable generation costs, I suspect it will drop even further, especially with forthcoming improvements in electric vehicle components.

      Your point about Japan’s travel needs is a good one with respect to gasoline costs. But in the end, the drop in cost for hydrogen generation in situ would also mean that the cost to charge a pure EV would drop. So even the $4 price of H2 with good profit is going to be twice as expensive as a BEV to run. And that’s assuming that they each get the same mileage for their $4 and $2 respectively. I imagine that won’t be the case due to the energy loss from converting H2 back to electricity, but for discussion purposes let’s just say they can go the same distance. I did note your point about FCV traveling 2-3 times further than an ICEV but since I don’t know if it is 2 or 3, and if you are comparing the FCV to say an older ICEV or something like a Toyota Corolla that gets 36 mpg highway, I will simply say, charging a BEV will be cheaper than fueling a FCV for equal distance traveled.

      As for Japanese subsidies, and plans to build H2 stations, Japan is small compared to the US in square miles (4/100). So perhaps Japan can become a hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicle country. But, the amounts of money needed to do that are far greater than doing it with electric charging stations, the vehicles will not be as efficient as pure electric vehicles, and it will cost more per mile to run H2 powered vehicles. And I would suspect that the current planned rollout of first 100 H2 stations will not be in situ, they will be powered by fossil fuels, and I would suspect also that they will remain fossil fuel supplied for the foreseeable future, if not the entire life of the station.

      I would like to point out again, that Chev Volt owners drive battery-mode-only more than 50% of the time. A Chevy Volt can only go about 40 miles on a battery charge, before the on-board generator kicks in. Imagine what the percentage would be for battery-only-mode if the battery pack could get them 80 or 120 miles to a charge.

      Just because you can make something happen by supplying it with large amounts of money doesn’t mean it should happen. There is nothing wrong with subsidizing something if it is the right direction. But as we found out in the US, just because the oil/gas industry was able to bury the battery electric vehicle of the early 1900s, and buy/dismantle the electric trolley systems in major cities, it doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do. Many times profit based corporate decisions fly in the face of what is best for our survival, thinking they can always clean up their mess later, which they of course never do. Just look at the number of Super Fund clean-up sites in America.

      Had oil/gasoline not come about in the early 1900s to power gas vehicles, I suspect we would have spent the last century on improving electric supply, conversion, and electric transportation. Who knows what advancements we could have accomplished if the system did not subsidize the wrong direction and bury research and development efforts jthrough the use of profits and the influence it could buy. And just think of all the lives saved and world unrest that could have been avoided if we didn’t feel the need for the oil found in other lands.

      Hydrogen fuel doesn’t make sense for vehicles because you start out with a fuel say natural gas, or to your point, water. Then you run your source stock through a process that can only be accomplished by special equipment of more than substantial cost to implement/run, and through the use of electricity you create hydrogen fuel. You then store this hydrogen in a vehicle, in an elaborate and expensive setup to then convert the hydrogen into electricity to power an electric vehicle. I swear you can’t make this stuff up!

      There is nothing about hydrogen fuel cells that make sense for a passenger vehicle, when you look to the advancements in batteries that have been made in the last 5 years. Then look to the horizon for new chemistries, anode construction, and introduction of capacitor technologies, and you will find that in very short time battery powered vehicles will be able to recharge in more than an acceptable time while being recharged by electricity generated simply from the sun, tidal/wave, wind without consumption of any resource.

      I believe this unexpected turn toward FCVs is because the naysayers to battery electric vehicles are stunned by the advancements made by Tesla. They didn’t think BEVs would be practical for a very long time so they didn’t mind pretending they were behind them. But now, they have to say, no BEVs are not the right direction, we need to go another way. Tesla’s Elon Musk is a very smart guy, and he doesn’t pursue anything other than a winning strategy whether it be space exploration, or the next big thing in passenger vehicles. So Toyota’s move is beyond bewildering.

      Toyota may move forward on FCVs but it will be at the expense of the Japanese people, and the world. And I am not just picking on Toyota, many others are getting on the same ill-fated FCV Titanic. I single out Toyota because the Prius was a step in the right direction, and they stood their ground doing the right thing. Now they have changed their approach when clearly the Prius line of vehicles has been wildly successful.

      As I said in my earlier post, each technology is a tool, and the right tool for passenger vehicles is battery powered with recharge times of a few minutes. Tesla almost has it, and they are only a 5 year old startup–imagine what Toyota could do if it just applied its name and will, to the same goal.

      FCVs are just a redo of what the oil/gas industry did here in the US to the electric transportation system of the early 1900s. My point is that there are simpler and less expensive solutions that have even greener profiles. To push FCVs and the costs associated with H2 generation plants and vehicles, while being less green and in my opinion less practical makes zero sense. The only thing that can be driving such a ridiculously inefficient, less green, and less practical technological direction for the next era of passenger vehicles is misguided profit motivations.

      Time will tell, it won’t be long, less than 10 years I would imagine, and then we will know whether FCV direction was the right one, or simply a hard sell to keep the motorists of the world dependent on the oil/gas industry, and the service centers of auto dealerships.

      Time will tell!

      • Roger Pham

        Thanks, Gary, for the opinion. Agree with you that BEV is twice as efficient as FCEV. However, the future low cost of RE means that this will not be a major factor in purchasing decision, just like the popularity of gas guzzlers when gasoline was cheap. The people who are afraid of H2, and there are a lot of them, will flock to future advanced long-range BEV’s, thus guarantee future market for BEV’s like Tesla’s. Many will choose FCV’s due to other advantages unique to FCV. Mr. Musk can also make FCV’ as appealing as BEV if he chooses to do so.

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