The future of automobiles is either electric or hydrogen powered cars. Or both. Volkswagen is working overtime on its line up of hybrid, plug in hybrid and electric vehicles but is keeping an eye on fuel cell technology. Just in case.
As proof that it intends to be ready for whatever the market demands in the future, Volkswagen brought a SportWagen and a Passat sedan powered by its HyMotion fuel cell system to the Los Angeles Auto Show last month. Both use the electric motor found in the eGolf rated at 134 hp
An on board lithium ion battery is kept charged by the fuel cell and by regenerative braking. Hydrogen is stored at 10,150 psi in 4 carbon fiber tanks mounted underneath. The Volkswagen HyMotion cars accelerate to 60 mph in under 10 seconds and have a range of more than 300 miles. Refueling takes just 3 minutes, according to the company.
Volkswagen has a fleet of HyMotion prototypes in operation around the country to test its fuel cell system but has no plans to market the cars until there is an adequate hydrogen infrastructure in place. “Before the market launch, a hydrogen infrastructure would have to be created: not only a broad network of hydrogen fuel stations, but also the production of the hydrogen itself.”
That’s the thing with fuel cell vehicles. There are only a handful of refueling stations in existence and most of those are in Southern California. Companies like Toyota and Hyundai want the government to pay for the hydrogen infrastructure but the federal and state governments are reluctant to do so. Meanwhile, Elon Musk and other electric vehicles advocates are pushing ahead with plans to dot the countryside with recharging stations. We won’t know for a decade or more who will win the struggle between EVs and FCEVs. In 2024, will hydrogen cars still be in “the future”? Either way, Volkswagen will be ready.