Today nearly all of the talk is about hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles.
But where are the fuel cell-powered vehicles that gained so much attention a few years ago? Closer to production than you might think--although in very small numbers.
"We will come to the market in 2015," says Bill Reinert, national manager of advanced vehicles at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
That time frame "is not just us," Reinert adds. "You will hear that from General Motors, Daimler-Benz and some other people."
Automakers are going ahead despite the lack of a hydrogen refueling infrastructure--the long-standing obstacle to fuel cell growth. They hope that by 2015, refueling stops will begin to sprout up around the country.
And automakers are trying to find ways to stimulate the hydrogen network.
For instance, GM is partnering in Hawaii with The Gas Co. The utility plans to tap into its 1,000-mile utility pipeline system, separate the hydrogen from the synthetic natural gas and sell the hydrogen to refueling stations in Hawaii. The cost to add hydrogen fueling equipment is expected to be $300,000 to $500,000 per pump
Despite the formidable challenges, automakers favor the fuel cell because there is a huge twofold benefit: no need for petroleum and no emissions from the tailpipe. A fuel cell uses hydrogen to generate electricity through a chemical reaction and emits only water vapor through the tailpipe. Hydrogen is plentiful and can be derived from natural gas, methanol and even water.
The push for fuel cells also is fueled by the realization by automakers that hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-powered vehicles collectively will be unable to meet stiffer CO2 regulations later this decade. … Read more