We've seen many hydrogen fuel cell cars at CNET Car Tech and driven many of them as well. Every major automaker has one in the works, and they are the best candidate for replacing gasoline engine cars. Fuel cells generate electricity cleanly, with only water and heat as emissions.
Many of the cars shown here are being tested in government and private fleets, getting everyday use on public roads.
Ford's newest fuel cell research vehicle uses the Explorer SUV platform. It has two 65 kilowatt motors powering all four wheels. Although the vehicle pictured has 5,000psi tanks, it's slated to get 10,000psi tanks storing 10 kilograms of hydrogen, which will give it a range of 350 miles.
Chevrolet launched the Equinox Fuel Cell car as a public test vehicle. The company is making 100 of them to lease out to public entities, such as government and educational groups. The Equinox Fuel Cell stores 4.2 kilograms of hydrogen, giving it a range of 200 miles.
The Chevrolet Sequel is the most recent model in a line of fuel cell test cars from GM that includes the AUTOnomy and Hy-wire. The Sequel uses three motors, giving it a top speed of 90mph. With 8 kilograms of hydrogen in its 10,000psi tanks, it can go 300 miles.
This is the second generation of the Honda FCX and a radical upgrade over its FCX predecessor, which looked ungainly. Both are purpose-built cars, with no gasoline version. The FCX uses one 95 kilowatt motor to drive the wheels. It goes 270 miles on its 4 kilogram, 5,000psi hydrogen tank.
This is Hyundai's first generation fuel cell vehicle and has recently been supplanted by the Hyundai Tucson FCEV, which has been put into fleet testing. Hyundai measures its hydrogen tank capacity in liters. The Santa Fe FCEV had 72 liters of hydrogen storage, while the newer Tucson FCEV's tanks hold 152 liters, giving it a range of 186 miles.
This is the second generation of the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell. The first was based on the Mercedes-Benz A-class, while this new one is based on the B-class. The car uses a 100 kilowatt motor and has a range of 250 miles.
The Nissan X-Trail FCV is a first generation fuel cell vehicle that has been used in fleets for public testing. It has an 85 kilowatt motor driving the front wheels and a range of slightly more than 200 miles.
Toyota's fuel cell research vehicle is based on the Highlander platform. It has an 80 kilowatt motor and, being a first generation vehicle, 5,000psi hydrogen tanks. Its range is between 150 and 200 miles.
Mazda takes a different tack with its hydrogen car, retaining the internal combustion engine but powering it from hydrogen. Just like gasoline, hydrogen can be pumped into the engine and ignited with a spark, causing compression. Burning hydrogen, the engine produces 107 horsepower. Its 110 liter tanks give the car a 62-mile range.
Similar to the Mazda research car, BMW takes a standard production car, in this case a 7-series, and modifies the engine to burn hydrogen. The Hydrogen7 uses liquid hydrogen stored at minus 250 degrees Celsius. It can go 125 miles on its 17.6 pounds of hydrogen.