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Future of Cars: Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Or Electric?

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the place-your-bets dept.

Transportation 659

cartechboy writes: "Back in 2010, Toyota and Tesla teamed up to develop electric cars. That partnership gave us the RAV4 EV electric crossover, but it seems as though that will be the only vehicle we see from that deal. The partnership will soon expire and Toyota has no plans to renew it. Why? Because Toyota believes the future is in hydrogen fuel cell cars, not battery electric vehicles. We knew trouble was brewing when the RAV4 EV failed to set the world on fire when it came to the sales floor. Then Toyota and Honda announced plans to debut hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as early as next year. Add it all together and the writing was on the wall. Is Toyota right? Are hydrogen fuel cell cars the future, or is it missing the mark?"

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Electric. (3, Insightful)

edibobb (113989) | about 3 months ago | (#47001135)

It's much simpler.

Re:Electric. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001173)

Hard to top the energy density in a gallon of gas

Re:Electric. (1)

Ziggitz (2637281) | about 3 months ago | (#47001261)

Unlike those fire proof gasoline powered cars.

Re:Electric. (2)

Ziggitz (2637281) | about 3 months ago | (#47001281)

woops wrong comment.

Re:Electric. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001397)

Easy to top the energy wasted by burning a gallon of gas in a ICE and not even factoring out the pollution effects.

Re:Electric. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001405)

Hard to top the energy density in a gallon of gas

This.

Think about if all this time we were driving cars powered by big heavy expensive batteries. Then one day somebody discovers this awesome substance called gasoline that has so much more energy. You don't even need to recharge bacause it's refillable. Better still, you can just drill a hole and pump this stuff out of the ground!

I want one of these hydrogen fuel cell people to show me where you can sink a well and get hydrogen. Because otherwise, they're missing a big part of the whole equation.

Enjoy that coal burning car!

Re:Electric. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001583)

Pretty much anywhere you can find hydrocarbons.

Re:Electric. (2)

Ultimate Statement (1185123) | about 3 months ago | (#47001467)

Electric! Electric! I have one electric car and I like it like no other car I have had. The problem is that all those mechanical engineers do not do volts and amps so they are struggling to give us something they can do, but it is just a matter of time before there is a breakthrough in battery or power supply technology, like this for ex (300 miles of power) which was just announced: http://powerjapanplus.com/inde... [powerjapanplus.com]

Re:Electric. (5, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#47001537)

Hard to top the energy density in a gallon of gas

You need to multiply the energy density times the efficiency. A gasoline burning ICE has an efficiency of about 15%, an electric motor is over 90%. After that, you will find that the gasoline still wins on range, but loses on cost (excluding the initial cost of the vehicle). Battery technology is improving faster than ICE technology, so is likely to eventually win, as the battery production costs come down and the range goes up.

   

Re:Electric. (5, Insightful)

Zeromous (668365) | about 3 months ago | (#47001205)

Exactly Hydrogen requires wasted resources to create a new fuel cycle (good for capitalists I'm sure). Electricity is agnostic. It is simple (AC motor), and requires less 'special handling' and transport.

Hands down straight up electricity...just that pesky problem of are our batteries good enough yet?

I think so, but apparently Merrica needs 300+ mile range day to day.

Re:Electric. (2)

afidel (530433) | about 3 months ago | (#47001307)

I for one don't need 300 mile range, but I do need ~120 mile rated range because I do 50-54 miles round trip each day and I live in a place that routinely sees temps of -10F so to have enough range to cover my commute after 5+ years of battery degradation plus cold weather I need a pack that starts around 120 miles of rated range.

Re:Electric. (2)

laie_techie (883464) | about 3 months ago | (#47001349)

Exactly Hydrogen requires wasted resources to create a new fuel cycle (good for capitalists I'm sure). Electricity is agnostic. It is simple (AC motor), and requires less 'special handling' and transport.

Hands down straight up electricity...just that pesky problem of are our batteries good enough yet?

I think so, but apparently Merrica needs 300+ mile range day to day.

I don't regularly need 300 mile range. Give me a battery that gets me to work and back, pick up the kids, and a grocery run -- 100 miles should be fine most of the time. The rub is that it takes too long to charge a battery if we want to take a road trip. Currently I can fill my gas tank within 15 minutes and drive for 400 miles. Compare that with hours to charge a battery.

Re:Electric. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001441)

The rub is that it takes too long to charge a battery if we want to take a road trip.

For that, you could drive your spouse's car.

Re:Electric. (2)

Nemosoft Unv. (16776) | about 3 months ago | (#47001481)

I don't regularly need 300 mile range.

Not regularely, no. But once in a while you do, and then you hit the recharge-time hump. There's really no substitute for filling up your tank in a few minutes with liquid fuel (that includes LPG). That's the main problem with adoptation of electric cars at the moment IMO: electric-only cars are too expensive to have as a second car (except for the happy few), and a hybrid is is too complex, too heavy and thus even more expensive.

Re:Electric. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 3 months ago | (#47001431)

No but I do need a 200 mile range.
I drive 70 miles round trip to work every day. And I have a mother in law in bad health that is another 50 miles. I also have family more than 100 miles away that I go and visit.
250 miles would be great for most driving so yes a Tesla would work for me but I can get two really nice VW Passat TDIs for the same price or two Prius for the same price or two Mazda 6 for the same price. The Mazda 6 and Prius both get 40 MPG highway while Consumer reports says the Passat gets 50MPG highway.

Re:Electric. (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 3 months ago | (#47001509)

I'm not really interested until I can get a reliable 300 mile range. This lets me go visit my parents, do some moderate driving while I'm there and still makie it back home on one charge. I could probably get by with the Tesla S 85, but the cost is out of my league. 60k is the top end I can afford for a car and it needs to have the same luxuries as a similarly equipped BMW, Audi, Mercedes, etc.

This means leather, heated seats, high-end audio, GPS, collision detection, cameras, etc pretty much standard at that price point.

Re:Electric. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001477)

Exactly Hydrogen requires wasted resources to create a new fuel cycle (good for capitalists I'm sure). Electricity is agnostic. It is simple (AC motor), and requires less 'special handling' and transport.

Hands down straight up electricity...just that pesky problem of are our batteries good enough yet?

I think so, but apparently Merrica needs 300+ mile range day to day.

Recharge/refill time is important, too. You can refill a gas tank in a couple of minutes.

Re:Electric. (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 3 months ago | (#47001425)

I'd buy one today if I could get one with the entry class luxury of a fully decked out Audi A4 and around the same price point.

hydrogen has been done. (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 3 months ago | (#47001483)

Germans beat us all to it, and called it the Zeppelin.

Infrastructure (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001161)

I think it will come down to which infrastructure is developed first. If Toyota can develop a means to distribute hydrogen before Tesla can figure out how to distribute electricity, then hydrogen will win.

Considering the difficulties Edison has had with DC power, maybe Toyota will win.

Re:Infrastructure (2)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#47001311)

Tesla has a big head start since most homes and businesses have electricity already.

Re:Infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001321)

Tesla has a big head start since most homes and businesses have electricity already.

Guess what those same places have hydrogen already.

Re:Infrastructure (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 3 months ago | (#47001401)

Household gas is mostly methane or propane (for those without pipeline gas), and nowhere near enough pure for use in a fuel cell.

Re:Infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001433)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water

Re:Infrastructure (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#47001491)

So you can either call the plumber to run a water line to the garage and a general contractor to add the necessary vents, so you can install the pricy combination electrolysis cells and high pressure pump and tank (rated for hydrogen) then lose a bunch of energy in the process of splitting the water, or you can use an electric charger. Guess which one is the harder sell?

Re:Infrastructure (1)

Agares (1890982) | about 3 months ago | (#47001337)

Tesla Actually has quite a lot of infrastructure in place already. Not only that, but they are working very hard to build a lot more.

Re:Infrastructure (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 3 months ago | (#47001351)

The question in the title should read " fuel cell or battery" not "fuel cell or electric".

Why don't we wait till we have an even remotely cost and performance effective fuel cell & fuel storage system for this purpose before asking the question.

setting the world on fire (5, Funny)

DaWhilly (2555136) | about 3 months ago | (#47001163)

"We knew trouble was brewing when the RAV4 EV failed to set the world on fire"

I heard that some of the Tesla cars have set the world on fire...

Re:setting the world on fire (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001367)

If you think that's cool, wait until hydrogen-powered cars start doing that. Gasoline fires will have nothing on them.

Re:setting the world on fire (1)

LiquidAvatar (772805) | about 3 months ago | (#47001453)

They don't want to set the world on fire. They just want to start... a flame in your heart!

Re:setting the world on fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001539)

People actually scored this as funny? When did slashdot turn into 4chan?

Diesel (5, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about 3 months ago | (#47001165)

When you travel across the country and you don't know what kind of service station you'lll find along the way, diesel always wins. No alternative fuel even comes close to the reliability and availability of diesel engines, and that's not changing anytime soon.

Re:Diesel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001291)

More and more cities bans it, because of tiny particles it emits. It's been the case in Tokyo since october 2003 for exemple.

Re:Diesel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001339)

Clean diesel tech has matured, and emits fewer particulates than the typical gasoline engine, knee-jerk political stunts notwithstanding.

Re:Diesel (2)

compro01 (777531) | about 3 months ago | (#47001391)

It's been the case in Tokyo since october 2003 for exemple.

Diesels aren't banned. Diesels without particulate filters are banned.

Re:Diesel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001421)

You're citing a study they did before the realize regular gasoline does similar just had no measure to detect.

Re:Diesel (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 3 months ago | (#47001329)

Sure, but how often do you do that? Is it worth having a diesel car all the time just to cover that edge case, or would it be better to have an EV and just hire a diesel once a year when you need to drive to some random place without any changing infrastructure.

Re:Diesel (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 3 months ago | (#47001527)

It might be, if you could hire a diesel that you wanted to drive... if the cost of that was reasonable, and if the infrastructure still existed to support it...

Then you have the issue of the EV costing quite a bit more to buy...

EV's time may come, but it isn't here yet...

Re:Diesel (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about 3 months ago | (#47001529)

With my 110 mile round trip to work I will say an EV is an option but Leaf, not a chance. With ~250 mile range of a Tesla I could live with renting a gas vehicle to drive cross country on the rare occasion I need it... unless they get enough fast chargers. I can live with a 10 minute break every 250 miles. Now if they would just bring the price down to the point where I'm not spending more buying that car than I do on gas.

Not edge case (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 months ago | (#47001585)

Is it worth having a diesel car all the time just to cover that edge case

Great milage and torque are not edge cases.

Re: Diesel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001361)

Which country? Surely not the United States. Or Mexico. I've driven all over those countries, and the only sure thing is gasoline.

Re: Diesel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001501)

Yes, the United States. Clearly you have never driven all over. What do you think trucks run on? Not only 18 wheelers but smaller light and medium duty trucks. And plenty fo cars. I have never had any trouble finding diesel, on the highways and two lane country roads. No problem at all in the cities. When I got my first diesel people told me I would have trouble find a station. Nonsense.

Re: Diesel (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 3 months ago | (#47001563)

Gas it at every filling station, diesel is at most of them, but when traveling on the highways, you'll find it at almost all of them, because big trucks use it.

Re:Diesel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001497)

What country are you in where there are more diesel pumps than electrical outlets?

Re:Diesel (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 3 months ago | (#47001553)

The same one that doesn't put electrical outlets within handy reach of parking spaces, nor are most of them weather proof.

Why not Zoidberg? I mean both. (4, Interesting)

BLToday (1777712) | about 3 months ago | (#47001169)

Why not Zoidberg? I mean both. I can't imagine hydrogen fuel being cheaper than charging at home within the next 20 years. But with hydrogen fuel cell you can have a relatively quick refueling for extended driving. Something like a hydrogen/electric plugin vehicle would be the most appealing to me.

Re:Why not Zoidberg? I mean both. (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 3 months ago | (#47001267)

Why not Zoidberg? I mean both. I can't imagine hydrogen fuel being cheaper than charging at home within the next 20 years. But with hydrogen fuel cell you can have a relatively quick refueling for extended driving. Something like a hydrogen/electric plugin vehicle would be the most appealing to me.

Indeed. I don't know if anyone is even considering this option, but it sounds brilliant to me.

Re:Why not Zoidberg? I mean both. (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 3 months ago | (#47001301)

Re:Why not Zoidberg? I mean both. (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 3 months ago | (#47001489)

Re:Why not Zoidberg? I mean both. (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 3 months ago | (#47001519)

Quote from that page:

In January 2013, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., under the Alliance with Renault, have signed a unique three-way agreement for the joint development of common fuel cell system. The goal of the collaboration is to jointly develop a common FCEV system while reducing investment costs associated with the engineering of the technology, and deriving efficiencies through economies of scale, and will help to launch the world's first affordable, mass-market FCEVs as early as 2017.

Re:Why not Zoidberg? I mean both. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 3 months ago | (#47001273)

It also seems to me like it would be possible to engineer one vehicle with a replaceable identical voltage/amperage battery pack or fuel cell.

Why not both (4, Funny)

Gnaythan1 (214245) | about 3 months ago | (#47001187)

let them in and see which one is preferred. A decade with both hydrogen and pure electric competing ought to make for a hell of a lot of innovation in both sectors.

My bets on Elan Musk. At this point I really just want to throw my money at him and shout "just do something awesome with it."

Re:Why not both (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001445)

A decade with both hydrogen and pure electric competing ought to make for a hell of a lot of innovation in both sectors.

In a decade I'll still be driving my '89 Dodge.

Hydrogen. (5, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 3 months ago | (#47001191)

So many advantages to hydrogen. It automatically increases the fuel tax by leaking, and further by requiring active cooling to keep hydrogen contained. It's expensive to produce and transport, so it doesn't threaten oil companies with lower fuel costs. It's plentiful, so you can use tons of other fuels to separate water into hydrogen.

Re:Hydrogen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001469)

By storing hydrogen in a metal organic framework, the leakiness is decreased and it can be stored at room temperature and is instead heated to release hydrogen. They can also safely store the hydrogen this way as it is adsorbed onto the porous structure. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/300/5622/1127.short

The New Luddite (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 months ago | (#47001545)

So many advantages to hydrogen.

Ha Ha!

Or it would have been, had your idea of hydrogen not been from sometime around the 50s.

Expense of generation has been coming down for a long time. Ease of storage has also been improving steadily.

If Toyota thinks the future of electric cars is hydrogen, you are pretty ballsy to say you disagree with a company dedicated to understanding the future of transport... how can you be so sure they are wrong? Might it not be that your own understanding of the technology around hydrogen is seriously lacking/

Re:Hydrogen. (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 3 months ago | (#47001549)

Actually almost all of the commercially available hydrogen comes from natural gas, not electrolysis.

Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001193)

Fuel cells suffer from a scale problem: there isn't enough known platinum reserves in the world.

Alternatively, a platinum-free fuel cell break-through is needed.

Re:Electric (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 3 months ago | (#47001315)

That's easy. You just have to run it at very high temperatures.

Both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001197)

Why not? Electric motors are far more efficient at energy conversion than a combustion engine driving a torque converter, but the energy density of battery storage may never live up to the expectations of drivers accustomed to that of gasoline. Hydrogen fuel cells driving an electric generator would seem to be a rational compromise, with a far cleaner footprint than current battery technology, assuming that the hydrogen is derived from water, as opposed to current methodologies that break down oil-based hydrocarbons.

Re:Both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001375)

Hydrogen fuel cells driving an electric generator

You have no idea how any of these technologies work, do you?

Re:Both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001499)

Far more than most, but let's hear your specific concerns regarding the OP. You do have specific concerns, right? I mean, you weren't just blowing nonsense out your ass in some impotent trolling attempt, right?

Re:Both? (1)

Agares (1890982) | about 3 months ago | (#47001385)

Tesla's cars actually have a decent range. The only issue is charge time since it can take an hour, when using one of their chargin stations, to get the battery to full when comepletely drained. They are working to get that down to 30 minutes however.

Gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001207)

Some ecologists bets on renewable gas, though methanation. That gas is made out of H2, and can be from sustainable energy (or not).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanation

The main advantage is that both distribution networks and car technologies are already available.

Energy efficiency and infrastructure (1)

xebecv (1027918) | about 3 months ago | (#47001209)

The energy efficienty of fuel cell powered cars is abysmally low in comparison to electric. Infrastructure is almost non-existent and requires major investments. Hydrogen is very leaky and requires very high pressures for storage. There is a decent electric car already mass produced: Tesla Model S. I know that the batteries are pretty expensive, and energy density needs improvement, but for the sake of keeping our planet in better shape, I hope electric beats hydrogen.

Re:Energy efficiency and infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001303)

The energy efficienty of fuel cell powered cars is abysmally low in comparison to electric.

Energy efficiently is irrelevant. The only things that matters is the amount of time it takes to refuel.

Economics (4, Insightful)

cashman73 (855518) | about 3 months ago | (#47001217)

The reason the electric vehicles aren't taking of has a lot to do with price (although there is also a legitimate concern about range between charges). But the price is a major factor, especially in an economy where the middle class (the lion's share of all car purchases) continues to get squeezed every time we look the wrong way. Seriously, let's look at price -- even the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt (plug-in hybrid) are $40,000 vehicles. And electric vehicles go up from there -- up to the Tesla Roadster in the six figure range. The average American doesn't even spent $30,000 on a car, so the price range of these new vehicles is still in the realm of the rich for toys and games. And to be honest, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are going to be priced in that same $40,000 and up range as well, so we won't be seeing those in the mainstream anytime soon. Henry Ford had it right back in the early 20th century. If you want your product to be adopted in the mainstream, you need to pay your workers enough to afford the product to be worth owning. They haven't done that yet, and until they do, we won't be seeing electric of hydrogen fuel cells in mainstream life anytime soon.

Average price of new car = $31,252 (0)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 months ago | (#47001373)

The average American doesn't even spent $30,000 on a car, so the price range of these new vehicles is still in the realm of the rich for toys and games.

The average price of a new car in America is $31,252 [usatoday.com] . A $40,000 vehicle is not remotely out of reach for a large percent of the population.

Re:Average price of new car = $31,252 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001541)

The average American doesn't even spent $30,000 on a car, so the price range of these new vehicles is still in the realm of the rich for toys and games.

The average price of a new car in America is $31,252 [usatoday.com] . A $40,000 vehicle is not remotely out of reach for a large percent of the population.

Who gives a damn what the average cost is when the subject is what's affordable for lower-income people. A $40K car, being above average in cost, is not going to be affordable for someone who only makes enough to get a $20K car.

Maths is hard.

Re:Average price of new car = $31,252 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001567)

What is the median? Averages drift upward. The lower $30K is considered the start of the luxury bracket, it has the top end models of the mass produced sedans and coupes from likes of Ford, Toyota, and Honda.

Re:Average price of new car = $31,252 (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 3 months ago | (#47001569)

The average used car sells for $9-10k [maryland.gov] (Maryland statistics for 2014; the new price matches your numbers). There are twice as many used car sales as new car sales.

Re:Economics (1)

afidel (530433) | about 3 months ago | (#47001417)

The Volt starts at $35k and the next generation (2016 MY) will have a low end offering starting at $30k [reuters.com] which compares favorably with the average new car price of almost $31k last year [autoblog.com]

Re:Economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001461)

The existence of Misubishi's 15K 4-door kind of counters the argument entirely.

Re:Economics (1)

doggo (34827) | about 3 months ago | (#47001475)

Eh... I just saw some Nissan Leafs on sale for $16,000. That's less than I paid for my Cube. And I didn't look at the Leafs 'cause I thought they'd be too expensive.

Re:Economics (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 3 months ago | (#47001581)

Uhm where? 30k plus anywhere I look.

You know is is by the way oil is (1)

Ralph Ostrander (2846785) | about 3 months ago | (#47001227)

pissing all over themselves.

Re:You know is is by the way oil is (1)

Ralph Ostrander (2846785) | about 3 months ago | (#47001243)

I will at that same cell in your car will also run your home electric needs for a week.

Re:You know is is by the way oil is (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47001263)

And shitting all over us.

Combination (1)

sp4ni3l (1417195) | about 3 months ago | (#47001271)

How about a combination? I can fully imagine that for a large part of the population (or for that matter area) an electric car would be absolutely great...... if you are close to the grid. When it comes to storing energy then maybe a pressurised canister of hydrogen will do the trick better if your not close to the grid or have no time to charge for a few hours. I can even imagine that we will see some kind of hybrid a.k.a. hydrogen storage/fuel cell for the "rapid deploy" and then a battery combined with it which can also be charged from the grid. Drive train and technology stays the same, it is only the energy generation (Fuelcell with hydrogen storage or Battery) which changes

storage and transmission (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 3 months ago | (#47001275)

Right now most R&D is going into the generation of electricity. That is all well and good as we need to replace fossil fuels. The issue with the new technologies are two fold; time and space. Sure one could generate most the the electricity needs of the world using solar cells in the Sahara desert. The problem is that it does not help users in South America or when it is night in the Sahara. Storage and transmission become issues neither of which are easy or cheap to solve. Electric cars add to the issue in that when you plug a car in your are effectively adding the electrical equivalent of a small house to the grid. Add millions of cars and the grid could collapse. By using hydrogen fuel cell some of the load can be removed from the grid.

Missing Option (1)

VeritasRoss (1411963) | about 3 months ago | (#47001313)

Flying!

Hydrogen has more potential to be economic (2)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 3 months ago | (#47001335)

Electric in the short run is more economic than hydrogen because the technology is here and developed. One of Hydrogen's problems is the embrittlement of classic construction materials. So exotic materials need to be researched and made. The production of these materials at first will be expensive, but as time goes by, the materials will get cheap. An example of a piece the hydrogen car needs is the gas tank. The gas tank needs to be able to hold pressurized hydrogen in an exotic material, but other than that, it is just a gas tank. Compare this with a battery array. In the long run a gas tank is going to become cheaper than a battery array, but in the short run, electric cars are there already.

Hydrogen is refillable. Hydrogen stations only needs electric and water. People will have them at their own houses. People who want to make a hydrogen refilling station will have a low barrier to entry. There might even be people who get solar arrays to help produce more hydrogen for their gas stations. So hydrogen is poised to be the more economical car in the long run (like 10-20 years if research keeps going).

Electric will always have the advantage of regenerative braking though. So it is possible the future hybrid cars might be Hydrogen + Electric anyway. Unless maybe its possible to make your own hydrogen on the fly with the electricity made from regenerative braking.

Re:Hydrogen has more potential to be economic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001363)

You can do regenerative braking with hydrogen too. When you burn hydrogen you produce water. You can split that water back into hydrogen.

Framing the issue (3, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 months ago | (#47001571)

In the long run a gas tank is going to become cheaper than a battery array, but in the short run, electric cars are there already.

So a hypothetical gas tank is hypothetically cheaper than an existing and very real battery? Curious argument you have there. How about we just plug in a hypothetical Mr. Fusion while we are at it? I frankly disagree with how you are framing the issue given the lack of cited evidence.

Hydrogen is refillable. Hydrogen stations only needs electric and water.

If you already are delivering the electricity, why not just put it into a battery and use it directly? (presuming the battery has sufficient energy density)

Electric will always have the advantage of regenerative braking though.

Electricity has a number of advantages. It is independent of the fuel source. Electricity can come from coal, oil, gas, nuclear, hydro, solar, wind etc. Electricity also is compatible with other types of motors. You can have a gas-electric hybrid, a diesel-electric hybrid, a fuel-cell-electric hybrid, etc. No other energy source can do that. We do not have the technology to use hydrogen directly (requires pressure and/or cooling tech beyond current economic practicality) and there is no near term likely prospect for a practical hydrogen based fuel.

"Hydrogen Economy" is a scam (4, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | about 3 months ago | (#47001343)

The best way to get hydrogen is through a process called "Hydrocarbon Fractionation" or steam reforming. Both of which produce large amounts of CO2 which is a green house gas. Natural gas is often used in the process but you can also use coal (Hello Koch brothers!). And when hydrogen is burned it produces a large amount of H2O vapour which is a greenhouse gas. That is why I call it a scam, it does nothing to improve the global environment or remove the dependence on fossil fuels while adding yet another layer of inefficiency to the energy to transportation process.

Who Killed the Electric Car? (2)

davecotter (1297617) | about 3 months ago | (#47001357)

Did you see the movie? The oil companies and other incumbents want it dead. They bought all the patents they could get their hands on for the components of electric cars but the much of the proverbial cat was already out of the bag. However, they already own just about everything related to hydrogen fuel and it's pipeline. So they're pulling out all the stops to kill the electric car.

If anyone posting here drove one of these cars on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001395)

Test track and seen what they see, The hurdles like the catalyst that they have already overcame you would poop your pants.
long range fast recharge, power your home for a week in 10 years will power every home.

The pace of the future will make the last hundred years seem like a turtle.
trillionaires abound old tech dead on the vine.

Wake up and smell the lead America lost.

Comparison is simple (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 3 months ago | (#47001415)

1) Electric has established delivery infrastructure

2) Electric does not have the PR problem of the Hindenburg.

3) Hydrogen has everything else going for it. It is A) lighter, b) short refueling time, c) does not have recycling issues, d) does not have charge/discharge cycle limit d) zero energy loss from temperature (cold batteries lose energy). Hydrogen is the objectively better system if we were designing from scratch. But the infrastructure advantage that electric battery cars have is huge - the hybrid cars just made that worse.

You missed a few drawbacks to hydrogen (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 3 months ago | (#47001577)

1) As it's under pressure, requires a bulky tank for storage, partly negating the "lighter" advantage
2) It's very difficult to store and transport. [wikipedia.org]

Author of TFA is an idiot (4, Insightful)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 3 months ago | (#47001435)

Yes, they're[plug ins] cleaner than hybrids, but they still depend on electricity ...produced by dirty fossil fuels... hydrogen fuel cells are, for now, the greenest of many options,

Hydrogen has to be cracked from complex molecules using...wait for it...electricity, so no, fuel cells aren't any greener than plug-ins. I suppose one could argue about whether the manufacture of fuel cells causes less pollution than that of batteries, but I expect it's pretty much a wash. I think the economy and convenience of recharging at home trumps hydrogen's greater range and shorter refueling time, and eventually battery technology will narrow those gaps.

The first one I can get for $15,000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001437)

I make six figures but I've never, and will never spend more than that on a fucking car. Actually, I've never spent 5-digits on a car. Currently driving a '01 Toyota Camry and just did a 1600mi round-trip (that I make once every month or so). Did just fine.

RAV4 EV a casualty of marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001451)

I'm a RAV4 EV owner. It's a remarkably good car - all the roomy practicality of a RAV4, but with a fast, efficient Tesla battery pack and motor. Because it uses a tweaked Model S drivetrain and a decent battery pack, it has better performance and range than any of the non-Tesla electric cars - it may not look like a Model S, but it's quick and smooth like one. Best of all, it's much, much cheaper than a Model S - after tax credits and incentives, ours cost only a few thousand more than an inexpensive, gas-burning RAV4 (and, of course, the EV costs much less to maintain and operate).

So why didn't the RAV4 EV catch on?
    * It's only sold in California
    * It's only sold in a limited number of dealerships *within* California
    * Toyota expects you to get the car serviced at one of the handful of EV dealers. No service in remote areas or out of state.
    * Toyota doesn't (or can't) advertise that the RAV4 EV has a Tesla drivetrain and is a sibling of the Model S.
    * Toyota barely advertised the RAV4 EV at all, in fact
    * Toyota never advertised any incentives. The RAV4 EV was often available for much less than its MSRP, but if you went to research it, the first thing you saw was that awful $50k MSRP, and very few people would want to spend $50k on a RAV4, even if it's a Tesla inside.
    * Toyota continually changed the incentives month to month. One month there were no incentives at all, the next it was $10k off with 0% financing. Then it was a great lease deal, but no purchase discount at all.

In short, unless you lived in California, were shopping for EVs or reading about EVs, and were willing to hunt down a dealer and the best incentive, chances are you wouldn't have even heard of the RAV4 EV. Even then, the Toyota dealers were often poorly informed about the car, keeping low stock and with many of the salespeople not having any training in it.

The RAV4 EV's low sales has nothing to do about whether it's electric or hydrogen. Toyota clearly offered the RAV4 EV due to a combination of needing to fulfill its California Air Resource Board requirements and the terms of its sale of the former Toyota/NUMMI plant in Fremont to Tesla. They were deliberately doing the minimum possible to sell only the required number of them.

It's clear that Toyota has bought into hydrogen, but everything folks say about hydrogen distribution being problematic is true. There's plenty of electric power distributed through the United States - and you can even charge the RAV4 EV from a wall outlet - but there's only a handful of places to fill up with hydrogen, and it's unlikely that will radically change soon. In addition, while electric power is often generated in renewable, clean ways today (electric cars will run off of solar, and many EV owners have PV arrays), generating hydrogen is currently a power-intense process that is less efficient and green.

Toyota made a shockingly good car with Tesla, and it's sad that they dumped it. I hope they see the error of their ways after the whole hydrogen thing doesn't pan out.

Batteries? BAH. (1)

TheRealSteveDallas (2505582) | about 3 months ago | (#47001505)

What we really need is some seriously big, efficient capacitors.

Neither? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001521)

Where's the option for neither? New and shiny doesn't equal superior value.

Hydrogen requires rebuilding infrastructure for a new fuel that behaves differently than gas and is more of a pain to store.

Electric has the problem of needing expensive batteries to give you useful range - those make the vehicles far more expensive than equivalent ICE vehicles when total ownership costs are considered.

Electrons vs. H atoms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47001533)

I'd think there are more electrons in the universe so I might go with electricity, but what about the force holding the Hydrogen atoms together? Is it easy and inexpensive to extract electrons vs. extracting hydrogen atoms from the universe?

Toyota is spot on (1)

Chris Collins (3536577) | about 3 months ago | (#47001559)

I believe they are correct

They made a decision that's easier for them. (2, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | about 3 months ago | (#47001587)

Toyota made a decision that works within their existing car infrastructure. Think about it. The car will still have a fuel tank, and will still run an internal combustion engine.

There will be no "range anxiety" and you won't have to worry about replacing the entire battery pack after 3000 charge cycles.

They are going to have to start forcing gas stations to carry hydrogen as well, the way some places carry diesel and kerosene, but that's not *their* problem, is it?

The advantage to hydrogen is that they can still continue to make cars "as is" -- hell, they can even make hybrids too, a Hydrogen Electric Prius is sure to be in the future, without changing much about their existing factories.

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