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Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the it's-a-bit-easier-being-green dept.

Transportation 156

An anonymous reader writes "Toyota is on track to launch the first consumer fuel-cell car in Japan next year, and the country's Prime Minister says the government wants to assist the new alternative to gas-driven vehicles. Shinzo Abe announced that Japan will offer subsidies of almost $20,000 for fuel cell cars, which will decrease the Toyota model's cost by about 28%. He said, "This is the car of a new era because it doesn't emit any carbon dioxide and it's environmentally friendly. The government needs to support this. Honda is also planning to release a fuel-cell car next year, but experts expect widespread adoption to take decades, since hydrogen fuel station infrastructure is still in its infancy."

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Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (2, Interesting)

kheldan (1460303) | about 2 months ago | (#47489485)

You want people to adopt electric cars and hybrids in greater numbers sooner? You want to wean the general populace off of fossil fuels? This is how you do it! Of all the complete wastes of money the U.S. government commits, this comparatively speaking would be a drop in the bucket and of great long-term benefit to the entire country. While we're at it how about they sink some money into electric vehicle support infrastructure like rapid charging stations, too?

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (4, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 months ago | (#47489605)

no, this is not how you do it, wasting my tax dollars on 28 percent overpriced uneconomical $70k luxury vehicle that has payback period in over a decade...

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 2 months ago | (#47489817)

You mean like they did for SUVs/Trucks in 1997 with the $25,000 tax break for small businesses buying a vehicle over 6,000lbs? Which if that wasn't bad enough they extended to $100,000 in 2003?

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47489885)

citation needed. link or it didn't happen.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 months ago | (#47489977)

The question was whether an SUV should be treated as a truck or a car under Section 179, just a different way to calculate depreciation [cpapracticeadvisor.com] .

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (2)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 2 months ago | (#47490101)

http://law.lclark.edu/live/fil... [lclark.edu] a detailed paper on the matter if you'd prefer. Note to those who think this might be a "democrat vs republican" thing - Clinton enacted the deduction, Bush extended it, something they could all agree on.

http://www.skeptically.org/oil... [skeptically.org] for another summary of it, though horribly biased in its language.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47490517)

ty. a very interesting point, something I hadn't known about. The law review article has a relevant example. It gave the scenario of "Tom", a self-employed realtor who was choosing between a $50k Mercedes sedan and $50k mercedes ultra-suv. The loophole provided a $13k incentive for him to choose the SUV. However, your original quote of $25k is misleading, because Tom would also get a tax deduction (albeit a smaller one) for the mercedes sedan.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (2)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 2 months ago | (#47490729)

It's not misleading, my point wasn't that SUVs got a bigger tax break than cars, it was that the US government uses your tax dollars to subsidize auto purchases. There have been smaller ones for plugin vehicles and hybrids as well.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 2 months ago | (#47490429)

If no one provides a link to a story about the Big Bang, does that mean the Universe doesn't exist?
In this universe, we have search engines. Perhaps you might have inadvertently used one but I see you've recovered nicely from that misstep.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 2 months ago | (#47490499)

citation needed. link or it didn't happen.

Ask ,and ye shall recieve citizen

http://www.selfemployedweb.com... [selfemployedweb.com]

Questions?

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (2)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47490527)

thanks. i read one of the other links provided and it was very informative. have a good day.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 months ago | (#47490887)

that stinks too, should not have happened. your point?

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 2 months ago | (#47491093)

That it happens all the time - it's just the way governments do business without actually changing the standard tax rate which is a lot more problematic politically.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#47490815)

Japan understands that the future is with new types of engine - hybrid, electric, fuel cell, something else. If Japan is to stay the world leader it has to develop these technologies, get the patents, get the knowledge and expertise, get the market before anyone else even comes in to it. They already pretty much own the hybrid market, for example, and most the non-Japanese hybrid system are based on licensed Japanese technology anyway.

The American car industry is dying. Japanese manufacturers are already winning in the US market. It's because they invest in R&D, pump money into things that can take decades to pay off. Their government understands that and helps out, so that Japan has a strong domestic car industry. In the US you just bail out car companies when they fail, doing little to actually help them succeed. The exception was with EVs, and it paid of spectacularly with Tesla. You should be doing more of that.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 months ago | (#47490881)

yes, Japanese and Korean internal combustion powered cars are HUGE in the US market. That has nothing to do with the miniscule amount of electric cars in the USA, of course.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (2, Insightful)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 2 months ago | (#47489625)

Why not? Because if you hand out $20,000 to buy a car, you just increase the price of every car by $20,000. It is basic economics. We can see the same effect in housing prices, health care, and college tuition.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | about 2 months ago | (#47489793)

But they're not doing it for all cars, just *specific* cars. When there's a $1 off coupon on Coke products available, does Pepsi suddenly cost $1 more? No, but Pepsi now has to try harder to match.

Similarly, all this does is knock $20k off the price of the fuel efficient car, making the $20k Gas Guzzlers and $45k alternate fuel cars closer in price.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47490087)

Coke will sell their soda for +1, if they are smart. For a new product, it is not even noticeable.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 2 months ago | (#47490223)

An excellent point. But what do you think the business will do when someone else is handing out money to buy their new product? At the very least, any incentive they have to control costs or reduce prices just went out the window. The Coke analogy isn't quite right since that price is long established by market competition, and coupons are typically backed by the manufacturer or the reseller, i.e. someone in the sales chain, as opposed to some third party whose only involvement is handing out money. In other words, the coupon is in business terms indistinguishable from a price cut. Whereas the $20k handout is simply more profit to be made from customers who would have bought it for $50k but can now 'afford' to pay $70k

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 2 months ago | (#47490247)

Or if you like, Coke v. Pepsi is not a good analogy because those products are substitutes for each other. A hydrogen fuel cell car is not a substitute for a gas car, people will not simply switch from one to the other due to price concerns. There are a lot of other factors, such as availability of fueling stations, proximity to qualified service providers, and so on. So the people who will buy the fuel cell car are going to buy one regardless. all this handout will do is add the $20k to the price for the manufacturer to profit. Now if the supporting infrastructure for both types of cars were identical, the analogy might be more apt. But in that case there would be no supposed need for the handout would there? Perhaps the money might be better spent building out fuel stations instead of just effectively handing it out to a politically favored car manufacturer.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 months ago | (#47489905)

This is not basic economics but a brain dead attitude!
Why should the price for my Mercedes change if the government is subsidizing a random car? The random car is not a competitor to my Mercedes, the BMW and the Porsche next corner are!

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (2)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 months ago | (#47489957)

Why not? Because if you hand out $20,000 to buy a car, you just increase the price of every car by $20,000. It is basic economics.

OK... would it please you if they implement their subsidy by creating a $10,000 tax on the purchase or transfer of any vehicle; used or new? Then waive that tax for buyers of a new or used certified hydrogen-only vehicle and pay the manufacturer $10,000 directly, for each one sold.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about 2 months ago | (#47490133)

no.

how it SHOULD work is simple

car company builds car

car buyer buys car

end of discussion, the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, I was against the hybrid tax subsidies just as well its not fair to the rest of us who are stuck driving older cars to assist in your payment of your new toy

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 months ago | (#47490149)

end of discussion, the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers

The problem is the government is already unfairly picking winners and already subsidizing fossil fuel vehicles by failing to require that manufacturers and operators of fossil fuel vehicles pay for the pollution they generate in order to internalize the externalities.

The fact is.... new development is always expensive. And, economics doesn't favor improvement of society, when the actors are not required to pay for the damage they are causing and the point of the new technology requiring major investments in development and infrastructure is to mitigate such damage.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47490165)

I see a definite correlation between low slashdot id number and smarts in you.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 2 months ago | (#47490195)

just because they do something wrong means they should do more wrong?? no, just no

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 months ago | (#47490403)

just because they do something wrong means they should do more wrong?? no, just no

Except it's not something "more wrong"; it is just something you seem to disagree that they should do. A number of consumers might have already made an investment to purchase a fossil fuel vehicle, and therefore, have a conflict of interest in regards to this matter which disqualifies them from making a fair judgement about the cost to society as a whole and the public of allowing citizens to operate such equipment.

I am essentially neutral on the matter whether they attempt to correct the problem by subsidizing manufacturesr of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles OR make owners of fossil fuel vehicles and manufacturers start paying for the share of emissions release caused by their activities (manufacturer tax for emissions during manufacturing, operator tax for expected emissions based on emission estimation formulae taking into account number of power-on hours total miles driven, and average mileage, to attempt to calculate quantity of fuel burned).

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 2 months ago | (#47490477)

i just dont want the government taxing taxes from one group of people to pay for the toys of others. simple as that. that goes for these cars and anything else that gets subsided which is not needed for living.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47491163)

Your tax money through bailouts and subsidies goes directly into 80 some year old pervert's country club membership to get his dick sucked by an 18 yr old teenage mother who needs money and does not like busting her ass getting dead tired on some 3rd shift factory production line for minimum wage.. that's life, that's the world we live in, just get over it. The gov't takes it from one guy and gives it to another, and not all another's are military people, but a whole lot of them are private business owners. We're living in the age of pork barrel politics and welfare for corporations, and it gets complicated, because it is often correct to bail out companies, and if you are not willing to do pork barrel politics, you don't exist as a politician cuz you would not have ended up in the post you're in in the first place.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 2 months ago | (#47490239)

end of discussion, the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers

I think the government has a legitimate national security interest in developing a transportation system that does not completely grind to a halt the day someone sets off a few nukes in the major oil-producing areas of the world.

Hybrid and electric technology is what could make the difference between an event like that being a serious problem and it being a complete disaster.

There's also the small issue of global warming; I think the government also has a legitimate interest in keeping Miami above water and crops growing in California.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 2 months ago | (#47490395)

as long as we are still using (insert power of choice) it doesnt matter, a few nukes on oil fields, a few nukes on the hydro dams, a few nukes in the coal plants, hell a few nukes on a nuke plant. Unless one has self sustaining power (off grid) transportation is still tied to the grid.

as for the cars and global warming thing, cars contribute somewhere between 1% and 5% of bad greenhouse gasses, planes big rigs, chem plants etc produce the other 95-99%, doing anything with regard to global warming in regards to passenger cars is like trying to stop the fukushima disaster from happening by using gum to block the damage in the reactor cover,its not even going to put a dent into the issue.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 months ago | (#47490485)

as for the cars and global warming thing, cars contribute somewhere between 1% and 5% of bad greenhouse gasses

Greenhouse gas release is not the only negative effect of vehicle emissions. They also release materials such as CO1 and Nitrogen-based compounds with negative health effects on the local environment and human populations, they cause smog and other issues.

Chemical plants are not mobile like Vehicles are. Emissions by chemical plants are at a fixed location and in the future can be regulated or mitigated much more effectively as a result.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489997)

Competition would prevent that and market collusion which leads to price fixing is illegal in the US.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

knightghost (861069) | about 2 months ago | (#47490131)

More or less. What the environmental religion fails to understand is that regardless if you spend more for a "green" product, somewhere down the supply chain it's always going to end up fueling some truck that gets 4 MPG.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489627)

You want people to adopt electric cars and hybrids in greater numbers sooner?

Speak for yourself brother. Just because 'you' think everyone in America should drive an electric car, doesn't mean everyone thinks the same way. I can think of about a thousand better ways for the gov't to spend our tax money than subsidizing these toys. Let's keep this ridiculous idea in Japan.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (3, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 months ago | (#47489639)

The US is already doing this. There are plenty of tax credits and other subsidies for hybrid vehicles, ethanol, etc.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489659)

what the PM really meant to say is listen guys we import 100% of our oil and our country has a ton of people in a small area

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 months ago | (#47489849)

Maybe, but I have to believe the real motivation is to capture world market share.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 months ago | (#47489987)

You mean market share in Japan, as it seems unlikely the gov't will give this subsidy to buyers outside of Japan.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47490067)

The effect is the same. Subsidizing the manufacture/sale of these cars in Japan allows Toyota to dump them in foreign markets.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47489677)

This is how you do it!

No, this is NOT how you do it. It makes sense for the government to promote and subsidize scientific research and technological development. But it does NOT make sense for governments to subsidize manufacturing. If something cannot be sold at a fair market price, then the answer is not taxpayer funded subsidies, but more R&D to develop something that actually makes sense. These subsidies usually get twisted in corporate welfare entitlements, and then can often be used to stifle progress rather then promoting it. Examples: Ethanol subsidies, and solar subsidies that have morphed into protective tariffs that raise the cost of alternative energy in order to protect inefficient producers with political connections.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (2)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 2 months ago | (#47489767)

Exactly. Handouts at the consumer end are the best way to waste a bunch of money. Not only is it inherently unfair, as a large number of taxpayers are not in a position to take advantage of the handout, but it also completely distorts the consumer market, where products that otherwise have no chance are sold only as long as the handouts are in place. Then, when the inevitable cutbacks happen, the market is up-ended because it was never balanced based on actual consumer need.

Much of this can be avoided as you said by reinforcing the development end rather than the purchasing end. But, people love handouts, and there are plenty of politicians willing to hand out, after all, its only taxpayer money....who cares if it is used to buy something completely overvalued to the user?

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (2)

CaptnZilog (33073) | about 2 months ago | (#47489807)

If they really wanted to help things, they'd invest the money in more charging stations (here in the US) for EVs (and push for a standard, like Tesla releasing their patents for their advanced charging system). People aren't going to spend money (or not a lot of people) on vehicles they can't actually charge very many places. Until a more country-wide infrastructure is in place, *most* people are going to stick with vehicles they can actually "fuel up" anywhere.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about 2 months ago | (#47489881)

Fund R&D projects? Yes. But there will not BE cheap electric or hybrids until enough of them are sold every year to bring the manufacturing costs down enough to bring the price down enough that they are competitive, price-wise, with internal combustion vehicles. Also, face the reality: We don't have that much oil left, and we NEED to start weaning off it NOW, rather than later when it's a crisis situation. I'm not saying we should have permanent government incentives to consumers to buy electric vehicles, just long enough to kick-start the process of getting more people to buy them. Enough people buy them and have them, the more people will start thinking they need to buy them too, and so on, until it's the norm instead of just the exception. The more electric vehicles on the road, the more incentive there will be to build infrastructure to charge them, the easier it'll be to own one, the more incentive people will have to BUY one, and so on.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 months ago | (#47490261)

We have plenty of oil left. What we don't have is very much cheap oil. That interesting point at least allows the concept of market driven forces. Once oil is too expensive, then there will be more of a reason to switch. To be completely fair (which will never happen) we do need to cut back on the subsidies we give the fossil fuel industry. Adding differing subsidies to the mix isn't such a bright idea, but it is politically expedient.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47490685)

... bring the manufacturing costs down enough to bring the price down enough that they are competitive

Per unit subsidies are the WRONG way to do this. Much better is for the government to subsidize R&D into better manufacturing techniques. Look at windmills. They were subsidized for years. Now they are mostly cost competitive, so the subsidies worked, right? WRONG! The modern cost effective windmills are completely different (and much bigger) than the windmills that were subsidized, and are mostly made by different companies. So the subsidies were mostly wasted backing the wrong horse, and making it harder for the eventual winners to emerge.

I'm not saying we should have permanent government incentives to consumers to buy electric vehicles

Yes you are, whether that is your intention or not. Subsidies lead to uncompetitive companies, sheltered from the market, with inferior products. Once the subsidies start, they soon become entitlements, with blocks of voters and buckets of campaign donations to sustain them.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 months ago | (#47489915)

I wished /. had a feature to filter out comments of people you have marked as an enemy ...

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47490033)

I wished /. had a feature to filter out comments of people you have marked as an enemy ...

Just go to https://slashdot.org/users.pl?op=editcomm [slashdot.org] and add a negative score modifier to push your foes below your viewing threshold. But, according to my "friend/foe" page, you don't have me listed as an enemy, so you need to do that first.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#47490853)

So remind me, what are the most popular car brands in the US? Toyota and Honda, companies that are willing to invest vast amounts of money in new technology and get support from their government? Seems to be working pretty well for them.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (2)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47489703)

This is how you do it except the car does not have to be 60 grand in cost, and most importantly hydrogen as fuel, liquid or compressed, is bullshit, you need something to carry it on a molecular scale, as a hydride compound. The simplest of these that is carbon free, i.e. nonhydrocarbon, is ammonia, or nitrogen trihydride, but there is also toxic hydrazine, or dinitrogen tetrahydride, and even the magnesium-titanium metal hydrides might stand a chance, or borohydrides like lithium borohydride (which is above in energy density in volume and mass to gasoline, the top chemical material(everything else higher in mass energy density is lower in volume energy density, or vice versa, gasoline has that magic balance, plus all gaseous effluents, unlike borohydrides, that have solid or solution effluents, but recyclable.)) Liquid ammonia stores at room temperature under mild pressure, compared to liquid hydrogen requiring constant venting, or constant cryogenic refrigeration, which is very retarded and senseless to do. Or huge compression containers (or cryogenic refrigerator malfunction or boil off hole plugging accident) ready for a classic steam boiler explosion scenario. Hydrogen stored by itself is not safe nor economical. It has to be combined with something, and if you don't like carbon, there is nitrogen (awesome), metals (maybe), boron (big maybe, and then even silicon or aluminum instead of boron might be better.)

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489765)

Boron hydrides are truly awful stuff to work with. They make hydrazine look like a toy. Ammonia's not bad, though.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47490147)

Yeah, ammonia is not that bad. It's used in the liquid form and injected directly into the ground as fertilizer, by farmers from a tractor with a syringe. If they can stand the smell and not die from the toxic effects of releasing it directly into the soil, the general population should be able to handle leak tight cars with smoke alarm detectors, and even without detectors, the odor threshold of 5 ppm is safe, well under the 50 ppm 8-hr TWA OSHA PEL.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 2 months ago | (#47489863)

This is how you do it except the car does not have to be 60 grand in cost,

Then you proceeded to list of bunch of undeveloped and presently high cost approaches.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489773)

Um, there already are incentives for buying EVs. Where have you been?
 
Aside from that, see how much Japan spends on their defense.... then look to see how much the US spends on Japan's defense. You'll start getting your answers in short order. The US has been footing the bill for a lot of defense of friendly nations for decades after the last threat the were under has been eliminated. We paid to rebuild Japan over 60 years ago and we've been paying to defend their shores ever since.
 
Oh, and look into how many UN actions are run with American dollars.
 
And how many people who have fallen off of unemployment compensation who are now collecting other benefits... but hey, at least they're not on the unemployment dole, right? That makes the numbers look good but less people are pulling the US economic cart and the burden of that cart increases daily.
 
The US is bleeding money into just about everything but their own infrastructure.

Re: Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489845)

Genius, Japan pays a fuckton of money to the us for its military services, in addition to offering numerous bases for the US to use.

Re: Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47490271)

Really? You're a fucking retard [dailymail.co.uk] .
 
In a singular effort we're going to pay 8.6 billion to move troops from Japan as Japan ponies up 3.1 billion. Yeah, Japan is really paying its share.
 
Retarded fucking loon.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 2 months ago | (#47490177)

japan was not allowed to have a military after WW2, im not sure what the status is now but that is the reason we protect them, or did in the past at least

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (4, Insightful)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | about 2 months ago | (#47489827)

I worked on fuel cell vehicles for seven years, but quit because I realized there will never be a future in it.

There are lots of reasons, but the main argument is this: It takes about four times as much electricity to power a fuel cell car as a battery-electric car. (Fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity at about 50 % efficiency, and making hydrogen from electrolysis has about 50 % efficency, not counting losses in compressing the hydrogen and when tranferring the compressed gas to the car. Batteries can have 95 % efficiency both in charging and discharging.)

You could make hydrogen from natural gas, of course, but the "no fossil fuels" argument goes away, and efficiency is still no advantage over a combustion engine that runs on natural gas directly.

The only advantage a fuel cell vehicle has over a battery-powered one is range, but range is less of an issue whith batteries, because chargers could be everywhere, unlike hydrogen tank stations that have lots of safety issues.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47489939)

are you five? Have you ever even driven a car or owned one? You seem hot have no clue about weighing pros and cons or understanding the challenges new tech must overcome.

who can I tell? You lead with the main argument - EV cars are more efficient in terms of total energy per mile. You know what? nobody gives a crap! the three important things for hydrogen stations are cost per mile, fuel source, and GHGs. nobody cares about mathematical efficiencies.

you know what people do care about? range and convenience time. you know what's not convenient? recharging for four hours every 20 mins!

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (2)

cerberusti (239266) | about 2 months ago | (#47490151)

The most important thing for hydrogen as a car fuel is that it is impractically dangerous. Sure you can bind it to something else to mitigate that... but then we are talking about something like gasoline anyway (or your hydrocarbon of choice, but substituting other atoms for carbon tends to make it toxic.)

The safety issues with liquefied dihydrogen are so insanely bad that anybody seriously proposing it knows this cannot possibly work, or has very little chemical and engineering knowledge. The basic properties of this substance make it entirely unsuitable as a common fuel.

The suggestion that hydrogen will be useful as a fuel source on a moving vehicle would be hilarious if it was not suggested in all sincerity by individuals with the power to make laws.

The reality is that we are going to simply burn the methane (natural gas) as that is where we would be sourcing the hydrogen anyway, and it is much safer to transport.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47490469)

i don't see the difference in safety between a hydrogen car and a cng car. Elaborate?

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 2 months ago | (#47490665)

CNG can be stored easily in standard pressure tanks. The carbon atoms in the molecules grant these gases the property of having van der Waals forces which allow them to form liquids at relatively low pressures.

Hydrogen molecules are tiny. They slip into the crystal structure of metals and render them brittle. They slip through the gaps in seals. And making hydrogen into a liquid requires extreme pressures and temperatures.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47490867)

h2 is stored at 350 bar or 700 bar. a bit higher than cng at 260 bar (3600psi), but you just spec the tanks appropriately and inspect/replace them appropriately. Any small slow leaks go harmlessly into the air, jut need to watch where you park them. it seems fine to me, you just need precautions. like how you're not supposed to smoke at gas stations.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | about 2 months ago | (#47490189)

are you five?

As I wrote in the first sentence of the post you are replying to, I worked for seven years in research and development on fuel cell vehicles. You do the math.

Have you ever even driven a car or owned one?

I've driven a fair number of different vehicles, including prototype fuel cell cars.

You seem hot have no clue about weighing pros and cons or understanding the challenges new tech must overcome.

Unlike you?

You know what? nobody gives a crap! the three important things for hydrogen stations are cost per mile, fuel source, and GHGs. nobody cares about mathematical efficiencies.

Efficiency is the most important factor in determining cost per mile. A car that requires four times as much electricity will have approximately four times the cost per mile. It will also cause four times the green-house gas emissions, assuming that the source of the electricity is the same.

(Protip: If you want to be taken seriously in any kind of scientific argument - Don't say that "nobody cares about mathematical ..." Scientists do care about math.)

you know what people do care about? range and convenience time. you know what's not convenient? recharging for four hours every 20 mins!

Four hours charging for every 20 minutes of driving was over twenty years ago. Today, most electric cars have a range that exceeds what their owners drive on an average day. This means the owner spends 10 seconds per day (one minute per week, assuming that he has Sundays off) plugging in the car when he gets home. The average non-electric car owner spends much more time than that filling up his car. A fuel cell car owner would spend even more time, because hydrogen cannot be transferred as quickly from one tank to another as liquids can.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (0)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47490467)

Efficiency is the most important factor in determining cost per mile. A car that requires four times as much electricity will have approximately four times the cost per mile. It will also cause four times the green-house gas emissions, assuming that the source of the electricity is the same.

don't go full retard! what about the costs of the primary fuel, dumb ass??? if you're comparing electricity to other sources, then it matters. photovoltaics are pretty darn inefficient, but sunlight is free so it's a wash. get it?

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 2 months ago | (#47490697)

The costs of the primary fuel are paramount - the cheapest way to get hydrogen is from steam reformation of natural gas, not from electrolysis. Therefore that is the source that will be used, because the economic cost determines what happens in the market.

Subsidies of fuel cell vehicles are likely the result of lobbying from the fossil fuel industry, since they have the most to gain. As the sibling poster says, battery electric vehicles right now are suitable for over 90% of journeys, and battery technology continues to improve, with faster charging and better capacity and longevity.

And as you yourself point out - fuel cell cars raise the cost of the primary fuel - whatever it is - by a factor of four. It's still the same dichotomy we have now with battery versus chemical fuel.

You can either have a vehicle that has a long range and a rapid refuel time at the cost of ALL the journeys you make being expensive regardless of their length.

Or you can have a vehicle that has very cheap journeys 90% of the time at the cost of additional refuelling time on some of the longer journeys. Given the state of the technology now, it's more like 20 minutes every four hours, than four hours every 20 minutes. And to be honest, I think I could benefit from a 20 minute break after four hours of driving.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47490895)

to be fair, the primary source of electricity is also fossil fuel, either nat gas or coal. so your high horse isn't as high as you think it is. yes, h2 has higher ghgs than electricity, but there's no economic cost to that and it's still lower than gasoline.

in terms of range, 80 mi is fine for most of my driving, but occasionally I need a car that can do a day trip from LA to San Diego (200 mi round trip), 90% of which is high speed highway, and I'm not going to sweat any range issues.

. There is one retort to the range claim of FCVs- FCV may have more range than an EV, but the car is also much more expensive. If you took an EV and added a tow box with enough battery packs to make the vehicles have comparable price, then the range comparison would be much different.

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489933)

The US is doing things like that.

Check here:

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 2 months ago | (#47490007)

If you actually want to reduce emissions, it'd be many times more effective to use that money to give everyone free bus passes. And that way you'd actually be helping the poor instead of the wealthy!

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 2 months ago | (#47490119)

why should I have to pay for you to buy a new car???? no this is NOT how you do things

Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (1)

fulldecent (598482) | about 2 months ago | (#47490465)

The correct solution(1):

Recover costs from wars in the middle east this millennium from taxes added to gas consumption, domestic or foreign, until repaid.

This would be a ~80 per gallon if spread over 10 years.

This is assuming we fought the war "for oil", whatever the hell that means.

weird choice (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 months ago | (#47489511)

My impression is that, 10 or 15 years ago, electric vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles were perhaps equally good candidates for "future non-petroleum car technology", but that electric vehicles have been developing much faster, while fuel-cell vehicles have been going nowhere. Why now place a large bet on fuel cells?

Re:weird choice (3, Interesting)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 2 months ago | (#47489563)

I'm guessing because A) Japanese manufacturers have been focusing on fuel cells and B) electricity in Japan is quite expensive, reducing incentive to use it. Japan's power grid is also fairly strange and I'm not sure it'd be able to bear heavy electric car usage.

Re:weird choice (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 months ago | (#47489631)

Ah good point on (B). Also, since the Japanese public has gotten very skeptical of nuclear power post-Fukushima, that's likely to just put more upward pressure on electricity prices.

Re:weird choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489943)

> electricity in Japan is quite expensive, reducing incentive to use it

Is this because their nuclear power plants were (temporarily) shut down in the months that followed the Fukushima accident?

How much did electricity cost *before* the accident?

> Japan's power grid is also fairly strange and I'm not sure it'd be able to bear heavy electric car usage

Do you mean that the western half runs at 60Hz while the eastern part runs at 50Hz?
www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2011/07/19/reference/japans-incompatible-power-grids/

Re:weird choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47490745)

Just connect them together and run them both at 55 Hz.

You're welcome, Japan.

Re:weird choice (1)

will_die (586523) | about 2 months ago | (#47489575)

Because the other technologies are in existence and suck. So go with something future based and hope that works instead.

Re:weird choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489585)

From what I've understood, fuel-cell technology has mainly been held back by the expensive platinum catalyst that's been required, but this may be changing. [energy.gov] Once the technology can be proven to be practical we can then focus on designing the necessary infrastructure.

Besides, most of the advances in electric vehicles can also be applied to fuel-cell vehicles, so there's nothing wrong with keeping the technology alive.

Re:weird choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489603)

My impression is that, 10 or 15 years ago, electric vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles were perhaps equally good candidates for "future non-petroleum car technology", but that electric vehicles have been developing much faster, while fuel-cell vehicles have been going nowhere. Why now place a large bet on fuel cells?

It isn't a "bet". The goal isn't to find sure fire winners and then... what, give an incentive to do what everyone's already doing anyway? They're trying to incentivise development of alternatives, whatever they're supporting pretty much has to be a current under-dog for it to make sense for them to do that.

Re:weird choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47489741)

All the first wave of patents for fuel cells have or will soon expire? Just a guess...

Re:weird choice (0)

patniemeyer (444913) | about 2 months ago | (#47489777)

The only reason that I can come up with for this focus on fuel cells is that Toyota and the other existing car manufacturers want to see a hydrogen distribution system put in place so that they can continue producing internal combustion engines using hydrogen instead of the fuel cells themselves. I think these car companies see their long term intellectual property investment as being in the internal combustion engines and drive train technology. My guess is that they fear the drive trains becoming commodity parts (how many ways are there to make an A/C electric motor) and then they are left simply styling auto bodies and being fashion statements...

I think that fear is unwarranted, as Tesla has shown just how differentiated an electric car can be and how much innovation there can be in the car cabin and features themselves... But history has shown that old companies cannot always change even when they recognize that a disruption is coming. And oh boy is one coming...

Tesla = iPhone
Gas cars = Blackberry at best

Carbon impact is misleading (4, Informative)

Chalnoth (1334923) | about 2 months ago | (#47489557)

The issue is that the dominant technology for producing hydrogen is steam reforming [wikipedia.org] , which emits carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide as byproducts. This means that hydrogen fuel cells are most definitely not "carbon free" in any reasonable sense.

Perhaps at some point in the future it will become more common to generate hydrogen through some other means that doesn't produce CO/CO2, but we're definitely not there yet. So I'm not really sure that this technology is any better than electric vehicles. (which face a similar problem, but effective technologies to produce the electricity are already cost-competitive and on the rise as a result).

Absolutely - it is filthy (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 2 months ago | (#47489645)

All commercial hydrogen production is filthy and wasteful. It would be far greener to just burn the natural gas in a car than turning a little of it into hydrogen while producing lots more carbon and wasting lots of energy. And it is still a fossil fuel. Fuel cells are for idiots who want to pretend that the hydrogen comes from someplace clean and green for free.

Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (2)

c00rdb (945666) | about 2 months ago | (#47489925)

Why wouldn't it be feasible to just use electrolysis from a nuclear plant to split water? Carbon free, and transportable.

Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 2 months ago | (#47490635)

The simple answer is that electrolysis is no secret, but hydrogen production isn't being done this way. For whatever reason suits them, the major commercial producers are all using filthy wasteful processes to produce hydrogen from fossil fuel, venting CO, CO2, other harmful gasses and heat into the atmosphere in the process. This is already happening on a major industrial scale in California, you can't pretend that some alternate clean and efficient supply is just going to magically pop up to replace it because that would be sweet. This is just another of many examples where ignorant but well meaning environmental nuts make awful choices because they are incapable of looking at the entire system.

Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (1)

Chalnoth (1334923) | about 2 months ago | (#47490839)

Electrolysis is energetically very expensive. We don't have huge amounts of electrical power to spare for such wasteful pursuits. I doubt we ever will.

My naive expectation is that fifty years from now, we'll have transitioned most of our energy over to wind and solar power, with primarily algae-based biofuels making up for situations where we need to store energy (e.g. long-distance transportation). I'm a bit skeptical that nuclear will really take off. It'd be nice if the engineering challenges for breeder reactors were overcome, but I'm not sure they will be.

Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (2)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 months ago | (#47489927)

Fuel cells are for idiots who want to pretend that the hydrogen comes from someplace clean and green for free.

The CO2 has a less harmful affect on human health and the environment than the smog which collects when other nitrogen compounds emitted when burning fossil fuels.

Furthermore, the Hydrogen can produced in centralized locations which means the method of production can be more easily changed in manners which minimize any release.

Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (4, Interesting)

cerberusti (239266) | about 2 months ago | (#47490061)

Even if we could produce it in a reasonable manner hydrogen is highly explosive, very easy to ignite, cryogenic when liquefied (as in 20 K cryogenic), and likes to leak out of most containers at an impressive rate (even very well sealed and cooled containers which you could not practically place in a moving vehicle).

Leaks can also cause spontaneous ignition due to the fact that unlike most gasses, hydrogen warms on expansion and requires a terrifyingly low amount of energy to ignite.

There is effectively no way to overcome the practical issues with using dihydrogen alone as a fuel source while being competitive with anything else. It must be bound to another atom, such as carbon (and if that counts as hydrogen powered we already have it with gasoline.)

In the US we will end up doing exactly what you mention: We will burn the natural gas directly for energy, because that is a sane thing to do. It is stable and easy to store compared to hydrogen, and the energy density is good enough.

Re:Carbon impact is misleading (0)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 2 months ago | (#47489709)

If you generate CO2 in one location, you can sequester it quite easily for other uses - for example, for anything ranging from paintball tanks to soda to welding to fish tanks to greenhouses - if not just dump the stuff underground in old oil wells.

Re:Carbon impact is misleading (1)

Chalnoth (1334923) | about 2 months ago | (#47490845)

In principle, this is possible. In practice? I have no faith that it will actually be done.

Re:Carbon impact is misleading (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 months ago | (#47489869)

It's a shame they don't have a few nuclear power plants to generate cheap and clean electricity.

Re:Carbon impact is misleading (1)

hunter44102 (890157) | about 2 months ago | (#47490535)

I thought Electrolysis splits water into Hydrogen H2 and Oxygen O2. There would be no carbon involved

Re:Carbon impact is misleading (1)

brambus (3457531) | about 2 months ago | (#47490607)

You forgot one ingredient of electrolysis (hint: it's in the name) and guess where that comes from.

Re:Carbon impact is misleading (1)

Chalnoth (1334923) | about 2 months ago | (#47490851)

Electrolysis isn't economically feasible. It just takes too much energy.

What about methanol fuel cells? (2)

Lost Penguin (636359) | about 2 months ago | (#47489919)

Methanol fuel cells need some research love....

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

Begging the question (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47490091)

"This is the car of a new era because it doesn't emit any carbon dioxide and it's environmentally friendly.

Are fuel-cell vehicles in fact environmentally friendly? Not given current sources of hydrogen (assuming they're using hydrogen) they aren't.

Dumb idea. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 months ago | (#47490199)

Subsidies will not make the product viable.

Electric cars has many inherent advantages. Maximum torque at zero RPM for the electric motors is a big one, removes the transmission and all complexities associated with it. Electric motors are far more reliable than IC engines. There are instances of traction motors, whose coils were wound and sealed in 1920s hauling street cars till they died circa 1960s. No oil change, no tune ups, no timing belt replacements... Charging them overnight from the grid would be like buying gasoline at 2$ a gallon.

Still the initial cost of a 100 mile range battery is so high, it does not break even for a long time. That is the major hurdle. Not range anxiety. If the battery price drops people will buy them. Car rental companies will come up with competitively priced plans to access gasoline cars for the few times a year people need the longer range. Third parties will develop towable battery packs or gasoline range extenders. U-Haul franchises might start offering battery swap stations. Range is NOT what killing electric car. It is the price of battery.

If/when that price breakthrough comes, you would find all the gasoline car companies stand line at Washington DC, holding their hats asking for more government subsidies for gas cars.

What fuel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47490501)

Water, Hydrogen, Gas? And it would be cool if they ran on rice, then we could call them "rice burners"

Government picking winners and losers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47490619)

And this is the story of how they will waste money and get nowhere.

Policy decisions like this that pick specific technologies are almost always doomed to fail. If they wanted to wean themselves from carbon fuels, they would have provided a flat subsidy to all, like "$2k refundable credit for each your you drive a non-carbon fueled vehicle, for the next 10 years". Then electric or fuel cells or whatever - the most efficient tech would win. Now, well, why wouldn't they just give Toyota money for R&D instead?

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