Brighter future for hydrogen cars

In response to Friday’s article, “Hydrogen-Fueled Cars Face Uncertain Market in California”:

Zero-emission vehicles hold great promise for California. This is true for both battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; the latter offer drivers amenities similar to today’s gasoline cars: good performance, large vehicle size, refueling in three to five minutes, and a 300- to 400-mile range. Moreover:

* Major automakers — Hyundai, Toyota, BMW, Daimler, Ford, GM, Honda and Nissan — have all announced plans to introduce commercial hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in 2014-20. Along with battery electric vehicles (EVs), automakers see FCVs as a critical component of their long-term strategy to provide vehicles that contribute to energy and climate policy goals.

* Sophisticated strategies are emerging for building a hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Public-private partnerships, such as the California Fuel Cell Partnership, are leading this effort by bringing together key stakeholders.

The next few years will see concerted efforts in California and globally to introduce hundreds of hydrogen fueling stations capable of supporting tens of thousands of FCVs, backed by several hundred million dollars in public investment and billions of dollars in private investment. If these regional rollouts succeed, hydrogen FCVs might be just a few years behind battery EVs and ultimately enable zero emissions without compromising consumer expectations.

Joan Ogden
Director, Next Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (NextSTEPS), UC Davis

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