Fuel cells and batteries may co-exist, but hybrids may vanish
Clean transportation is gaining momentum, and many automakers are beginning to show support for hydrogen fuel cells over batteries. This has created some controversy, as some companies believe that fuel cell technology is not capable of meeting consumer needs in the same way that batteries are. BMW, however, believes that both fuel cell vehicles and battery electrics will co-exist in the future, offering consumers more options when it comes to clean transportation. The vehicles that may not survive into the future, however, are plug-in hybrids.
Hybrids are meant to serve as a bride to help consumers embrace clean transportation
Merten Jung, head of fuel cell development for BMW, believes that both fuel cells and batteries have a future in clean transportation. Plug-in hybrids, however, only exist to smooth the transition from conventional vehicles to cleaner solutions. Jung notes that fuel cell technology has an edge over batteries in that fuel cell vehicles feature a quick refueling time. These vehicles are also more efficient than electric vehicles, with some being able to travel more than 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen fuel. The problem, however, is that fuel cell vehicles lack the infrastructure they need to become successful.
Fuel cells may be better suited for large vehicles
Vehicle size may become one of the factors that determines whether or not fuel cell vehicles will beat out their battery-powered counterparts. BMW believes that fuel cells will be well suited for larger vehicles, even those as large as tanks. Smaller vehicles, however, may benefit more from batteries, as relatively small battery systems can be used to provide them with the power that they need.
Partnerships could help mitigate the costs associated with fuel cell development
BMW and Toyota are currently working together to develop a hydrogen drivetrain. While BMW notes that it would have invested in such a venture on its own, the costs associated with fuel cells makes it more practical for the automaker to work with other companies. The automaker is also investing in the development of new hydrogen fuel stations, hoping to bolster the hydrogen infrastructure needed for fuel cell vehicles to find success among consumers.