Though most major automakers are investing heavily into hydrogen fuel cell technology, BMW says that consumers will be the ones that decide whether hydrogen, as energy, has a future. The automaker has supported fuel cells in the past and believes that hydrogen is a viable alternative to oil, but claims that automakers won’t see success with the technology through efforts of brute force. Regardless of all the money that automakers have dumped into improving fuel cells and making hydrogen-powered cars, consumers hold the keys to the ultimate fate of the technology.
BMW vice president of engineering Tom Baloga claims that the current situation the auto industry is experiencing is very much like the conflict between PC and Mac. As such, Baloga claims that the industry is in dire need
of variety rather than focus on a single form of alternative energy. Consumers have shown great interest in hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, and this could translate into other forms of transportation as well. Baloga believes that the auto market needs more forms of alternatively-powered cars in order to appeal to consumers.
Many automakers seem to believe that hydrogen is an all encompassing solution and have focused their efforts solely on fuel cell technology. Baloga notes that fuel cells are not the kind of solution that the industry should be so focused on because of the technology’s expensive nature. Fuel cells will be costly for consumers, who will likely shun them in favor of less expensive vehicles that still run on gasoline.