Hydrogen cars could still be a threat to electric vehicles

Hydrogen cars could still be a threat to electric vehicles

March 4, 2019 2 By Erin Kilgore

The battery-power electric vehicle market dominates the green vehicle market but this may change in the future.

Hydrogen cars are nowhere near as popular or as abundantly available as electric vehicles, especially in the United States. However, this might not be the case in the future. As much as Elon Musk, Tesla’s co-founder and CEO, has pooh-poohed hydrogen fuel cells, outwardly calling them “mind-boggling stupid” among other names, this hasn’t stopped the likes of powerful automakers like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai from developing fuel cell eclectic vehicles (FCEVs).

Hydrogen power is nothing new and has been on the market for years.

While there isn’t currently an abundance of hydrogen cars on the roads, this particular form of renewable power is far more established in the commercial market. Hydrogen can power much more than simply vehicles and has been used in a variety of applications. The most notable of these in the U.S. is in material handling equipment.

There are over 23,000 fuel cell-powered forklifts in operation at warehouses and distribution centers through the U.S. in over 40 states. Some of these distribution centers include Walmart and Amazon facilities.

There are also dozens of fuel cell buses planned in a number of states and California’s infrastructure is growing. The state already has 39 public hydrogen fueling stations, with another 25 in development.

Hydrogen cars are likely to gain more ground once major barriers are eliminated.

One of the major barriers standing in the way of hydrogen fuel vehicles is their cost. Presently, they are expensive to buy and refuel. For instance, Hyundai’s Nexo is the automaker’s most expensive car in the US, with a starting price of $59,345, which is significantly more than its gas-powered Santa Fe, which is comparable in size but is only $24,250.

Presently, automakers are covering the cost of refueling their hydrogen vehicles in California, but this won’t last forever. Eventually, the consumer will be taking on this cost too. According to the Kelley Blue Book, the estimated annual fuel costs for the Toyota Mirai, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and Hyundai Nexo is $4,495, which is three to four times the amount of gas-powered alternatives.

There’s no question that, as it stands, electric vehicles have a huge head start over hydrogen cars. These vehicles are simply a more viable, less expensive option and the charging infrastructure is readily available and is improving over Hydrogen Car - Toyota Miraitime. However, hydrogen could become a real competitor as interest in this technology grows to help combat climate change and hydrogen production becomes less costly.