Nissan COO Says 2017 Fuel-Cell Vehicle Won’t Compete with Nissan LEAF

1 year ago by Eric Loveday 13

Nissan FCEV Concept Vehicle.

Nissan FCEV Concept Vehicle.

Fuel-cell vehicles are the technology of tomorrow.  That’s what’s been claimed for some time now, so when’s “tomorrow?”

With a handshake, the Ford-Nissan-Daimler deal is done.

With a handshake, the Ford-Nissan-Daimler deal is done.

Some say it’s decade away, but a recent deal struck up between Nissan, Ford and Daimler hints that “tomorrow” may be sooner than expected.

On Monday, Nissan, Ford and Daimler signed a three-year agreement for joint development of a common fuel cell system that, according to the trio of automakers, will result in an affordable fuel-cell vehicle on the road by as early as 2017.

But we’ve heard claims similar to this before, so we’ll not act surprised if this statement proves to be inaccurate.

Regardless, Nissan’s chief operating officer, Toshiyuki Shiga, made some interesting comments on fuel-cell technology:

“Fuel-cell technology is suited for use in large vehicles and long-distance driving.”

Apparently, this comment was made in response to a question asked by a reporter.  The question was whether a fuel-cell vehicle would hinder sales of the electric Nissan LEAF, so Shiga’s response would seem to indicate that the LEAF is safe, even if an affordable fuel-cell vehicle without restricted range becomes reality.

Nissan’s head of research and development, Mitsuhiko Yamashita, reinforced this notion with this statement:

“Fuel cell electric vehicles are the obvious next step to complement today’s battery electric vehicles as our industry embraces more sustainable transportation.”

If we read between the lines here, then we realize that Nissan’s approach is that fuel-cell technology, when it becomes feasible, affordable and practical, will only be utilized in large vehicles (SUVs, trucks, full-size cars), while the pure electric setup will be reserved for compact, subcompact and possibly even mid-sizers.

But we still doubt the possibility of an affordable fuel-cell vehicle appearing by 2017.   Perhaps the automakerss use of the word “affordable” isn’t accurate.  By affordable, we assume a LEAF-priced vehicle.   But is this what Nissan, Ford and Daimler are actually implying?

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13 responses to "Nissan COO Says 2017 Fuel-Cell Vehicle Won’t Compete with Nissan LEAF"

  1. Of course it won’t compete with the LEAF. The LEAF is a real car in the real world and this is just another ‘car of the future’. If any of these manufacturers were actually serious about it they wouldn’t be ‘collaborating’ on the project. They are only doing so to share the expense of what they know will never come to fruition. If they were really serious they would be doing it on their own, secretly like Nissan did when they were working on the LEAF so they could get a jump on the competition.

    1. Josh says:

      Amen.

      They are consolidating the FCEV budgets and writing off their 10+ year “research assets” in this into the joint venture. Accounting will take care of the rest…

  2. GSP says:

    Right on Tom!

    Even if the fuel cell car becomes affordable, hydrogen will be $6/kg (equivalent to $6/gal gas) or more, and available at 3-4 stations in the US. Plus the tank will take up luggage space.

    Contrast that to the Model S with huge storage space, and inexpensive fill ups every night at your home.

    GSP

  3. Jay Cole says:

    Hyd****n!!! I thought I had escaped its icy grasp!

  4. Herm says:

    All this people must know somthing that escapes the rest of us.., probably a paycheck from the oil companies :)

    CNG has a brighter future in the US, it will soon be available at truck stops everywhere.. like gasoline for $1 a gallon again!

  5. Greenalchemy says:

    I think about it this way…”if someone says something can be done they’re probably right. If they say something can’t be done they’re probably wrong.” Quote From Arthur C. Clarke. Bloom Energy has already come up with fuel cell servers that power whole buildings. I’ll let you think about that a minute…..

    It’s not a matter of if fuel cell vehicles wil come out. It’s only a question of WHEN they come out.

    1. kdawg says:

      I don’t think fuel cell technology is the issue as much as getting cheap hydrogen. CNG fuel cells make more sense right now.

      Maybe many years from now, someone will find a cheap source of hydrogen, that makes more sense than just using electricity for hydrolysis. Until then, I wish the industry would focus on other forms of energy storage.

  6. Bill Howland says:

    Hydrogen power has a very poor track record… These “Cars of the Future” to date have been exactly that… They’ve been “Just around the Corner” for at least 30 years now.

    CNG would be great if I could get a reliable cheap Home Refueler, which supposedly GE and Whirlpool are going to market. Not sure of the company actually making the supposedly $500 unit. All I know is that it will be a ‘hybrid’ in that hydraulics will power the compression cylinder(s), since 3500 pounds/square inch is required, up from the 1/4 psi inlet.

    The Phill (Fuelmaker) unit has been around for ten years, but is dying a slow death. $5000 for an unreliable unit is no bargain. Honda won’t even sell you one with its CNG Civic any longer..

    The only real hope Fuel Cells had was Cheap Hydrogen from GEN 3+ Nuclear Plants. Chernobyl and Fukushima just about put the Death Knell on those things.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        3M making 20% lighter and bigger tanks is certainly a technology advance, but not quite my immediate problem…

        Chesapeake is selling a very expensive unit that is 840,000 btu/hour input. (7 gal equiv/ hour). I would imagine this would need a 10 horsepower motor to drive it, or, preferably, a 10 hp natural gas engine for the compressor.

        I don’t care to spend 20-40,000 dollars since this would be for my personal use only.

        The Phill unit from Fuelmaker at about 50,000 btu/hour input (under 1/2 gallon per hour equivalent) was slow, but it was an attractive unit. If only it didn’t cost so much and wasn’t so unreliable. Occassionally you see a unit 3 times the size for much more money on ebay used. I might consider that someday, but I’d still like a home – reliable- $500 refueler. Much more practical than Fuel Cells.

  7. Brian Keez says:

    Good comments! FCV’s are great for the natural gas industry and that’s about it. Stripping hydrogen out of natural gas is the plan and the process is more than two times LESS efficient than a battery electric vehicle (202 kwh vs. 79 kwh to yeild 60 kwh to the wheels). So even if the vehicle were priced like a LEAF, the cost per mile just doesn’t make sense.

  8. staff says:

    Related to this the Dept of Energy put out an RFI for cost targets on fuel cells designed for auto applications this week.

    40 cent per kW by 2020, 30 cents by 2030, but with some big assumptions. Current is 47 cents. Here is a chart from GreenCarCongress on it:

  9. Roy_H says:

    Oil companies are too smart to put their money into it, even though they are the ones that will profit by selling H2. They persuade politicians that this is the next step and it is governments the world over that pay auto companies for their FC research. Auto companies are taking very little risk with this approach, and gladly accept the government handouts. The oil companies will in turn be given huge sums of government money to upgrade their gas stations to handle hydrogen. Must be nice to have politicians in your pocket.