Head Of Daimler Says Electric Cars Are More Realistic Than Hydrogen

2 years ago by Steven Loveday 74

Daimler CEO Zetsche

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche

Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche recently spoke with Euro am Sonntag. He said it is his belief that EVs are more likely than hydrogen technology to come out ahead.

Electrified Daimlers

Electrified Daimlers

The electric market just “has more answers.” It is increasingly clear that longer range, faster charging EVs are attainable. There is currently no proof that hydrogen can be done cheaply and made readily available.

Daimler will still continue working on hydrogen fuel cell cars (Daimler has been a fuel cell supporter for decades), but it seems the automaker is now more focused on electrics.

Zetsche is counting on advancements to make the new technologies a reality. He would like to see Germany achieve its goal of 1 million EVs on the road by 2020.

However, he is not an advocate of using subsidies and tax breaks to get there. He believes, “They represent a short-term ‘bridging function’ that won’t last long.” 

All this being said, it would be shocking if Zetsche (and Daimler) turned down any government money being pushed his way.

Of note:  by the end of 2016, Daimler will offer 7 plug-in models offered in the US – up from 3 in 2015 (B-Class/250e, smart ED, S550H), and no less than 12 plug-in models in total globally in 2017

While today’s crop of plug-in hybrids range in the low teens for all-electric range in miles, development director Dr. Thomas Weber says that the next generation of Mercedes PHEVs will see ranges between 30-50 km (19-31 miles), with the following product delivering up to 80-100 km (50-62 miles).

A long range, all-electric Mercedes (saloon) that is headed for production in 2018 is expected to debut shortly, with 3 long range EVs  to follow (2 crossover SUVs and another passenger car), all built on the company’s new electric vehicle architecture called EVA.

Tesla’s influence on the future direction of the premium/luxury class has been profound to say the least.

Source: Aol Tech

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74 responses to "Head Of Daimler Says Electric Cars Are More Realistic Than Hydrogen"

  1. Alaa says:

    He will take the money.

    1. Foo says:

      Ya, das money ist gut.

  2. philip d says:

    I wonder how long Toyota will hold out before changing their mind?

    1. evcarnut says:

      As long as they need to ,in order to fulfill whatever Agenda it is they are concealing …

    2. David Murray says:

      I wonder too. It won’t take them long to figure out the Prius Prime is making them money but the Mirai is not.

      1. John says:

        I wonder how much Toyota is being pressured by the Japanese government. Something external has to be going on…

        1. David Murray says:

          Well, my gut feeling is that many of these hydrogen products started development 5 or 6 years ago, maybe longer. At that time, it wasn’t as clear as it is now that EVs and PHEVs are a better solution. But since they spent all of that development money they feel they want some kind of return on it, even if it is just hype and green-washing.

          1. Neil Dunn says:

            I may be wrong, but I think that Toyota has very low average C02 emissions per car, so they have less to do to comply with the regulations. Thus, they can let the other car companies do the hard work of development of EVs before taking advantage of cheaper component prices later on.

          2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            David Murray said:

            “Well, my gut feeling is that many of these hydrogen products started development 5 or 6 years ago, maybe longer. At that time, it wasn’t as clear as it is now that EVs and PHEVs are a better solution.”

            Actually, according to more than one source I’ve read, fuel cell cars have been in development at multiple auto makers about as long as plug-in EVs have.

            And I wouldn’t claim that was a foolish investment. Who knows where R&D will lead? It could have lead to something practical… something other than a propulsion system requiring compressed hydrogen gas as a fuel. Even now, aluminum-air fuel cells seem like a real possibility… altho the tech for that is quite different than what most people mean when they say “fuel cell”.

            What is foolish isn’t the R&D. What is more than foolish — it’s stupid and monumentally wasteful — is putting “fool cell” cars into mass production and using taxpayer money to fund building H2 fuel stations. Not to mention, that diverts attention and resources away from developing practical EVs… which is, of course, why Big Oil & Gas companies are promoting FCEVs and hydrogen fuel stations despite their utter impracticality.

            1. Terawatt says:

              Multiple unreliable sources then. The first BEVs were developed over a century ago. Fuel cells, not so much.

            2. Epicurus says:

              Not sure why the Japanese government decided to push FCVs, but the incentive for oil and gas companies is obvious. I would be surprised if they aren’t spending a lot of money to push the government, state and federal, to fund FCV fueling infrastructure. They need new markets for all the natural gas fracking has provided.

            3. Clive says:

              Fool-Cell!

        2. liberty says:

          That’s the tail wagging the dog. Toyota is actively lobbying in Japan and US for hydrogen. If toyota switched and joined nissan, the japanese government would support plug-ins over hydrogen.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            The question is which is the cause, and which the effect. I think Toyota’s turn away from BEVs and toward promoting “fool cell” cars followed the Japanese government’s promotion of the “hydrogen highway”… and not the other way around.

            The actual promoters of the “hydrogen highway” are Big Oil & Gas companies, in Japan just as they are in California. Check out the names of the supporters in Japan, and note how many are selling natural gas, which is where 95% of commercially produced hydrogen comes from:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_highway_%28Japan%29#Supporters

            Yes, Toyota is listed among the supporters. That shouldn’t be a surprise, given Toyota’s PR campaign to promote their “fool cell” cars. It would be interesting to learn just when Toyota became a supporter. Were they a charter member? Or did they join only later, after pressure was applied by the Japanese government?

            If I’m right, then Toyota wasn’t a charter member.

            1. liberty says:

              Toyota joined with GM in 2002 to push fuel cells in california and have CARB drop the bev mandate. Toyota was involved before that ofcourse but it seemed to be giving plug-ins more R&d. The prius program came from plug-in advances in motors, electronic controls, and batteries.

            2. Terawatt says:

              I see one rational and one irrational reason for Toyota to wish for fool cells to win. First, for any business to enjoy fat profit margins over long periods of time, there must be high barriers to entry. H2 tech is a big barrier (and Toyota has much know-how). Second, the sunken cost fallacy may well be at play.

              Toyota promoting a non-solution in order to profit while ruining the planet is just them doing what corporations do. I hate them only as much as the rest in this respect. But Toyota utterly failing to read the writing on the wall and continue to retard BEVs when it’s become utterly obvious that they are ready half a century earlier than H2 (at best) isn’t just evil, but completely meaningless even in the psychopathic perspective. I hope they go bankrupt over it – though I of course realize that’s extremely unlikely.

        3. Martin T says:

          100% Japanese Gov. behind Hydrogen push.
          & Yes it is a 100% mistake.

          They should back Nissan instead with full EV’s.

          The head of Daimler is a very wise person indeed. He knows where it’s as do a few others.

  3. agzand says:

    The key advantage to hydrogen is storage capability. When the sun is shining you can produce hydrogen and store it in large scale. Battery storage cannot be scaled up to the same level. I think Toyota is right and hydrogen is the future, but there will be a transition phase when batteries will be more prevalent. Hydrogen probably needs another decade or two to develop.

    1. John says:

      I can’t store hydrogen in my garage when the sun is shining on my solar panels…

      But I can store the excess power in my car, powerwall, battery bank, water heater, etc.

      1. Aaron says:

        Hydrogen storage must be done cryogenically to be space efficient. Hydrogen is a very sparse gas. Keeping things cryogenically stored takes a lot of energy. Not something you can easily do in your garage. This is one of the reasons hydrogen stations are $2 million each.

        1. $4 million each for low volume stations. A “high volume” station capable of 1/4 the throughput of a typical gas station is $5 million according to DOE.

          A hydrogen station equivalent to a typical gas station would require 15 tube tanker truck deliveries per day.

    2. John in AA says:

      That’s an OK reason for using H2 to store energy centrally to feed the grid at night. It’s not a convincing reason to build out a huge H2 distribution network to pump it into cars gas tanks.

      This kind of thing gets rehashed periodically. Time for another why-H2-to-the-curb-doesn’t-work-economically article?

      1. Priusmaniac says:

        H2 to store energy at night is terrible. First it is hard to do fast like in a pump storage facility secondly the yield is very bad while the pump storage is at a relatively good 70% and more. The only place where hydrogen storage would be interesting is for moon night energy storage where the low gravity makes pump storage difficult especially with low water availability. In contrast hydrogen there would demand much less water and mean a much lower mass to transport from Earth to Moon than what would be the case with batteries.

    3. Bret says:

      There are two huge disadvantages to hydrogen:

      1. The efficiency is poor. A Mirai has an MPGe of only 67 miles, compared to 115 MPGe for a BMW i3. Over millions of future cars, this is a huge amount of wasted energy.

      2. The usability is terrible. As many have already posted, storing and fueling with hydrogen is extremely expensive and inconvenient. Oil companies would love to sell you hydrogen, but electricity is ubiquitous and can’t be monopolized. Plus, you can refuel in your own garage and it’s cheap to put charging stations everywhere.

      Dieter is right, EVs will win out for obvious reasons.

    4. tosho says:

      And that’s the reason Mr. Dieter Zetsche is the CEO of Daimler and you are not 🙂

      1. agzand says:

        Yeah maybe I should be CEO of Toyota. Betting against Toyota has proven to be wrong every time. In 1990s GM developed the EV and Toyota developed the hybrid. We know who was right. Don’t be arrogant, keep an open mind.

        1. Stimpy says:

          That was then, and this is now. It’s looking quite likely that Toyota has its collective heads buried in the sand on EVs.

    5. kdawg says:

      “Battery storage cannot be scaled up to the same level”
      ——-
      Are you not familiar with the Tesla Powerpack? Fully scale-able.

      https://www.teslamotors.com/presskit/teslaenergy

    6. BraveLilToaster says:

      *blahblahblah*

      Storage capacity isn’t that great. Teslas are getting more range than Mirais right now. Except in actual range figures, in which case they’re getting *far more* range right now, because you can *actually go* from one end of the country to the other in a Tesla, by nearly any route you like. If you can make that happen with the hydrogen infrastructure inside of 3 years, I’m going to eat my hat.

      No, what you meant to say is that when you’re filling up, you’re saving time. Or something, because you actually have to attend the fill-up. So while you’re spending 2 minutes filling up, I’m spending 15 minutes to go grab something to eat and take a leak, and by the time I’m back, I’m pretty much done. If you can manage to accomplish these biological functions inside of 15 minutes, then good for you, but personally, I see two things getting done at once, thus erasing any real convenience factor.

      So while I’m sure you’ll enjoy paying more to go 15% farther in a day on a long road trip, I’m going to stay with my electric, kthx.

    7. rcm4453 says:

      This person clearly must be on the Toyota Mirai team, this statement is dead wrong. In five years from now you will see that PHEVs and BEVs have won!

      1. agzand says:

        How arrogant one can be. That is just what I said. In 5-10 years EVs will win. But in 15-20 years hydrogen will win. EVs are just a transition because they use too much raw material.

    8. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      agzand said:

      “The key advantage to hydrogen is storage capability. When the sun is shining you can produce hydrogen and store it in large scale. Battery storage cannot be scaled up to the same level.”

      A key disadvantage to generating hydrogen as an energy storage system, even in a closed system, is poor efficiency. Why throw away 40-50% of the energy generated?

      And stationary battery storage is already being scaled up; notice all the PowerPacks that Tesla is selling, and other companies are doing the same.

      As the price of li-ion batteries continues to drop, energy storage using batteries will continue to be scaled up.

      1. agzand says:

        Once you scale up production and technology improve hydrogen will be more efficient/cheaper. It is an industry in its infancy. The problem with batteries is that they use too much raw material.

  4. scott franco (the evil republican EV owner) says:

    “All this being said, it would be shocking if Zetsche (and Daimler) turned down any government money being pushed his way.”

    This is the standard leftist line, that if you don’t believe in subsidies, you should not take the money.

    If the government takes money from EVERYBODY and passes it out to some people, they are still giving you BACK YOUR OWN MONEY.

    Ie., you can be against subsidies and NOT BE STUPID. To bad the same criteria does not exist for leftistim.

    1. David Murray says:

      Well, realistically, I think the real issue is that their competitors will take the money. So in order to remain competitive, they would have to take the subsidy too.

    2. Jacked Beanstalk says:

      Actually he says of susidies/tax breaks “They represent a short-term ‘bridging function’ that won’t last long.”

      That is likely true. I predict that oil subsidies will remain in place long after the EV subsidies have expired.

      Anyhow I suppose you also believe oil companies should pay for their own wars to secure oil instead of having the US Government subsidize the security of their oil extraction operations?

      1. ArthurX says:

        I think you’re quite right. About the wars, but many companies make a profit from war and I am afraid, they will continue to lobby.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      scott franco (the evil republican EV owner)

      “This is the standard leftist line, that if you don’t believe in subsidies, you should not take the money.”

      Gosh, I wasn’t aware that pragmatism overcoming idealism was a characteristic found only among liberals. [/snark]

      My grandfather, a Western Kansas wheat farmer, often railed against subsidies for not growing crops. Believe me, nobody would ever mistake Grandpa for a liberal! But when up on his soap box about that, as he frequently was, he always made it clear that he did take those subsidies, and that so long as the government offered them, he would continue to take them.

      I suppose some might call that hypocrisy, but honestly I think very few people will refuse to take money when it’s offered and it’s legal to take it. Saints and monks may impoverish themselves by choice, but very few others do!

      And no auto maker would do so. Their stockholders wouldn’t allow it. Any board of directors who chose to do so would be voted out of office.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Your grandpa was sensible. Those subsidies are not free, they came from his tax money. In effect, getting subsidy is a form of getting his added tax money back from the government.

        All these talk of ending the subsidy is meaningless without corresponding cut in taxes. That is not happening. Liberals want to increase taxes, Socialist-republicans want to take away cuts in taxes (ie, subsidies). Scott is evil not because he drives EV; he’s evil for talking about taking away tax cuts (subsidies) and not even mentioning that there won’t be any other way to reduce one’s taxes in similar amount.

    4. This! And for the same reason, I took the Federal and Georgia tax credits when I leased my Leaf. I may not agree with them, but I pay my taxes so taking a credit which offsets only a portion of the taxes I have paid is just fine as long as the credit is offered.
      I will also admit that, were it not for the tax credits, I never would have considered an EV. So my perspective has changed a bit on that issue b/c the credits did accomplish something by getting me to try the new technology. And now I love EVs and spend much time evangelizing my fellow conservatives on the merits of EVs such as energy independence.

      1. Epicurus says:

        Tell your conservative friends to watch the new Frontline expose on Saudi Arabia and then decide if they want an ally like that and if they want our president to continue to bow down to, hold hands with, and kiss the Saudi king when he visits (yes, George W. kissed him–on the lips! Ugh). If that doesn’t motivate them to buy a BEV or PHEV, I don’t know what will.

        We have really debased ourselves because of our dependence on foreign oil.

  5. jelloslug says:

    Well, duh!

    1. evcarnut says:

      Whatever Mr. Womb Broom is now realizing and or saying Has been a “N0 BRAINNER” To Elon Musk & the rest of us .,For a long long time now!

  6. telveer says:

    How can the head of such a large company be so ignorant? Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars are EVs too (FCEVs). Instead of batteries, they use fuel cells to provide electricity. While fuel cells are clearly not ready for prime time in passenger cars, they can be an alternative to or supplement low-energy-density, heavy batteries for EV truck fleets. GM, Hyundai, Toyota, et al should have gone the fleet route (where there is control and investment opportunities for new refueling infrastructure) instead of pushing them to passenger vehicles first.

    1. Braben says:

      “How can the head of such a large company be so ignorant? Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars are EVs too (FCEVs). Instead of batteries, they use fuel cells to provide electricity. ”

      He isn’t. This is a case of “lost in translation”. The article cited by InsideEVs is a quote of a quote of a translated quote. Here’s a link to the original interview in German:

      http://www.finanzen.net/nachricht/aktien/Euro-am-Sonntag-Titel-Daimler-Chef-Zetsche-34-Wir-werden-fuer-Ueberraschungen-sorgen-34-4745009

      A more accurate translation of the relevant statements is:

      Q: What is winning the race in electric mobility, the battery or the fuel cell?

      Zetsche: We are researching both and have very successful cooperations with good partners in both areas. We consider ourselves on par with the technology leaders. It isn’t clear yet what will prevail in the end. But what can be stated is that the battery solution has become more attractive in recent years. It has become more likely that it will prevail.

      Q: Why?

      Zetsche: One one hand battery vehicles have made clear progress in the problematic fields – short range and long charging times. Cars with a range of 500km and 20 minute fast charging will soon be within reach. On the other hand the big issue with the fuel cell – inexpensive and extensive distribution of the hydrogen – hasn’t really been solved yet.

      1. If this site had a tip jar, you would be richer by the price of a pint.

        Thank you!

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Shout out to Braben:

        Thank you for your valuable contribution to this discussion!

        Well done, sir.

  7. Mark C says:

    The only reason I can see to pursue a hydrogen fuel cell car is from having petroleum executives on the auto manufacturers board of directors.

    Hydrogen refueling would guarantee the petroleum industry a huge number of customers long after the fossil fueled vehicles become little more than historical curiosities.

    1. David Murray says:

      I sort of agree. But I think it is actually worse than that. The oil execs know that fuel cell technology will probably never be viable. So they can use that excuse as a delay factor to keep more customers and manufacturers from adopting EVs.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Yes. Big Oil promotes the “hydrogen economy” because it diverts attention and money away from development of practical plug-in EVs. Sure, they also get money from selling natural gas which is reformed into hydrogen, but I think that’s a minor motive for them compared to promoting the “hydrogen economy” to fight against the EV revolution.

  8. evcarnut says:

    Let’s N0T Kid 0urselves , there is “METHOD” to all this nonsensical “MADNESS”..

    1. deborah crazy train says:

      So true !!!!!!!!!!!

  9. SparkEV says:

    They should bring back “Ask Dr. Z” commercials touting BEV!

    1. Aaron says:

      Agreed. I liked those commercials during the DaimerChrysler days.

  10. Dwwayne says:

    Most likely Hydrogen can be cheaply produced from natural gas with out dumping CO2 in the air. (i.e. direct fracturing with liquid tin). The real problem is that there is no safe way to store hydrogen in moving cars that are prone to crashing.

    1. Djoni says:

      That’s not what Dieter Zetsche said but rather” There is currently no proof that hydrogen can be done cheaply and made readily available.”

      Which is something that most reader here agreed a long time ago, but if you have this “new tech of the future” feel free to share all your link.

    2. Jacked Beanstalk says:

      That’s easy, just store it in giant floating bags above the car. It will lower the curb weight for greater efficiency!

      Fill ups would be simple, just pull in and swap the deflated bag for a “blimped up” bag. Easy!

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Dwwayne said:

      “Most likely Hydrogen can be cheaply produced from natural gas with out dumping CO2 in the air.”

      Not cheaply, unless you can change the laws of physics. Not cheap to generate. Not cheap to compress. Not cheap to store. Not cheap to transport. Not cheap to store at the fueling station. Not cheap to dispense.

      Good luck with changing the laws of physics.

  11. pjwood1 says:

    This wasn’t a 2016 revelation. For how long has Dieter known electrification was going to win?

    1. Alaa says:

      He helped Elon to start the Smart car. He was wicked. He knew then that there is a chance of failure and success. For his bad luck Elon succeed!

      1. Paul says:

        Sorry? I would call it good luck. They made nearly 0.73 billion of profit on the Tesla stock that was part of the deal.

        They never could have earned so much that fast with the investment of the same 50 million in the production of their own cars.

  12. Steve says:

    I wonder which us automaker will be the first to admit ev is the future? My guess is Ford. MB and Nissan have seen the light. denial is not just a river in Egypt.

    1. I think it is GM – they are already doing much more than Ford.

      1. Epicurus says:

        No doubt. The Chevy Bolt may be the game changer: a reasonably priced BEV with a 200 mile range.

        Unless the Tesla model 3 beats it to market.

  13. What was his first clue?

    This is obvious even to us folks.

  14. Priusmaniac says:

    This sound exactly like the church saying “the earth turns around the sun and it always has been” after they first killed or chased all the astronomers and scientist saying so. Lol.

  15. QC says:

    Hydrogen might have worked for planes/trucks/ships, but now it’s too late, battery development will take leaps every year. In a decade hybrid planes will be here

  16. Kjetil Kjernsmo says:

    The only thing that can create a “Hydrogen Economy” is warm nuclear fusion, in which there’s a power source that has a temperature of 1000 K. Then, the first step might be to use some thermochemical process to create hydrogen, and then a steam turbine to create electricity and then distribute the rest of the heat for domestic heating. If there are enough 100 MW plants of that type, there is a network that could be used for trucks, ships and planes, since the production could happen where the hydrogen can be used directly, in goods transport hubs, ports and airports. Even then, transportation or pipelines for hydrogen make zero sense given the exponential development of battery tech, so for small vehicles, as it is of a far too decentralized nature.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Cheap electricity from cheap fusion will make BEVs even more competitive against “fool cell” cars, not less. Even if H2 can be generated cheaply, it will still be expensive to compress, store, move, compress again, and dispense. Even if the energy for all that is cheap, the infrastructure, equipment, and vehicles needed won’t be.

      And on the subject of using pipelines to distribute compressed hydrogen: Not gonna happen. Existing pipelines can’t handle that pressure. Furthermore, H2 leaks past seals, and (slowly) even thru the solid wall of a metal pipe. It also embrittles any metal it remains in long-term contact with, so even if a practical H2 pipeline could be build affordably, it would have to be rebuilt every few years.

  17. Speculawyer says:

    And it only took him A DECADE to figure it out.

    1. evcarnut says:

      What about the $$$ TRILLIONS $$$ subsides the OIL Companies Have been Getting for Decades & decades on end ??? When will he Figure that one out?? Oh , I know,,WHEN THE TIME COMES THAT HE IS FORCED TO BUILD “EV’s !…………LOL ….

  18. deborah crazy train says:

    Very interesting !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “Head Of Daimler Says Electric Cars Are More Realistic Than Hydrogen”

    In other news, Daimler recently noticed that the sun rises in the east every morning. [/snark]

    “There is currently no proof that hydrogen can be done cheaply and made readily available.”

    There’s plenty of proof that it can’t, altho some rather vocal people aren’t willing to face that reality.

  20. Epicurus says:

    He must be reading Duh magazine.