Hydrogen Versus Electric Cars – Video

SEP 11 2015 BY MARK KANE 60

Hydrogen Versus Electric Cars

Hydrogen Versus Electric Cars (via YT/5 hours ahead)

Hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cell cars always lead to heated discussions of the future of the automobile.

We clearly understand some advantages of FCV (like long range, quick refuel), but we don’t understand how some large manufacturers expect to overcome obstacles and disadvantages (for example price of cars, price of hydrogen and lack of infrastructure).

Here is a video titled Hydrogen cars vs. Electric cars, in which uploader seems skeptical too.

Just for explanation – an electric car simply means all-electric cars, although non-plug-in hydrogen fuel cell cars are often lumped together with electric cars because of their electric drive.

If the wheels of the car are to be driven by an electric motor, then we bet on batteries, sometimes with an additional range-extender of some sort.

Categories: General


Leave a Reply

60 Comments on "Hydrogen Versus Electric Cars – Video"

newest oldest most voted

Oh boy, here we go….


“Fool cell” cars: Preferred to plug-in EVs by four out of five people who think the Laws of Physics are a matter of opinion. 😉

Are you the 1 out 5?

I expect to see plenty of opinions and not very many carefully weighted arguments relating to the advantages and disadvantages of each technical approach.

The Second Law has been weighted for nearly two centuries, to become “the biggest, most powerful, general idea in all of science.” REALITY is your one in five.

Hydrogren doesn’t normally come from water.

“Today, 95% of the hydrogen produced in the United States is made by natural gas reforming in large central plants.”


Isn’t the hole point of moving away from gasoline to stop use fossil fuels? Or is the oil company paying the car manufacturers so that they could continue to sell fossil fuel to us? It won’t stop the green gases if we continue to use natural gas.

We will continue to use natural gas for a long time. But to use it to make hydrogen to power vehicles is not needed and has few real proponents.
It’s a vintage that has been dead on the vine for years, but they are still trying to make wine out of it and convince others to drink it. It was not a very good year.

People who “don’t understand how some large manufacturers expect to overcome obstacles and disadvantages (for example price of cars, price of hydrogen and lack of infrastructure)”, apparently haven’t bothered to read any of the literature describing same. Here’s a good place to start:

“The Hydrogen Transition”


CARB’s 2014 and 2015 Annual Reports are also very useful:

[2014] “Annual Evaluation of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment and Hydrogen
Fuel Station Network Development”, http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/zevprog/ab8/ab8_report_final_june2014.pdf

“2015 Annual Evaluation of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment and Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development”, http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/zevprog/ab8/ab8_report_2015.pdf

GRA and a few others are big hydrogen supporters on this thread on the LEAF forum:


GRA said:

“People who ‘don’t understand how some large manufacturers expect to overcome obstacles and disadvantages (for example price of cars, price of hydrogen and lack of infrastructure)’, apparently haven’t bothered to read any of the literature describing same.”

I understand quite well enough. Unlike some, I am scientifically literate.

And one doesn’t need to read all the arguments of flat-earthers to know that all their arguments are pure B.S. Likewise, I don’t need to read all the arguments in favor of hydrogen fueled cars to know that none of their arguments can possibly change physics, the Laws of Thermodynamics, or the economic reality of EROI (Energy Return On Investment). Anyone who has even a basic understanding of those three subjects will understand, beyond any reasonable doubt, that FCEVs can never compete with gasmobiles. Not because of the limitations of fuel cells, but because hydrogen is too expensive and too hard to work with, to ever compete with gasoline to power a car.

GRA, your purpose here is not to explain Truths. Your purpose is to sell something that benefits nobody except Big Oil.

Years ago, when I first started looking at zero emission for cars, I came across hydrogen. Hmmm, looks clean, most abundant element in the universe, ok… it only took about 30 minutes of reading and thinking to go “Whup. Nope. this ain’t gonna do it.”
This was a couple of years before Elon spoke out about what BS hydrogen is.
It’s total BS, and so are the people that try to convince you otherwise. I don’t need to spend 5 more seconds on the subject. Unless and until the laws of physics change, hydrogen proponents can go p*ss up a rope.

Actually, my purpose isn’t to sell anything, it’s to provide information from multiple points of view that will allow people to make up their own minds. Personally, I don’t care if BEVs, FCEVs or both succeed, just as long as we transition from fossil fuels to electrified transportation powered by sustainable renewables (and nukes, if necessary).

The higher energy efficiency of BEVs is nice, but not if most people can’t benefit from them and thus won’t buy them (since most of the world’s urban population can’t charge at home, and won’t be able to for decades if ever). I’m technology-neutral, and will happily use BEVS, FCEVs, of bio-fueled AFVs, whichever meets my needs at a price I can afford. At the moment none of them do, although FCVs currently have an edge for my particular situation, but that may change.

Yeah, right….

+1 GRA, it is simply Not ‘Either/Or’. Renewable energy sources are fickle, and we ‘down-size’ them so as not to Overproduce from the abundance when the source is abundant. Using that ‘overproduction’ in a useful way seems common sense to me. That useful way is shunting the excess to creating and storing H2, and nearly Cannot be square kilometers worth of batteries. The efficiency arguments fall flat when you see what it takes to pump water to realize a hydro benefit, but if that power generation is just being Wasted otherwise, then efficiency matters very little, hydro wins. IF (a big if) there is once enough H2 production from excess renewable output, then it may make sense to use Fuel Cells in cars and makes sense to investigate the technology. There are No stopper arguments here or in Nuclear power, simply technology making power more abundant and affordable. The furor and passion of anti-FC reminds me of the anti-nuke.. mantras are not informative, they are political. There will Always be wasted electrical generation, how can we use it for our benefit? MHO, create H2 with every spare electron. Please feel free to add me to your list of Stupid People,… Read more »

Just looking at the UC Davis paper you link it is based on some highly questionable scenario assumptions. Look at Figures 4 through 6.

Figure 6 has the retail price of a 100 mile rage EV at $60,000 in 2015, falling to $40,000 by 2020, and $35,000 by 2030.

The scenario they use, shown in Figure 5, assumes that EV sales will grow basically linearly between now and 2030 while FCEV sales will grow exponentially to more than three times EV sales by 2030. They then use this higher sales rate to project lower costs for the FCEV than the EV based on economies of scale!?!

In Figure 4 they have FCEV retail price debuting in 2015 at around $36,000 compared to around $42,000 for the 100 mile range EV.

I’m sorry but the methodology and assumptions in this paper just aren’t credible.

Lindsay, the thing is – it looks like they swapped the Prices:

On Inside EVS: “2016 Kia Soul EV: New Less Expensive “e” Trim Level From $31,950, New Colors.” And – “2016 Nissan LEAF: 107 Miles EPA Range – Full Specs/Pricing” – Nissan LEAF SL – $36,790
But – over on Autoblog –
“2016 Toyota Mirai starts at $57,500, lease for $499/month with free hydrogen fuel”

OK – the Free Hydrogen Fuel – is kind of like – Free Supercharger use, except Tesla themselves are Installing the Superchargers, and Toyota/Hyundai are bumming money from Governments to install their fueling stations, and they don’t seem to be that good at it – across the board, compared to the 508 Telsa Supercharger sites (with over 2,800 heads).

The other thing – besides the FCV coming in close to 60% higher than the $36,000 price, and practically right on the 100 Mile supposed EV’s Debut Price of $60,000; while there are 100 mile BEV’s that are already under the $42,000 Price by $5,000 – $10,000! (BMW Excluded).

Direct Story Links in my reply to this comment – Below!

2016 Toyota Mirai starts at $57,500, lease for $499/month with free hydrogen fuel:

2016 Nissan LEAF: 107 Miles EPA Range – Full Specs/Pricing: http://insideevs.com/2016-nissan-leaf-107-miles/
Nissan LEAF SL – $36,790

2016 Kia Soul EV: New Less Expensive “e” Trim Level From $31,950, New Colors: http://insideevs.com/2016-kia-soul-ev-less-expensive-e-trim-level-from-31950-new-colors/

the mirai is a hand-built automobile, like the bentley or rolls.

“Toyota/Hyundai are bumming money from Governments to install their fueling stations”

Haven’t we all had it with the typical giant multi-national corporation M.O.: socialize the costs, privatize the profits?

If Toyota and Hyundai want to bet the ranch on hydrogen cars, then let them pay for the infrastructure.

Until there is a FCEV that can do 0-60mph under 5 seconds and cost less than $80K, I won’t be even looking at them…

Then you want a FCHV with enormous battery capacity, which still drives battery R&D and battery economies of scale. In other words, you want what laptops, tablets, and phones want.

What do you do if there is no sun??

Now add tons of wind that comes in the 2-3 month time span and calculate how much the batteries cost.

answer = too much for much more than daily swings.

All you need is an elecrolyzer and some pressurizing equipment and bingo you just made your own fuel that you didn’t have to buy from Russia. You have increased your national security AND provided a natural gas blend at a cost less than batteries.

Answer=less than half the usable energy. Second Law strikes again.

Oh, unless you mean double-conversion of hydrogen as a storage method. Less than even that.

Using commercial scale equipment, you lose about 3/4 of the energy in the electricity used to power the electrolyzer and the compressor.

Using small-scale home equipment, as GeorgeS suggests, would be even more profligately wasteful of energy.

Sadly, some scientifically illiterate people continue to believe this is all just opinion, not fact.

Cost matters. Efficiency didn’t matter except as it effects cost. If you can build a bigger renewable system because the marginal cost of hydrogen storage is cheaper than batteries, and that bigger system more than compensates for efficiency losses, that system is the answer.

According to my back-of-the envelope calculations, the well-to-wheel efficiency of using gasoline to power gasmobiles is about ten times (10 x) as energy efficient as using hydrogen to power fuel cell cars.

And that’s not even considering how much, much more expensive it is, per car, to build hydrogen fueling stations than gas stations.

Good luck with trying to handwave away these realities, which are all directly or indirectly a result of the physical properties of hydrogen. You can’t find some clever way around the physical limitations of those properties. Hydrogen will always be hydrogen, and will always have its physical properties.

As Elon Musk said, if you really want to generate fuel to use as an energy carrier, then at least pick something that makes sense, like propane. Trying to use hydrogen is just stupid.

A gasoline ICE vehicle is WTW 10X more efficient than a FCEV?! Put down the crack pipe. Your calculations are horribly wrong. No wonder you didn’t post your math.

I would be interested to see his calculations too but keeping in mind that EROEI for electrolysis of hydrogen is less than 1, possibly much less than one depending on your source of electricity, while the EROEI for conventional oil can be more than 50, I wouldn’t immediately assume he’s on crack.

No need to assume. Here are the WTW calculations for efficiency by the preeminent energy scientists at the world renowned Argonne National Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy from their GREET WTW analysis.



The WTW “Total Energy” to make the fuel and power a conventional ICE vehicle on gasoline is 6,000 Btu/mile, while the WTW Total Energy to make the fuel and power a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle with hydrogen is 7,300 to 7,500 Btu/mile for H2 from distributed electrolysis, a shade under 4,000 Btu/mile for H2 from steam reformed methane, and is 5,500 Btu/mile for H2 from biomass. The above figures conclusively prove that a gasoline ICE vehicle is no way near 10X more efficient than a HFCV. In fact, if the hydrogen is derived solely from steam reformed methane, the the HFCV is 1.5X more efficient WTW than a gasoline ICE vehicle.

Who do you believe? A peer-reviewed WTW analysis with calculations by the world’s top energy scientists at the U.S. DOE’s Argonne National lab, or the ramblings of a biased and anonymous internet commentor who doesn’t show his calculations.

Their logic is so laughably off.

Take Nat Gas, lose energy turning it into hydrogen? Lose more energy pressurizing it? Lose even more energy because hydrogen is so small it leaks through even the most “impenetrable” industrial tanks available?


Nat Gas stores at lower pressure, is more energy dense, and doesn’t leak. You’d have to be so unfathomably scientifically illiterate that I just don’t see how anyone, anywhere can sincerely think it is a good idea.

If there’s no sun, then it’s cloudy and we’ll have wind energy. If there’s no wind, then it’s a clear day, and we’ll have solar energy. If it’s dark AND windless, then it’s either night or a rare day, and these are the only times you need batteries to carry you through.

Needing long term intermittent energy storage is like needing a carbon monoxide sensor for a garage-less house with no gas line. It only _seems_ necessary.

That statement is demonstrably false.

then demonstrate.

It is indeed true that if you live in the north you will need some extra electricity for the winter, but that can be supplied by power plantsrunning on stored waste, wood and other renewable that can be stored during the other seasons and burned in the winter. You also obviously reduce all intense electricity consuming industrial activities like Aluminum production during the winter months and do maintenance in those mounts instead.

“Intermittent energy storage”

They’re called batteries.

Want to know what the cells in your body do for intermittent energy storage? How every neuron in your body fires? How mitochondria make ATP?

Charge differential aka… BATTERIES

Nice video. It is even more telling when the FCEV is compared to the top selling EREV.

On range, economy, fuel time, performance, GHG emissions, cost of ownership, and driving freedom, the Chevy Volt is the clear winner.


How many Mirai’s did Toyota sell since it went on sale in Japan in Dec-2014. Seems Hyundai sold < 200 Fuel Cell Tuscon CUVs.

Fuel cell does not seem to be any match to Batteries.

According to Green Car Reports:

“Production of the Mirai will start slowly, with just 700 to be built for global sale during calendar 2015, of which 400 are to be sold in Japan, leaving 300 for the rest of the world.”

The article also says “Toyota group vice president and general manager Bill Fay said the company expects to have sold 3,000 Mirais in the U.S. by the end of 2017.”

I find the latter highly improbable, especially since we’re already seeing multiple complaints from Mirai owners that the one (or in some cases two) hydrogen fueling station they were depending on to fuel the car have been closed for weeks or months.

Those who post comments to InsideEVs can ignore reality and continue to tell themselves that FCEVs can be practical, but those who have been foolish enough to actually buy one have to deal with the reality.

Full article here:

And Hydrogen needs to be compressed at 10K PSI or more. Over all wheel to wheel it takes 10 times more energy.

Can I use the graphics in my presentations about e-mobility ?

Thank you

Can we add weight per mile too?

How that compare?

Japan, which has little fossil fuel resources, is interested in hydrogen. Off peak nuclear power can be used to electrolyze seawater to generate and compress hydrogen. The capital costs of the plant are already sunk for electric generation. The hydrogen then is almost free, costing just a little fuel to do make and pipe the hydrogen to storage facilities. New research in thorium reactors show promise of nuclear systems which are fail safe, cannot melt down, generate far less nuclear waste and can burn the nuclear waste from existing plants as well. All the smugness of critics is misplaced. Time, research, innovation and hard work will take us to a future which cannot be predicted.

I can easily predict that the EROI (Energy Return On Investment) of generating, compressing, storing, moving, storing, and re-compressing hydrogen, all of which have to be done to make hydrogen fueled FCEVs practical, will always be about 10 times worse than using gasoline to power cars. Therefore, I can easily predict using hydrogen for that purpose will always be more polluting, and always too expensive to compete with importing petroleum or gasoline, even in Japan.

Your attempt to hand-wave away the enormous and multiple difficulties of using hydrogen to power cars may work in your mind, but sadly it doesn’t affect reality. For example: You can’t just pipe hydrogen from the generating station to the dispensing station. The physical properties of hydrogen make that impossible.

A large part of the perceived attractiveness of hydrogen is predicated on the availability of free electricity, either from renewables or nuclear.

Unfortunately both renewables and nuclear have high capital costs that must be repaid so electricity is never free, you have just shifted the cost somewhere else. If you build a nuclear plant that isn’t used to capacity then you need to charge more for the electricity you that you do sell.

It makes more sense to use the “excess” electricity to charge an EV than to produce hydrogen. And if you do produce hydrogen it makes more sense to use it to displace hydrogen that would otherwise be produced from natural gas than to use it in vehicles.

Why oh why are companies and governments spending ie wasting money on Hydrogen.
If we just spent a fraction of this on increasing battery capacity and better methods to quick / wireless charge, everyone would be out in front except the oil companies….
Hydrogen is going to be like the MD’s in the 50’s recommending smoking to clear the lungs.

I hope the people wise up to what is being played out and vote NO with their closed up wallets on Hydrogen.

Hydrogen Fuel has is place – in space or in a science museum on reasons why it is a terrible inefficient idea to power personal transport.

I can see fuel cells being used for trains and container ships but not cars/trucks. Tony Seba has the best comparison.
It seems Toyota/Honda are behind regarding EVs and want to leaf frog EVs. It won’t happen. Or they have teamed up with the oil companies so you still have to go to a fueling station and pay money for fuel. I prefer to plug-in at home and charge with solar for 100% of my urban driving.

Not to get all counter-strike cat or anything, but hydrogen wins. Impossible you say, ridiculous, ludicrous…etc.
But the sun, which supplies all the electricity derived from solar, is powered by the release of energy from the fusion reaction of hydrogen converting into helium.

Have fun going to the sun. Pack cool clothes. Bring LOTS of ice.

Key word: fusion.

News flash: cold fusion was a hoax!

insideevs wrote:
“We clearly understand some advantages of FCV (like long range, quick refuel), but we don’t understand how some large manufacturers expect to overcome obstacles and disadvantages (for example price of cars, price of hydrogen and lack of infrastructure”
what i think you don’t understand is that people have to *buy* these things, because if they don’t then you don’t have an economically viable offer. what i think you don’t understand is that it is a hard sell to convince people to go from a 5 minute refill to a 1 hour (or more) recharge. what i think you don’t understand is that it is a hard sell to tell people: “just trust us, you’ll be able to meet all your charging needs from home charging”.

it’s fine to use this forum for technical debates over BEV vs FCEV. but automobile manufacturers are economic entities; they have to consider other factors as well.

What about considering the biggest automobile market for year’s to come?
China, this is it and guess what, they have ban hydrogen or fuel cell of their means for cleaning up the environnement.
So BTW, Toyota, Hyundai and co do produce BEV for that market.
So I guess a large number of people(China) have understand that BEV is in fact a better sell.
What’s left for economic entities?

it makes perfect sense for auto makers to produce cars for specific markets, they do it all the time.

Even FCEV propaganda can sound pretty smug.

This is about the only time you’ll find me completely agreeing with Musk.

As he says in so many words: If you’re going to be deriving fuel from Natural Gas, just use the natural gas directly in the car, or truck, or bus. There are plenty of proven examples of them. But to go through all the complication and headaches with hydrogen is silly because it will ultimately be too expensive, and Electric Cars and CNG vehicles are ALREADY more modern than anything planned for hydrogen vehicles.

if the objective is zero emission vehicles then natural gas won’t get it done because natural gas vehicles still produce emissions. a better way to cut emissions by 20% or 30% would be the PHEV that replaces virtually all gasoline usage in typical driving scenarios. you’ll notice that elon musk didn’t raise that possibility. why? because the guys got wares to sell and he certainly isn’t going to want to promote PHEVs when he is trying to convince people to adopt BEVs. it’s easy for elon musk to suggest natural gas as an alternative because he realizes that there isn’t a lot of incentive to develop natural gas vehicles. the producer of the video is naive, he seems to believe that time will magically solve the problem of long recharge times with BEVs; by that reasoning you could also believe that time will magically solve the problems of hydrogen production. i’m not a big fan of FCEV but i understand why there is work on attempting to develop this option. for BEVs to become viable will require a massive infrastructure overhaul that will be at least as great as any required for FCEVs. for BEVs to become viable, reliance on… Read more »
None of what you discuss is necessary, even if you minimally accept your premise. Absolutely no new infrastructure is required: Purchasing a low cost used chevy volt many can afford and will be increasingly an option should gasoline prices rise in the near future. The default charging speed, used by apparently 55% of owners, myself included most of the time, is around 900 watts. Most garages or outdoor carport outlets can accommodate that rate overnight when little else in the house is on. And by charging overnight it increases the efficiency of central stations thereby lessening emissions on a per kwh basis. Most environmental groups, including the presitigious gov’t supported CleanCities group just LOVES anything CNG, LNG, propane, or biofuel, and looks to be that way for quite sometime. Including the one in Syracuse where I was yesterday, they seem to be supporting many ‘Drive Electric’ events across the US as Petrol-Canada is supporting the EV ‘Emazing Race’ across Canada. As far as using Nuclear Reactors in Japan to generate hydrogen indirectly using ‘excess electricity’, that won’t happen since the number of working reactors has gone from 52 down to 1, and that restart has produced many problems including pipe… Read more »
the chevrolet Volt is not a BEV, thus fast charging is not necessary. the Volt can use existing infrastructure. but the Volt is not a zero emissions vehicle. on the other hand, if you’re going to have to rely solely on a battery, you’re going to want fast charge capability. so if a consumer is considering an ICE vs a BEV, they’re looking at 5 minutes to refill the tank in an ICE, where a refill gets you 300-500 miles of range typically; if you want to approach that time in a comparable BEV you’re looking at a megawatt EVSE that will have to deliver hundreds of volts at the head. i’m not challenging that natural gas is cleaner than gasoline; but natural gas still produces emissions. if the objective is an automobile that produces zero emissions, then the current best options are BEV or FCEV. to my mind, FCEV is only superior in the respect that it can provide a refill time and range that are similar to an ICE. of course, “refill time” in an FCEV is a debatable proposition because if the hydrogen station can only refill 1 car per hour, then it’s not going to scale… Read more »
HAHA! Well all the Great Brains laughed about 5 years ago when I predicted the practical limit for charging a passenger car was around 150 kw. Tesla is coming close to that at 120 kw, but we can see recently that even this is causing some concern, what with angry owners saying Tesla is reneging on their deal which was “spend $2000 and charge for free, anytime, anywhere, as often as you like”, which of course, they are. If it was so cheap to provide an unlimited 120 kw service to people who had paid $2000 for the privilege, you wouldn’t have gotten Tesla owners upset by Elon’s letters he wouldn’t have written. I drove my Roadster around all over the place (42,000 miles worth), and I charged the whole time between 6 and 7 kw. Sometimes, as low as 1.5 kw, but that was with the car parked for over a day. Now I can’t drive coast to coast with this thing, but I was satisfied with the very long trips I could take without too much waiting and/or inconvenience. We will know more about how the typical family uses a BEV when the BOLT (203 epa miles) arrives,… Read more »
Funny how you see complicated issue where there is none. Charging time for one endless time is relative to the usage of individual. And it appear that it’s not that much an issue for a great number of people. I would say the majority, just drive less than 100 miles a day and do stay at home, or office where they have plenty of time to recharge. It’s my case and the case of many people that choose EV as a mean of some transportation. Now just imagine that if you double the range of EV as it seems like it eventually will. And consider that this initial limited trend has already suited more than half million people to jump aboard EV and it keep growing. Why bother with something that would give you no benefit? I just can’t imagine having to fix a problem on any FCEV car in your surrounding garage, beside having to depend on an inexistant expensive infrastructure to refill my car at an unknown price and having to do a detour fot that purpose. EV is so much simpler than an hypothetic superior FCEV. Just like you don’t have to knit your shirt every time… Read more »