Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn Sides With Tesla CEO Elon Musk – Fuel Cell Vehicles Are a No Go


Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk went on record awhile back saying that fuel cell vehicles are “bullshit.”

Who Needs Fuel Cells When EVs Already Exist?

Who Needs Fuel Cells When EVs Already Exist?

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn echoes that statement, but of course he doesn’t use that word.

Instead, Ghosn says that, while automakers (mostly Toyota and Honda) continue to show off fuel cell concept vehicles, those vehicles have no chance of becoming a production reality until at least the end of the decade.

It’s The Non-Existent Infrastructure

Ghosn says that there basically exists no hydrogen refueling infrastructure (the US has a dozen or so hydrogen fueling stations) and, without that in place, fuel cell vehicles are a no-go.

Toyota claims its fuel cell vehicle will enter mass production in 2015, but Ghosn says that’s basically not going to happen:

“I would be very curious and interested to see competitors who say they are going to mass market the car in 2015.  Where is the infrastructure? Who’s going to build it?”

No infrastructure means no mass production.  Perhaps Toyota will make a few of these vehicles to prove it can be done, but there’s no way a mass-produced fuel cell vehicle will be here in 2015.  If it does arrive then on the mass level, there won’t be a sufficient amount of fueling stations to make it viable.

For the record, Nissan still sort of believes in fuel cell vehicles, though the automaker says the timeline for launching one has been pushed way back.

Again, with no infrastructure there can be no fuel cell vehicle.  Nissan realizes this, but Honda and Toyota seem to think this is an issue that can be overcome.

As for Musk, he says fuel cell autmobiles are absurd in that they’re too complex, too costly, too dirty and so on.

Source: Bloomberg

Categories: Nissan


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34 Comments on "Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn Sides With Tesla CEO Elon Musk – Fuel Cell Vehicles Are a No Go"

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“Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn echoes that statement, but of course he doesn’t use that word.”
He probably says “connerie”.

….and I know who would play Ghosn if a movie about him is made soon… the similarity is striking…

I’d like somebody to tell me what the benefit is. Right now we have electric cars that are cleaner, faster, longer range, and cheaper than a FC vehicle. And to top it off, the running costs are lower for electric (and gasoline may even be lower) so what is the incentive for consumers to adopt them?

Range is the primary, has you only need a bigger tank for greater range. And refueling is fast, if you can find a place where you can do it! But that basically it. On the other hand, fuel cells are terribly expansive. Toyota says it car will be between 50k$ and 100k$ (that’s a big range).

Electric car (with batteries) will probably have overcome those problems when the first mass market hydrogen car will be available.

Range isn’t much easier for hydrogen than batteries. For 300 miles, you need ~5kg of H2, which would need 25 scuba tanks (80 cu ft each) to store. At higher pressure (say, 10000 psi) you can reduce that volume, but then you either need thicker steel/aluminum or carbon fiber, and the stresses get a little scary. Mass is pretty low if you use advanced materials, but it’s basically impossible to store that in a space as convenient as Tesla’s skateboard platform. Then you have to worry about the fuel cell as well.

Refueling time is really the only advantage of the hydrogen fuel cell.

Range and fast refill time. Primarily the latter.

But the cost & benefit analysis just doesn’t work. They cost much more for not much benefit, a more expensive fuel, and a nonexistent infrastructure.

I have researched fuel cells and read a few books about the technology. Other than really exotic (not cars) uses such as satellites and military, there is no way H2 will drive a mass-market consumer vehicle in my lifetime. And I’m only half way there.

I like fuel cells… just not in cars. Give me a bloombox to power my house off NG.
(actually my electricity is pretty cheap, but its 50% coal)

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Costs for fuel cells need to come down by an order of magnitude to be successful in powering vehicles. $1/W is just ridiculous: it could be justifiable for a fixed use such as business or home power (perhaps combined with solar to handle peak loads) but if anyone thinks you’ll be able to sell or lease an EV with a $100,000 100kW fuel cell they’re nuts.

This is why fuel cells would never make sense without a battery. Picture replacing the i3’s 25kW range extender with a $25,000 fuel cell, and it gets closer. It still needs to come down, but not as far as you might think. Toyota has said that their 2015 offering will have a battery to make up for peak power needs.

Precisely. Fuel cells will be powering homes long before they power cars.

Sure, with a battery/supercap you may only need a 30kW fuel cell for a car, and it will only need to operate for a few thousand hours over a car’s life so operation related wear will be less of an issue, but otherwise $1/W will revolutionize distributed power way before it makes a dent in the auto sector, and there’s no size/mass constraints.

I believe the problem is that nobody has developed a cheap or easy way to “crack” the hydrogen out of natural gas, and thats pretty much a prerequisite for fuel cells for home use.

There is not really even a need to get that exotic. Generators that plug right in to natural gas lines are prevalent. The reason they are not ubiquitous as solar backups is that NG use to generate power costs more than electricity off the grid. Since (for example) PG&E here in California gets a substantial amount of its electrical power from NG, you have to ask yourself why that would be. And the answer is that central, optimized stations for generating power are always going to beat small home generators, no matter what technology is in use.

Don’t know about that Scott. Electric rates are half where I am compared to California in the summertime, and even with cheap electricity School systems were considering having their own gas powered generator, but then made a special lowcost deal with National Grid which is undisclosed. Several car washes also have Natural Gas generators (until recently, many of them didn’t even have utility connection ‘grid tie’).

If electricity rates were what they are in California, there’d be plenty of generators all over the place running on natural gas.

Of course PG&E I’m sure keeps the gas rates superhigh so Californians have no recourse.

Looks like Hyundai is going to beat Toyota to market – they are saying the Tuscon FCEV be at SoCal dealers in Spring 2014. Lease only, though – $20,963 (+tax) for a 36mo lease – hydrogen is included:

It will be very interesting to see how well these actually move.

I think the car company is putting massive amounts of it’s own money into these leases such as if someone gets one of these cars the company will most likely be poring $500,000 grand of it’s own money into it. As for the fueling stations I think hydrogen now is at least eight dollars maybe even ten for a gallon on the open market. But it could possibly even be $20.

You not only have a limited range, you have to circle the hydrogen filling station(s).

Oh great.

“Beat them to market”… but is there a market yet?

Sounds more like Hyundai wants to claim to be the first “production” FCV, for bragging rights, on the off-chance hydrogen eventually catches on…

(Meanwhile, sister company Kia develops EVs. Clever…)

The interesting thing is that right now EV’s are killing oil powered cars do to the fuel being a 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of gas depending on what area you live in and if you have solar it’s free. Now the car makers and the oil companies now want everyone to buy hydrogen cars which as of now have a fuel that is going to be $10.00 to $8.00 a gallon and needs a major factory to process it and a complex distribution center to move it around along with fueling stations that are at least going to cost four to five times as much to put in then a existing gas station. And not to mention if you think dealing with people smoking at a gas station is bad wait in till you see Hydrogen and how sensitive it is in being flammable. But the main thing I have with it is why should I go to a central gas station and pay three times as much as I do now when I can charge up at home for 1/4 the price I’m paying now. A part of me finds it morally wrong to mess around with turning… Read more »

You are exactly right.. EV’s will soon be encroaching on ICE vehicles’ MSRP and people will flock to them when they realize how much money and time they will save. But fuel cells offer none of the benefits of an EV to the driver and have nothing to really offer the consumer other than being more “green” which I don’t think people will go for.

I don’t see anything wrong with converting water to hydrogen. After all, it will eventually turn back into water again after being used in the car and combined with oxygen.

Solar is free? Wow, sign me up. I’ll take you at your word that I don’t have to pay anything for installing, maintaining and using such a system.

It can be free if you bought a house with a existing system or had a existing system that you originally set up to pay for your home’s electric bill. And then suddenly you find a EV you like for sale and buy it and take it come and now you have a existing solar system that you can now use to fill your car up.

Actually hydrogen is pretty safe. It is very light, and dissipates rapidly in air.

Ghosn, Musk and ………

Guess Who?


“[…]Gabe Nelson ~and Fumiko Soda
Automotive News
March 14, 2013 – 3:53 pm ET

WOLFSBURG, Germany — Hydrogen fuel cells have failed to live up to promises and are unlikely to become a cost-effective way to power cars in the near future, Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn said today[…]”

“[…]”I do not see the infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles, and I do not see how hydrogen can be produced on large scale at reasonable cost,” Winterkorn said through a translator when asked a question during a press conference here at VW headquarters. “I do not currently see a situation where we can offer fuel cell vehicles at a reasonable cost that consumers would also be willing to pay.[…]”

Via- Auto News


Thomas J. Thias

Hydrogen is big oil’s sad sad joke…

What we need is a “better battery” and all this distraction over fuel cells dies away.

Imagine if all of the R&D money that has been spent on the fuel cell scam had been put towards developing better batteries!

I remember watching TV programs on the Discovery Channel back in the 1990’s and in the early 2000’s that talked about how great hydrogen was going to be and it’s 2013 and nothing has really happened yet. While at the same time EV’s have seen to popped up so suddenly over the last year and now I’m getting to see plug ins every other day in my area and getting to see a few pure electrics every few weeks.

Fuel cells and hydrogen = joke of the status quo oil companies.
Money better spent on better batteries and super caps.

Also Volkswagen’s Rudolf Krebs echoed Carlos and Elon:

Hydrogen Cars Slammed By Nissan’s/Renault’s Carlos Ghosn & VW’s Rudolf Krebs

Only 10 public hydrogen stations currently exist. 9 are in CA. Hyundai basically has the world’s first fuel cell compliance car.

The competition for fuel cell cars is not EVs, but rather CNG. And CNG is a fleet or government operation right now. If you search for CNG stations right now you will find the vast majority of them are government fill stations or things like gas company fleet vehicle fill ups. For those folks, fuel cell conversion just means adding a hydrogen tank and a hydrogen fill station on the fleet parking lot. Thus if fuel cells have legs, that is where the battle will be fought.

All Fuel Cell cars will have battery as well.

So, technially speaking, all fuel cell cars are series-hybrid as well… They can be PHEV with a fuel cell range extender.

But it would be hard for fuel cell to compete against an ICE extender since the infrastructure is there and ICE is far cheaper to build than Fuel Cell today.