Toyota Alone In Bed With Hydrogen As EVs Take Control

1 week ago by Mark Kane 98

Toyota Mirai

Toyota Mirai

Toyota is more and more alone in the hydrogen fuel cell camp, as other manufacturers turn towards battery electric vehicles.

The Japanese automaker spent tons of cash and time (since the early 1990s) on the research and development of FCVs.  Today, it must continue to decide whether to invest even more in both the infrastructure roll-out and vehicle development.

Toyota Project Portal Hydrogen Fuel Cell Semi Truck

Toyota Project Portal Hydrogen Fuel Cell Semi Truck

Performance of hydrogen-powered vehicles is less than desirable, while prices are extremely expensive. Added to this, there is no refueling infrastructure for mass-adoption.

Toyota has yet to have any notable sales success related to the technology. The automaker delivered just ~4,500 Mirai since late 2014. U.S. sales of the Mirai have just exceeded 3,000.

Keep in mind that Toyota’s Mirai has outsold all other players in the FCV camp. It’s reported that Honda shipped less than 700 Clarity Hydrogen Fuel Cell (in about a year) and Hyundai has sold around 900 Tucson Fuel Cell (since 2013).

Toyota’s goal to achieve sales of 30,000 FCVs annually by 2020 is highly doubtful (BEV targets for single models already exceed 100,000+).

Toyota is really the only automaker still banking on the tech. Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo expects that near-term EVs will proliferate faster. Hyundai Executive Vice President Lee Kwang-guk called EVs the “mainstay” of the lineup, and VW CEO Matthias Mueller didn’t put much emphasis on FCVs when describing Volkswagen Group’s future electrification strategy.

Plug-in cars — battery-electric in particular — are easier to introduce both on side of car manufacturer (though some are faring better than others), as well as in terms of available infrastructure, which is growing rapidly. Meanwhile, there are only 91 hydrogen stations in Japan and around 30 in California. Studies show that consumers are also beginning to show much more interest in plug-in vehicles, and the numbers don’t lie.

Source: Automotive News

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98 responses to "Toyota Alone In Bed With Hydrogen As EVs Take Control"

  1. reader says:

    Toyota, take this tech and run fast for trucks, semis, aviation, heavy equipment, long haul buses etc. I.e. anything that needs long range and can absorb the capital expense.

    Pushing this in passenger vehicles is dumb, losing proposition

    1. mx says:

      Too late for that too.
      Tesla Semi: Cheap operating costs.
      BYD Buses: Same.

    2. Brian says:

      Agree with much of what you said except that they need to push everything fleet. The fuel cell business model (at least Toyota’s) assumes that government’s will provide a national fueling infrastructure at no cost. This won’t happen as EV systems cost only a fraction. Toyota has now got egg on it’s face. Also not included in their losses is the decade of marketing and lobbying a failed project.

    3. SJC says:

      Hyundai and Honda/GM both have FC cars/SUVs.
      Nikola has an FC semi.

      1. rey says:

        And they all will be just about DOA! FCVs the Rbue Golberg Machine of the Automotive world ,and Hydrogen the fuel of the future ,that’s what they have been saying for decades

        1. Hydrogen ‘Atoms’ are seldom free in nature, to meet up with another one, and form a bond, to create Hydrogen Molecules (Hydrogen Gas, or H2, for the Wizards out there!), hence the talk of ‘Hydrogen is the most prevalent item in the universe!’ Is – while ‘Technically’ probably true, it is just useless information, when, for marketing purposes, the fact that it is not available as H2 Molecules, but as part of a complex coumpound, all bound up, is not included in the conversation!

          Hydrogen is, for the most part, the most willing Hostage, to so many other reactive Atoms, as it is easilt bound up in those other compound Molecules, in the forms of compounds we pass by frequently!

        2. SJC says:

          You seem to like making strong statements anonymously.

      2. jelloslug says:

        And none of them are anything more than engineering exercises.

      3. Pure electrics will saturate at 3-5% of market, despite the pushes and nudges from govts.
        Hydrogen, I can at leaset see a pathway, albeit a slow one.

        1. Gerhard Hauer says:

          Wrong, and doubtful.

        2. Asak says:

          Why would that be the case? Who really wouldn’t want a car they never have to take to the gas station? It runs 200-300 miles a day, day in and day out.

          The road trip thing is really overrated. Hardly any actual driving miles are spent on road trips. I suspect I’ve driven more miles on road trips than many people do in the entire lives (12,000 plus miles and counting) and I still own nothing but EVs.

    4. Mint says:

      Even non-transport applications make much more sense than passenger cars.

      Build cheap peaker plants that use solar powered on-site electrolysis for fuel. Natural gas peakers cost >$400/kW, but fuel cells have to hit <$50/kW to be economical for cars.

      Build similar backup generators for those who want to go off grid. That way they don't have to use gas or diesel.

  2. Mikael says:

    Even when Toyota do hydrogen they are doing it wrong. A 20 kWh BEV with a 30 kW fuel cell stack as range extender might have had a chance.

    Hydrogen is in general a joke, not even being able to plug in the Mirai is a much worse joke. And not the funny kind.

    Even Auris/Yaris/RAV4/C-HR PHEVs would make me very happy.

    1. Lamata says:

      I wish Toyota would help the poor & needy with all this money they’re throwing away on something that makes “NO SENSE” . I know Toyota is money Rich & can afford to throw Away Good Money at a Bad Idea . IMO, There is No Real, or valid Excuse for all this Meaningless Waste . Unless maybe it’s all for “Corporate Politics”.

      1. rey says:

        Toyota is not a charity ,but they are asking for it ,they want help in funding the Hydrogen fueling stations.LOL Ps. picking the wrong horse and now asking for help .HA- HA-HA

      2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

        Toyota was making “NO SENSE” things since historic times. It is corporate culture.

        “Throwing away on something that makes “NO SENSE”” on quality control and reliability. Why would you need quality and reliability when everybody buys all the American trucks and big cars anyway? You need to sell power & patriotism, not quality, than you can earn on repairs too!

        Throwing away money on these smallish econoboxes that create no profit but provide fuel economy. Why don’t just make big profitable cars and trucks? Everybody at GM & Ford was laughing at Toyota for decades. At least until they went under in economic downturn.

        Then these “NO SENSE” hybrids. Invested billions in some foolish hybrid R&D instead of V6, were selling tiny numbers for years before it scaled up! What a foolish waste of money!

        Now these foolish “NO SENSE” zero-tailpipe fuel cells. Who needs them, fossil fuel provides plenty of cheap dispatchable electricity, and you can put PVs on your garage and feel clean & green?

        Toyota foolishness has no boundaries. It is beyond my comprehension how they manage to sell 10 million cars per year and stay most profitable automaker. It definitely must be some Big Oil & Koch brother conspiracy, I have no other explanation :/

    2. HN says:

      @Mikael, “not even being able to plug in the Mirai is a much worse joke.”

      Simple solution: Buy a Mirai then move to California and buy a house near one of the hydrogen stations.

      The only problem is the housing cost in California is a little high.

      1. Jason says:

        Epic fail! Buy a house away from the fuelling station so you have a reason to drive that distance to refuel. BEV can easily do your normal, local commute, it is the long distance stuff that is the problem. So living next to the fuelling station and then not having any fuelling stations on your long trip is basically the same problem you have with BEV, how was FCEV and better?
        Of course it is the catch-22, you need the fuelling station near home and at the longer distance. With BEV you can refuel at home and only need the recharging stations at long distances.
        Just let’s say FCEV vs BEV does not make much sense. FC refueling station cost $2-$5mil vs EV charger costing $50k-$150k per stall (for one FCEV station you can build between 13 and 100 stalls compared by highest FC cost and lowest EV cost). Then you have the relative efficiency of making H2 from electricity or just putting that electricity straight into the battery. Then you have the on going cost of transporting H2 vs the almost permanent cost of the wires transmitting electricity. And lastly you have the mechanical overhead of the FC station vs the arguably less maintenance overhead of a bunch of electrics in the EV charging station. And the real kicker, for those of us in a house, you can easily refill your EV at home for very cheap cost (power plus some sort of EVSE is so cheap it should be criminal).
        Oh, and BEV can be delivered easily to 3rd world countries using renewable energy and they are virtually maintenance free, which I doubt will be the case for FC in the same environment.
        FC appears to be the “business as usual” model and EV seems to be the “what could we really do if we had a clean slate?” model. Majority people subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, so FC might make sense to them, but once you drive an EV you just realise how poor things are in the business as usual world. First gen EV didn’t have the range or recharging stations, just like FC, but next gen EV now has the range and recharging stations, unlike FC (remember that min $2mil barrier to build an FC station vs min $50k? Makes a real big difference).

  3. AnonyMouse says:

    Toyota alone in bed with hydrogen?

    Nope. Like Toyota, Hyundai firmly believes in the future of hydrogen FCVs:

    “Hydrogen cars to be cheaper than EVs by 2030, says Hyundai”

    “HYUNDAI predicts 2030 will be the tipping point when hydrogen powered cars achieve price parity with EVs and begin to enjoy mass-market sales penetration.”

    Hyundai’s perseverance with hydrogen as a fuel of the future has seen some experts criticise the company’s lagging EV development, though the VP of Hyundai’s eco technology centre, Kisang Lee, told Wheels hydrogen remains the most viable fuel source for the future due to its long range, zero emissions and fast refuelling times.”

    “‘The ultimate goal in the eco-friendly vehicle is hydrogen,’ said Lee. ‘We are doing pure electric vehicles, but we are prepared for hydrogen to be the next future. Around 2030 the system cost of hydrogen can be more comfortable for pure electric vehicles.’”

    . . .

    “‘In the long term these two technologies can be co-existing. In [situations that require] big distances, hydrogen can be a big benefit, but in a city where distances are less than 100km, EVs are very beneficial.’”

    Hyundai also firmly believes in the performance potential of hydrogen FCVs:

    “Hyundai N exploring hydrogen performance cars”

    “IT SEEMS hydrogen fuel cell vehicles mightn’t just be about saving the environment.”

    “Hyundai has expressed an interest in the strong performance potential of hydrogen fuel cell technology, with the boss of the company’s expanding N division, Albert Biermann, saying a hardcore, track-focused hydrogen car is a possibility.”

    “Speaking to Wheels at the Detroit motor show, Biermann said his team is already exploring the performance potential of hydrogen drivetrains, though admitted the programme is still in its infancy.”

    “Biermann says that while electric powertrains are the N division’s focus in the short term, hydrogen is a more logical alternative for the future.”

    “‘Hydrogen is just a matter of time,’ he said. ‘The time will come when people [will] understand, ok, EVs [alone] won’t work. Now we are more looking into EV, but yes, hydrogen is definitely on the list.’”

    1. mx says:

      Higher and higher speed electric charging is killing the only advantage hydrogen had.

      Secondly, if you have to convert methane or electricity and water into hydrogen, you’ve already lost. — Physics & Economics.

      The problem is Japan is a Top-Down society.
      The old guy at the top is usually surrounded by YES men.
      They don’t get the market message, or the economic or physics message as long as the project has CEO support.
      Translates into: Corporate Disaster.

      1. Tim Kulogo says:

        Exactly. Someone showed their Model 3 charge 125 miles in 15 minutes. The Semi will do 200 in the same time. With the battery size and cooling that’s expected on the roadster, it could be receive around 300 miles of charge in 15 minutes, assuming the chargers are available to do it.

      2. Paul Stoller says:

        The only place hydrogen makes any sense to me is in a stationary application. For example, excess renewable power could be used to generate hydrogen that is then mixed into the natural gas supply to be used for electricity generation.

        There are some pilot projects in Germany looking at doing this and I think it could perhaps have a chance at working and being economical.

        That being said, if battery prices continue to drop as they have been then battery storage might even makes this a pointless exercise.

        1. Prsnep says:

          Why not just put the excess hydrogen in a car?

          1. Paul Stoller says:

            Because it’s more efficient and you don’t need to build an incredibly expensive hydrogen distribution system. You are leveraging the strength of the existing electrical and natural gas distribution systems we already have.

          2. menorman says:

            Why not just put the excess energy into a battery?

            1. Jeff Songster says:

              Just take the electricity you are about to put into an oil refinery and put it into cars directly and the cars will go further on that electricity directly than after using it to convert crap oil into crap polluting fuels.

              1. Doggydogworld says:

                That’s a myth, please don’t repeat it.

                Refineries use a lot of low grade heat energy. They use very little electricity. Some generate their own electricity and export it to the grid.

        2. sola says:

          Synthetic H2 and methane are for deep/seasonal storage for which batteries are not economical in the foreseeable future.

          I expect that we will not have more battery capacity than a week even when we near 100% RE penetration and the rest will be P2G hydrogen and methane.

          The roundtrip efficiency of H2 with SOFC cogeneration is at 70% which is very good for seasonal storage.

    2. Jason says:

      Maybe we will see a similar situation to what we see today, eg: a BEV for around town and local trips, and an FC for long range replacing the ICE.
      I still think FC will fail because of the distribution costs. EV recharging cost is sort cheap. Just look at the figures, if you spent $2mil to build the FC station and it can make 160kg per day that fills 32 cars at 5kg per fill (it might be more or less, doesn’t matter). Ok, that same $2mil can make 13 $150k EV recharging stations, which can recharge an EV in 30min (to 80%, which is the usual measure) 24/7 so that is potential 624 cars per day. This is just the costs to recoup your infrastructure, no costs for actually making the “fuel”. Let’s say these costs are amortised over 10 years. FC can refill 116,800 vehicles which is $17/fill. EV can refill 2.3mil vehicles which is $0.87/vehicle. You haven’t even added the cost of the “fuel”, where FC is something like $10/kg and electricity is somewhere like $0 20/kWh on average. So the FC is costing $67/fill ($50 H2 + $17 infrstructure) and the EV (based on 100kWh battery to 80%) costs $16.87/fill ($16 electricity + $0.87 infrastructure). These costs do not include and margins, overheads, etc. So they are going to realistically be much higher than this (sorry I don’t have any figure about ICE, but if you took an average 7.5ltr/100km and an average 500km distance, then the price for me would be 37.5lt at your petrol price, which for me is $1.30 or $48.75, it’s not exact but it gives a bit of a picture).
      We all know there is not 100% occupancy at the service station, so let’s leave FC at 100% and assume EV over an 8hr day, that’s still 759 recharges or $2.63/fill.
      There are projections that H2 manufacture could be $5mil and give 1500kg, which could fill 300 vehicles per day, but that same $5mil could build 33 EV stalls and recharge 1,584 vehicles (or 528 if we limit it to an 8hr day). The EV stalls can be anywhere or clustered together, the FC is only in one place. Also consider that the FC can recharge in 5 minutes but the H2 can only make (best case) 1500kg, so it takes 25hrs to fill 300 cars at 5min intervals, where as the EV recharging is all happening in these calculations because it is based on 30min to 80%. If you take the worst case then 160kg is consumed in 32 cars in just 2hrs 40 minutes, so to service the potential 8hrs worth of cars you need 3 H2 plants. With FCEV not only do you have incredibly expensive H2 manufacturing plants but most likely very expensive distribution and outlet infrastructure, whereas EV just have the recharging stall and relies on the existing, or developing, electrical grid (and before people jump on me about that, making H2 also uses electricity which for this example is still the same electricity grid the EV is using).
      If a dummy like me can do 10 minute math and see how FC stacks up compared to EV, why are they still pushing along this path?

      1. Bill Howland says:

        I don’t think it is quite as bad as you are saying, but point taken that Hydrogen Technology is being pushed to the limit of the current State-Of-The-Art.

        I just wonder about the very expensive Dispensing stations, the currently over $3/kg dispensing cost, the poor reliability of the station itself.

        If all those issues could be adequately addressed, then perhaps there is a place for H2.

        I just dont think anyone in my generation will live to see it.

        Someday, but not yet.

        1. Jason says:

          Thanks Bill, I’m just using data I research on the internet. No doubt costs will come down, but right here and now those are the costs that I can find. I think it paints a very interesting picture.

  4. The Dude says:

    This book talks about Toyota teaming up with Exxon.
    If many cars are powered with electricity Exxon will lose. Now if somehow they can be powered by hydrogen, then Exxon can be still in the game because most hydrogen currently comes from natural gas.

  5. AnonyMouse says:

    Toyota expects the cost of fuel cell and related components to fall by 75% and cost of a HFCV to be the same as a hybrid by 2025.

    “Toyota Motor plans to slash the cost of the key components of the zero-emission cars by more than half for a new model slated to launch in 2020 or later.”

    “Plans call for reducing the cost of the fuel cell system and other components further after the next-generation model is launched, cutting those costs by three-quarters around 2025.”

    1. mx says:

      The investment money is now in Battery Tech for two reasons:
      1) Cars/Trucks/Buses/Planes – battery market.
      2) Storage: Solar & Storage, Wind & Storage, and just Grid Stabilization: Pays MONEY.
      The sub second response time of Battery on the Grid cannot be matched by hydrogen. So, the Investment money is moving where the vast future market will be. It won’t be hydrogen.

      The economy is Multi-Variable.
      You cannot dictate the success of hydrogen.

      But, look at Toyota’s failure in EV’s and the under spec Prius Prime.
      Toyota Needs New Management.

    2. rey says:

      The Hydrogen will never be free, with Solar you can get free electricity,the Storage tanks a pumps and elec to store HY.cost big bucks that’s why Toyota is asking for help,Duh.

    3. Jason says:

      Toyota might get the cost of the vehicle down, but the cost of H2 is still there, and the convenience of BEV still beats it, not to mention the efficiency of pushing power straight into a battery rather than the triple conversion required for H2.

  6. gab says:

    the companies don’t want to make an electric car because they don’t have control of the engine and batteries. that is why they want Hydrogen because they control the technology.

    1. mx says:

      Hydrogen is a Green Wash side show to keep the 3% environmental buyer happy. But they’re not fooled. So, it fails in it’s goal.

      The goal was always to drag out change to 20 years into the future.
      That now spells Bankruptcy for Ford and Toyota, possibly VW and Honda too.

    2. jelloslug says:

      Nonsense, you still have all the components of an EV in an FC car, just with more stuff added to it.

      1. And we need this more stuff added, taking up our usable space, why? Because we are impatient?

        So, fuel cell vehicles are just appealing to human impatience, with their pitch that they fuel faster than EV’s?

        What is the speed of a Mirai going from Long Beach to Grand Ventral Station, in New York? (Without a Mobile Semi towed H2 Refueling Station Following it?)

        I could Drive a Smart ED on that trip, with planning and patience, but there is no possibility the Mirai will be able to do that, anytime in this, or likely, the next decade!

        At $44,000 (or soon to be), the Long range Model 3 has already been driven more miles outside of California, in a single one-off Model 3 produced, than (Most likely) All the Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai FCV’s, Combined!

        So, if only California is the place to use them, they are the narrowest, non-solution, to a non-problem, than anything!

        But, with a FCV, you don’t need to change your habit of supporting big oil, at least! How very corporate of you!

        1. Ooops! ‘Grand Ventral Station’ => Grand Central Station!

    3. Jason says:

      Um, that’s not true. Any company can invest and create these things. I’m pretty sure Tesla makes their own motors, they just partner with Panasonic to make their cells (most likely they have some solid agreements so that Tesla retains rights over any developments they jointly make). Nissan had their battery plant but seems they made a mistake and rather than fix it they sold their stake (I think they will realise they made a mistake in coming years).
      And I doubt the traditional car manufacturers will make H2, they pretty much made it clear they are not in the business to create that infrastructure.

  7. The Dude says:

    Currently the tax payers in Cali are funding Toyota’s fueling stations. We shall see if Toyota/Exxon win or if plug-in vehicles win.

    Efficiency is on the side of plug-ins.

    Time will tell.

    1. mx says:

      Call your Rep and DEMAND that CARB Cut Funding of Hydrogen.
      Put that money to electric charging highways, and city centers, where it will REALLY Be Used.

      1. rey says:

        Amen to that,tell Toyota no Pogey for them .

  8. Someone out there says:

    I am not completely convinced on hydrogen cars but I also don’t dismiss them outright as some commenters here. Yes sure they are less energy efficient than battery cars but that might not matter in the future.

    If we are to have a completely renewable future we are going to need an enormous amount of energy storage to smooth out periods of low generation. That also means an enormous overbuild of renewable generation. Pumped hydro can handle a little bit but it’s not nearly enough, we are going to need either battery banks or hydrogen. Of these two hydrogen is the obvious choice. So in other words we will have a well built-out hydrogen infrastructure irrespective of hydrogen cars. In that perspective, using some of that infrastructure to power our cars is a no-brainer.

    1. Brandon says:

      You actually believe that hydrogen energy storage is as good or better (or ever will be) than battery storage??

      1. Someone out there says:

        Yes you can store vastly much more energy in the same volume with hydrogen than in a battery and it’s WAY cheaper per kWh.

        1. So, why isn’t Hydrogen the thing for an Off Grid House then? Even, one with Solar Arrays Plus Wind Turbines?

          At what ‘Scale’ (Translated: How Much of Our Money do You Want, to test your fantasy out?) Does ‘Hydrogen’ “Work?”

        2. simone says:

          sorry to breake your dream but hydrogen storage is more expensive and takes more volume than same performance battery storage

          1. Oriolus says:

            That was the most ridiculous and untrue thing i read today Simone.

            Batteries will occupy over 100 times more space an will cost 15 times more.

          2. zzzzzzzzzz says:


            Underground salt cavern storage is under $1/kWh. Been there for decades, not just for natural gas but for hydrogen on US Gulf Coast too.

            Please call us back when you will have any giga-batteries for $1/kWh.

          3. Well, well! We have got an assembly of hydrogen haters here today. I will give you a clue. The hydrogen tank is hollow. The battery is solid. If you passed high school math, you can figure out the drop in cost of storage as the capacity grows.

            Here is one more hint. Check out the number of cycles of charge and discharge in Tesla’s Powerwall warranty. Every time you pump the electrons in and pump them back out, you lose some capacity, and the cost of that capacity is quite high.

    2. David Murray says:

      I agree to some extent. If they can actually get the costs down to a similar price of a Prius, and if the fuel can be produced at prices similar to gasoline (on a per-mile basis), then I could see the FC vehicles having a future. But at the moment, I just don’t see that happening.

      1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

        You should see it in around 2025.

        FC system costs are well researched and industrial processes are known. Current cost may be some 2-5 thousands more than Prius at mass scale. It depends.

        By 2025 you will have this gap will be closed and it will be possible to go to full mass production.

        1. Asak says:

          By then we’ll have 300 mile BEVs at price parity with ICEs that can fully recharge in 30 minutes. The problem with FCVs and why they’re dead is because battery tech is advancing much faster, rendering the “backup plan” moot.

    3. rey says:

      FCVs are Foolcells Nobody wants Hydrogen fill stations in their backyard

  9. Jaime6T says:

    Complete rubbish. Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes and GM are all actively developing H2 cars, Honda on the third generation. Where does the author get this nonsense?

    This H2 hatred is coming from somewhere and one day we will all find out where. It is going to take more than just batteries to get off of fossil fuels and hydrogen bashers are a detriment to a green future. We’re watching and recording you all.

    1. HVACman says:

      You’re right. Dig deep and you’ll find the hatred mostly comes from engineers who only understand energy-conversion losses and accountants who only understand $/mile energy costs.

      It’s a vast technical/financial conspiracy against hydrogen.

      1. H2Rocks says:

        Look who’s finally come around to hydrogen and fuel cells – it’s Steven Chu, the clown that cut US funding for fuel cells in 2009. The reason that the US doesn’t lead the industry. What does he care anyway.

        When you get all your information from a glorified lithium battery salesmen you might be just a bit mislead. The truth is out there!

    2. Djoni says:

      Record all you wish, you won’t find any one source, but many well documented and educated peoples who can see bad from good.

      On the other side, if we track down were all this hydrogen propaganda come from, it smell gas and petroleum all the way to the end.

      No need to keep record.

  10. HVACman says:

    FCVS-to-BEVS is Stanley Steamer-to-Model T.

    The early steam-driven automobiles of a different manufacturer were called “Locomobiles”.

    FCVs should also be called Locomobiles.

    Because their entire concept is “Loco”.

  11. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    They aren’t going to let HFCV go. BEVs can’t yet address the whole market and the costs are still relatively high.

    Companies are committing more to plug-ins right now because of mandates, not because the technical and cost challenges are all solved.

    As long as there’s a gaping hole with trillion dollar potential then companies are going to bet on it.

    However, if companies are talking about something happening in 2025 or later, it means that there are a lot of crossed fingers. Solid state cells are another example of the same future tech.

    One of the key reasons that HFCV can easily carry on even though plug-ins have taken away a lot of the compliance market is that plug-in HFCVs have potential. That is, even if the fuel remains relatively expensive, if fuel cells become cheap and battery cells become cheaper, then PHFCVs become an obvious route to lower TCO.

    1. Jason says:

      I wonder how the fuel cell stack holds up in the PFCEV (plugin Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) if the 90% of driving is done on electric and the fuel cell doesn’t get used much. Is there any degradation of that system, corrosion, etc. as a result of it not actively being used?

  12. Brandon says:

    A couple things that hydrogen vehicles will never at all be able to do:

    1. Refuel at home or wherever plugged in.
    2. Use cheap solar generated electricity.
    3. Help the grid with V2G applications, and get paid for it.

    Never having to make a special stop at my local gas station is so the future!!

    Solar makes clean cheap energy.

    And Vehicle to Grid is a win win.

    1. Prsnep says:

      I disagree about your #2 point.

      It may very well be cheaper to store excess solar electricity in the form of hydrogen with some conversion loss compared to having to pay for large batteries.

      1. simone says:

        no , Fuel Cell are more expensive than batteries , storing extra energy with lithium batteri si cheaper than using fuel cell and hydrogern tank

      2. Brandon says:

        Letting along any form of storage, grid tied solar reduced electric costs significantly.

        1. Brandon says:

          *reduces costs…

  13. Fred says:

    Japan has electricity shortage. They were going toward nuclear but Fukushima accident got their population against it. Doubling their electricity production to support the transition to EV did not appear sustainable to them.

    Their domestic landscape made them chose the wrong horse. The transition to autonomous véhicule and abandoning the classical car ownership model will considerably attenuate the impact of charging time… think 400km then change car at a Waymo station.

    1. Mike says:

      The notion that there is a need to build lots of generating capacity for a BEV fleet sort of neglects the electricity that is needed to refine oil into gas. A rough estimate is 6kWh per gallon. Now consider the average car has a 15 gallon tank. That tank of gas already has consumed 15*6=80 kWh of electricity. That will power a Model 3 for probably about 350-360 miles. The same 15 gallons of gas gives a range of 25*15=375 miles (the 25 mpg is the average US fleet mileage).

      Ya there are some issues with this napkin math, but it does illustrate that you can basically replace the entire ICE fleet with little to no change in the total electric power generation capacity. Distribution and grid issues will need some investment, but it isn’t like electric companies were thrown into complete chaos when air conditioning became popular.

      1. Doggydogworld says:

        6 kWh/gallon is total BS. It’s actually ~0.2 kWh/gallon.

        “Flint Hills’ Pine Bend facility processes 339,000 barrels of oil a day”
        “The Flint Hills refinery requires roughly 120 MW of power, 24 hours a day to operate”

        120 MW * 24 hour/day = 2880 MWh/day = 2,880,000 kWh/day
        2,880,000 kWh / (339,000 bpd * 42 gal/bbl) = 0.2 kWh/gallon

        1. Great comment with actual data and link! It blew a giant hole through the misinformation.

          1. Bill Howland says:

            IN addition, to be fair, the most modern refineries are always making incremental improvements in efficiency, and are using most of the ‘low heat value’ gasses that they in previous years flared off, to make electricity thereby decreasing their utility usage, and heading more toward becoming a greater percentage wise self-powered.

            The current 1 kwh electric usage for 5 gallons of gasoline seems tolerable to me.

            My only point of concern is the current very high dispensing cost of Hydrogen.

            1. Bill Howland says:

              Actually the situation is even more attractive than Doggy’s analysis indicates since there is also the concept of “Refinery Gain”, namely that 42 gallons of Crude produces around 45 gallons of refined product.

    2. Get Real says:

      Unfortunately for Japan, going with H2 will only make their electricity shortage WORSE since it takes 3 TIMES the amount of electricity to make, pressurize and cool, transport and store and dispense the H2 then if they just used it directly into BEVs PER MILE!

      The solution is simple, start installing Wind and Solar and maybe Tidal generation along with starting to build pumped hydro (Japan is very mountainous) since it is now by far the cheapest and fastest ways to build new generation.

      1. Brandon says:

        Exactly! Well said.

    3. Asak says:

      How many people in Japan even drive? In the big cities you barely need a car, and like in all super dense metropolises a car may actually be a minus.

      I have doubts they’d have to double energy production to account for EVs. If they produced hydrogen power they’d use even more energy than powering EVs because it’s less efficient, so what sense does that make? You’re presenting an argument that doesn’t make any logical sense. The only way hydrogen would work for them is if they continue to import all their transportation fuel, like they already do. Is that really great being at the whims of the energy markets?

      Furthermore is their some reason solar and wind work less well in Japan than they do everywhere else in the world? Do wind turbines just shut off when they catch word of someone speaking Japanese?

      There’s only one real argument for FCVs and it’s basically that of people who can’t imagine anything different than what already exists. They stick a pump nozzle into their current car, so *clearly* the future has to be exactly the same.

  14. CDAVIS says:

    Article Title: “Toyota Alone In Bed With Hydrogen As EVs Take Control”

    Toyta is not alone…

    It’s no secret that the top-line execs at Mercedes strongly believe that Hydrogen Fuel Cell will long-term win over BEV..: that BEV is at best only a bridge gap solution towards hydrogen. That’s the primary reason why Mercedes is foot-dragging BEV development… they view it as a bump in the road to get to hydrogen.

    “Daimler focuses on battery EVs, keeps hand in fuel cells”

    1. Jason says:

      Sorry, how many FCEV does Merc have on sale? I’m not aware of them, only Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai have hit the main media here.

      1. CDAVIS says:

        @Jason said: :Sorry, how many FCEV does Merc have on sale?”

        Answer: Same number as BEV.

        Mercedes is more bullish on BEV than FCEV.

        “…Mercedes-Benz India managing director and chief executive Roland Folger said, ” By 2040, the whole world will be driving home hydrogen cars… ”


        1. CDAVIS says:

          “Mercedes is more bullish on BEV than FCEV.” should read “Mercedes is more bullish on FCEV than BEV.

        2. Jason says:

          Sorry, I didn’t see what models they have at the moment. Not really interested in fantasy future, they will all claim to have everything by 20xx, often going to 20xx+yy as we get closer to xx.
          They are the only FCEV I’ve actually heard being sold/leased. What is the Merc model?

  15. Spider-Dan says:

    Anyone who delights in the demise of FCVs is inadvertently cheering the continued relevance of ICEs.

    There is a huge portion of the market for which plugging in will not be viable for the foreseeable future, due to either logistics reasons (e.g. no plugs for curbside parkers to charge overnight) or financial reasons (DC charging costs kill the economic rationale for EVs).

    We are far, FAR away from a world in which 300 miles of fuel in 3 minutes is no longer needed. FCVs can compete with ICEs on those terms; BEVs cannot.

    1. Curbside parking can be dealt with by Cities putting in Induction Charging right at Streetside parking spots. Cars with Inductive Charging don’t create tripping hazards, too, and while charging might be less efficient than direct plugging in, it is still 2-3x more efficient than Fuel cels, and the tech is here, and doable, since 2015 and earlier!

      1. Spider-Dan says:

        And whom do you propose will pay to install curbside inductive chargers? Who will own and maintain them? How will the billing work? (Who will pay for inductive charging to be added to all EVs?) Electric utilities have been conspicuously uninterested in entering the EVSE business.

        When you propose paying to install curbside chargers across vast stretches of the country, you have obliterated the economic argument against FCVs. It would be cheaper to add H2 to every existing gas station than it would be to install curbside charging across the republic.

        1. simone says:

          induction charging point cost the same or even less than cheap AC charging point ( 500$ or less) , Hydrogen refilling station cost 200000$ or more and cannot serve the same numbers of car per hour ( it takes about 30 minutes to fill an hydrogen tank for 300km) DC charging is already doing similar performance and barrery still have room for improvement while the filling of compressed gas cannot go faster due physical limit

          1. Spider-Dan says:

            First, you are off by more than an order of magnitude on the H2 refill time. You can refuel 300 miles in approximately 3 minutes, which is very close to gasoline refuel speed.

            Second, the cost in running curbside chargers has virtually nothing to do with the cost of the equipment. You could install plain 120V AC outlets curbside and well over 90% of the cost would remain unaffected. The overwhelming majority of the cost in installing EVSE equipment (or outlets) curbside or on a surface lot is from the trenching that you have to do to run the wiring… and there is no way to get around that.

            Furthermore, unlike the markets for H2 production, solar panels, or EVSE equipment, the market for running electrical wires underground is fully matured. We are not likely to see any revolutionary cost-cutting breakthrough in trenching technology.

            And to answer a question from below: I expect that H2 stations would use exactly the same model as gas stations. They will be funded through a combination of a multinational energy corporation on the fuel side, and a local proprietor that owns the convenience mart. This business model doesn’t make sense for BEVs though, because charging takes far too long.

            1. RCM says:


              The problem with FCEVs is the infrastructure, it’s pretty much non existant in the U.S. It will cost too much and take way too long to build. The M3 already has over 300 miles per charge for the long range version today. Just imagine how many miles per charge BEVs will have by the time that H2 infrastructure gets built all throughout the U.S.?

              DC fast charging is only going to get faster, range will continue increasing all while prices continue to decrease.

              Sure you can say the same for FCEV tech but there’s that infrastructure problem to overcome. BEVs have too big of a head start in terms of price and a DC fast charging network.

              1. Spider-Dan says:

                Again, as I said: if you’re saying that FCVs cannot work, you are also saying that ICEs need to stay.

                Even if we set aside the cost of building more DC chargers, the cost of the electricity during peak daytime hours is not likely to improve; electricity costs are going up, not down.

                Is there a LOT of work needed to build out the H2 infrastructure? Yes. And that’s why people who want to eliminate ICEs need to advocate for various players to get moving on H2, instead of trying to undermine them.

                1. Asak says:

                  They have power lines even out in the middle of nowhere in AZ or TX. They don’t and never will have FCV stations. If the argument against BEVs is long distance driving, the FCVs are dead. I at least conceivably could drive a non-Tesla EV coast to coast, even if it took a while. FCV just ends up stranded in the middle. And that’s with very little investment in EV chargers so far.

        2. Roy_H says:

          Who will pay for H2 refueling stations? Curbside induction charging will be much cheaper and more convenient. When all parking lots have low level charging at all spaces including all underground parking for apartments etc. then gas stations will become obsolete.

    2. Jason says:

      So what happened to autonomous cars? What do I care when I can order a car to be waiting at the next charger, just jump out of one car and into the next one, <1 minute, even faster than ICE refill.
      I hate autonomous cars, their really going to disrupt things, every one will want to use them, I predict 10x as many cars on the road because all those long distance travelers car hopping and public transport users will now just call up their super cheap autonomous car and drive to work.

    3. Jason says:

      Curb side charging is an interesting one. In my city we have 59,745 dwellings and 1.9 vehicles per dwelling, so ~114,000 vehicles.
      Just for the sake of simple maths, let’s say each vehicle refills once per week, so that is 16,200 refills per day. One estimate of H2 station I read indicated 1500kg per day, and each vehicle has 5kg per fill (something like a Mirai), so that means 300 refills per day. We need 54 H2 stations to make enough fuel for those vehicles.
      This station was based on a cost of $5mil, so that infrastructure will cost $270mil.
      Ok, now the cost estimate to install a 100kWh combo charger is $150k, that might be high or low, out is hard to get those numbers easily. But that same $270mil could build 1800 DCFC chargers. At an average 30 minute charge to 80%, that means in an 8hr day you can charge 28,800 vehicles or 1.5x the number that the H2 station can achieve.
      Let’s change the equation a bit. If we only install enough DCFC to service the expected 16,200 vehicles per day, then we have $118mil available for curbside chargers, maybe low power solution 240v @ 15A, or even 10A. Based on $5,000 installation cost we can install 23,650 of these.
      Plenty of people will home charge, and some will be able to charge at work. Other businesses will most likely install as well, but you can see, even in a small city like where I live the cost of H2 infrastructure would be better spent on EV infrastructure. If we didn’t install the DCFC that would allow 54,000 L2 EVSE, which almost as many 1:2 ratio to vehicles.
      With an average cost of $1,000 per dwelling, we could install an EVSE into every dwelling and still install 900 DCFC.
      I don’t have feelings about H2 one way or the other, but cost wise it doesn’t stack up and owning an EV it is hard to imagine having to go to a service station again.
      Interesting to think about, isn’t it?

      1. Spider-Dan says:

        I see several problems with your math.

        First, the travel baseline you set for FCVs was refilling to max range (~300mi) once per week. You also said that BEVs would be DC charging to 80% once per week. But in order to get 300mi of remaining range by charging to 80%, you need a BEV that has 375mi of range. No such (consumer) vehicle currently exists.

        Second, you said that the BEVs should be able to charge to 80% in 30 minutes. Even if we use a Model S 100D (which has 335mi of range, not 375), it takes ~45 minutes to charge from 10% to 80%, which means your time estimate needs to be increased by at least half.

        Third, and most importantly: you have all the DCFC charging taking place in a perfectly staggered 8 hour window. That is… not realistic. With 45 minute charge times, the days of refueling to/from work are gone. You would see interminable lines in the evenings and on weekends. This is a primary difference between FCVs and BEVs: people will wait 5-6 minutes for the person at the pump and the person already in line to both finish. They will not wait 60-90 minutes for the same.

        Finally, your estimate to install curbside chargers is less than half of what it should be. Trenching is extremely expensive and the lion’s share of curbside EVSE costs. Installing EVSEs in a parking lot – where you can plan a centrally located transformer and minimize the trenching runs to your dual-charger EVSEs – can get as low as $5k per plug, but installing a row of curbside EVSEs down the length of a street is pretty much the opposite of that. Fiscally, you’d be better off just installing more DCFCs.

  16. MDEV says:


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