Hydrogen Car Fuel: 5 Pros and Cons: Price and Performance

October 31, 2012

Everyone is touting hydrogen car fuel as the solution to the growing crisis with fossil fuel. At some point, the world is going to run out of gasoline and need alternative fuels to replace it. As with anything, there are pros and cons involved with hydrogen fuel cells. Currently there’s only one car on sale that uses it for propulsion and the process needs plenty of work before it’s ready for the mass market.

Emissions

Hydrogen energy in vehicles mixes hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity. That means is produces zero emissions, and the car runs completely cleanly. That’s a huge plus, and gives it a great advantage over all kids of gasoline engines, including hybrids. IT offers what all scientists want in a vehicle with regard to emissions.

Mileage

The only vehicle on the market that uses hydrogen car fuel boasts that it achieves 60 miles for each kilogram of hydrogen, under all conditions. How typical this will be of hydrogen mpg remains to be seen. That wait might be long, as many auto makers have abandoned their plans for hydrogen vehicles after the collapse of the economy.

Performance

For anyone wanting extremely quick pick up in a vehicle, hydrogen car fuel won’t be too satisfactory. The acceleration is gradual rather than sudden, so it requires an adjustment of attitude. Currently the range of a hydrogen car fuel vehicle is very limited (around 250 miles). That makes it impossible to use for long trips until there’s a network of hydrogen fuel stations. These only exist in Southern California at present, which is the only area where the vehicle is sold. Until that range is increased, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can only have limited urban appeal, much like electric cars.

Price

The Honda FCX Clarity, which is the only hydrogen fuel cell vehicle currently available, leases for $600 a month on a three year lease. It’s not available to purchase. That price is up there with luxury vehicles, but these are early days for the technology, when prices are always higher. Once mass production does arrive, those prices will inevitably fall, although the prices are likely to remain high for a number of years. The result of this is that hydrogen vehicles and gasoline vehicles are like to share the road for quite a number of years to come as the new technology phases in gradually.

Viability

Research is continuing on hydrogen fuel cells. That they’re viable has been shown, but to make them work for the mass market is still something for the future. The same applies to electric cars. In both cases the cars can function as city runabouts, where speed and distance are not so important.

To make a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that can capture the average driver is a different matter altogether. It will need to be reasonably priced, with virtually double its current range. There will also need to be a national network of hydrogen filling stations, with the cost of the hydrogen significantly lower than gasoline.

Comments