- June 1, 2023
Tesla and other firms are gasping for electric cars. The tech giant of today, Elon Musk has been busy rolling out new electric car models, however, there is more to automotive industry than battery powered vehicles as hydrogen cars are being sought after.
With the concerns rising about climate change and global warming, scientists are turning to renewable energy sources for transportation and hydrogen cars serve as alternate to combustible engines as well as electric cars.
Hydrogen Car Companies and BMW
BMW and Audi are now developing their own hydrogen powered cars although they are in the race for electric cars as well. What gives fillip to the hydrogen car future is the fact that Germany which happens to be a hub of automotive industry is already using hydrogen as fuel in multiple sectors. The German Economy and Transport ministries announced that they will pump in over 8 billion euros to fund large-scale hydrogen projects which number 62.
These projects form part of ‘Hydrogen-IPCEI’ which is a joint European hydrogen project. What would boost the hydrogen cars prospects in future is the fact that a party named Greens is in the polls and so the national political direction seems to be tilted towards the hydrogen car as well; this is primarily out of the concern for climate change.
If we talk about Hydrogen Car companies, BMW pops up as the leader and envisions mass production of hydrogen powered cars by 2030, just 9 years down the road. Not only that, BMW’s vice president announced rolling out fleet of 100 cars by 2022.
BMW has already developed a hydrogen prototype car on the same lines as its X5 SUV model; even this project was partly funded by the German government giving a glimpse of bright hydrogen car future and the intervention of government in this regard.
Another Hydrogen Car Company VW is not to be missed here as its premium Audi brand told media that a team of over 100 mechanics and engineers has been formed. This team is researching hydrogen fuel cells on behalf of the whole Volkswagen group; they have also designed a few prototype cars.
Why not to discuss all time hot selling Toyota here. The company is also planning to launch hydrogen powered car. As of now the Japanese automotive giant has to roll out a Prius and a Corolla by the end of 2022. What lends value to Toyota in fuel race is the success of its Prius model, a hybrid one. Toyota is planning to mix two of its technologies, hybrid and hydrogen to fire up vehicles.
All is not gloomy when it comes to hydrogen technology especially at Toyota.
Toyota’s Mirai Car
Let’s delve deep into Toyota’s Mirai car which generates electricity to power its motors through a chemical reaction. This reaction takes place between hydrogen and oxygen in the fuel cells.
The hydrogen engine vehicles like the upcoming Corolla are similar to old-fashioned cars with the difference that they burn hydrogen instead of gasoline. Same goes for the next generation Prius which will harness hydrogen to power its plug-in hybrid system.
Hydrogen Car vs Electric Car Differences
There are pros and cons to the debate about superiority of fuel technology. While electric cars need more time to charge, hydrogen cars can roll down the road in minutes.
Moreover, the cost of electric cars is less than that of hydrogen cars and technologists need to innovate more to bring down the hydrogen car prices.
Another difference between electric car vs hydrogen car is the fact that electric cars are already on roads like the one developed by Tesla and others while the prototypes of hydrogen cars are being developed right now. In a race to lessen carbon footprint, electric cars present a ready made solution.
The battery used in hydrogen cars is much smaller as it is recharged constantly while same is not the case for electric vehicles.
Another difference is the fact that hydrogen cars need new fuel stations for refilling while the electric charging stations are already available at the moment. In other words, hydrogen can be the future if electric is the present.
When it comes to the cost, the electric or hybrid vehicles are much economical than hydrogen cars but we can bank on the mass production to lessen the cost of hydrogen powered cars in future.
Another difference is the size of vehicles as the hydrogen fuel cell cars need space to fit in the hydrogen tank but same is not the case for electric vehicles.
But before we prefer electric cars, what about planes and ships and trucks. The hydrogen fuel can be used in those instead of electric cars for efficient and smooth transportation.
How does hydrogen car work
The electric motor is at the heart of a hydrogen car as they are powered by an electric motor. Due to the same technology, they are branded as e-cars. Don’t confuse it with any other electric vehicle.
The common abbreviation for hydrogen car is FCEV, short for ‘Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle.’ On the other hand, an electric car is termed BEV or ‘Battery Electric Vehicle.’
There is a clear difference between hydrogen fuel cell cars and other electric vehicles. The difference is that the hydrogen cars produce the electricity themselves and don’t get power from a battery.
Simply said, hydrogen cars carry their own efficient power plant on board in the form of the fuel cell in which hydrogen reacts with oxygen. As far as the source is concerned, hydrogen comes from tanks built into the car, while the atmospheric air is the source for oxygen.
From the fuel cell, there are two paths available for the electricity generated as under:
- It flows to the electric motor and energizes the car directly.
- It charges a battery, which is then used when needed for the engine.
Hydrogen Car Future
Having discussed the details about hydrogen cars, the million dollar question is:
What is the future of Hydrogen Cars?
To answer this, we will need to have a crystal ball but since we don’t have any, let’s analyze this. It is a fact that the world has to go to zero carbon emission stage soon and for that purpose, environment friendly transportation is a must.
Hydrogen cars would take some time to be on roads due to multiple reasons including:
1. Higher cost than electric vehicles.
2. More space needed for fitting in hydrogen tanks.
3. Safety concerns for hydrogen tank and uncontrolled reaction between oxygen and hydrogen.
4. Dearth of fuel stations for hydrogen cars.
Nonetheless, most of these concerns can be addressed for ships and trucks. For instance, space is not an issue for large sized vehicles. As far as the safety is concerned, crash tests have proven successful but more safety protection can be applied to large vehicles using the liberty of size.
We can safely say that the mass production of hydrogen cars would begin at a time when electric vehicles would be a norm. At that point, the maintenance cost might be tilting the scales in favour of either technology.