Volkswagen has been tinkering with hydrogen for longer than I can remember. Yesterday, CEO Martin Winterkorn said it was all for naught. Hydrogen fuel cells are unlikely to become a cost-effective way to power cars in the near future, Winterkorn told Automotive News at Volkswagen’s press conference in Wolfsburg. He said it’s not Volkswagen’s fault:
“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. 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.”
Automotive News takes that as an indicator that VW won’t join a list of global automakers that want to roll out fuel cell vehicles in the 2015-2020 time-frame, among them Toyota allied with BMW, a Nissan-Renault-Daimler-Ford alliance, Hyundai, Honda, and more.
Instead, VW is seen to embark on a somewhat belated diesel plug-in hybrid strategy, while hybrid pioneer Toyota does not have a problem envisaging fuel cell vehicles at a reasonable cost. Two years ago already, Toyota’s chief engineer Satoshi Ogiso told TTAC that an affordable hydrogen-powered car in this decade is “his job.”