So, what really happened when two of the three hydrogen fuel-cell cars on Mercedes’s F-Cell World Tour ran out of fuel on an early leg? Previously we’d only heard the German perspective on events (not to mention Daimler’s non-telling of the story in the video above), but now TTAC Alum Jonny Lieberman has posted his extended take on the trip over at Motor Trend. Yes, you’ll have to give MT ten page-clicks to read the whole thing, but Lieberman goes into far more detail than any account of the mini PR fiasco yet published. Do give it a look.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles (FCVs) are enjoying something of a comeback lately, as everyone from Hyundai and Honda to GM and Daimler are talking about forthcoming production versions of test-fleet FCVs. And with EVs poised to both dominate the short-term green-car game and inevitably disappoint consumers, it’s no surprise that the perennial “fuel of the future” is enjoying a fresh look from automakers. But if high cost and range anxiety are the flies in the EV ointment, the FCV-boosters are finding their hydrogen cars tend to suffer from the same problems. Daimler says
By 2015, we think a fuel cell car will not cost more than a four-cylinder diesel hybrid that meets the Euro 6 emissions standard.
but that by no means guarantees its Mercedes FCV will be truly “affordable” by any reasonable standard, as diesel-electrics are considered one of the most expensive applications of internal combustion power. And then there’s the whole range issue. Yes, FCVs refuel faster than EVs, but even the most ambitious of Hydrogen-boosters, Daimler, are only pushing vehicles with a 250-mile range. Which is why we puzzled a bit over The Globe And Mail‘s assesment that
Three Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL models will make [a 125-day] global trek, which will seek to highlight the real-world benefits of fuel cells versus EVs – mainly their much further range
Flipping over to AutoMotorundSport, we find that the irony which completely escaped the G&M is threatening to overwhelm Daimler’s entire demonstration. And, as is only natural when things like this occur, there’s a bizarre TTAC connection…
More little steps on the hydrogen fuel cell front, part of the walk-up to the big 2015 launch: Hyundai signed a memorandum of understanding with Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland to supply hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles to public organizations in a pilot program, The Nikkei [sub] reports. Read More >
Yesterday, I changed my base of operations to Tokyo for a month to escape the Chinese New Year festivities (i.e. one month of WW III worthy fireworks, combined with closed shops and restaurants.) If I would have stuck it out a few days longer, I could have enjoyed a ride in a fuel cell vehicle. Read More >
EVs are the darling of the media. In Europe, the Leaf is the COTY. In the U.S. and Canada, the range extended Volt is the COTY. Then why are most big European manufacturers (except Renault) and most Japanese manufacturers (except Nissan) dragging their heels when it comes to wholesale electrification of their fleets? Maybe because they are working on wholesale adoption of hydrogen. As previously reported, there are agreements between automakers and governments in Europe, North America, Korea and Japan to prepare for the mass introduction of fuel cell cars by 2015. Japan is ahead of the game. Read More >
The majority of car makers the world over think that for the next five years, electric cars will remain too expensive to stand a chance in the mass market. Their saving grace must be government subsidies. Without government money, EVs are priced out of the market. Read More >
We are picking up more and more signs of an impending revival of assumed dead fuel cell technology.
Here is another one: The Nikkei [sub] says that the Japanese government is supporting an initiative to draw a hydrogen from a surprising source: Oil refining. And they need to be ready by 2015. Read More >
Major players in the industry think that EVs are a stopgap measure at best. Volkswagen declared that nobody wants EVs, except governments. In Japan, Toyota and Honda are talking louder and louder about hydrogen. There must be something better than plugins: A revolutionary technology that powers the car from a renewable energy source in an environmentally responsible fashion.
BMW just found what the world needs. Read More >
Here in LA Mercedes took the wraps off the Mercedes B Class F-Cell hydrogen fuel cell vehicle for the US market. Never mind that nobody sells hydrogen, but should you get your hands on some of the liquid gold, your B Class will go almost 200 miles on a tankful. Sales information is of course limited but Mercedes did say they would only be available in Southern California and that hydrogen fuel is included in the lease. So if you are lucky enough to find one available, let TTAC know how much your lease payment is.
If you want to offer hybrid cars, but don’t have the money / time / run rate / wherewithal to do it yourself, who’re gonna call? Toyota. But who would have imagined that haughty Daimler picked up the phone, dialed 0081, and said: “Let’s talk?” Daimler considers joining the growing list of automakers that source their hybrid systems from Toyota City. Toyota is in talks to provide technology and core components for hybrid vehicles to Daimler, after having been approached by the Germans, says The Nikkei [sub]. Read More >
YNN reports that the Rochester, NY airport was closed for 50 minutes yesterday, when a hydrogen refueling station run by GM supplier Praxair was rocked by two giant explosions. Details of the explosion are still extremely sketchy, with YNN explaining only that
Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks said it occurred during a tank exchange operation. Brooks said a driver from Praxair was doing the exchange when it appears that some type of arch occurred.
It’s not yet clear if GM’s Sequel hydrogen test fleet had been using the fueling station, but this is the most recent occurrence of the kind of disaster that has helped prevent the development of a large-scale hydrogen infrastructure. Two people were reportedly injured in the blast, but one can only imagine the result of such an explosion in a more urban environment, or in close proximity to a gasoline pumping station. The long awaited hydrogen future may have just slipped a little further out of reach…
There are already agreements between car makers such as ourselves and legislators in Europe, North America and Japan to build up to the mass production of fuel cell cars by 2015. Hydrogen production capacity and refuelling infrastructure will be improved. Pilot-scale production of 1000 fuel cell cars a year will begin for us in two years. Our first cars won’t be fully commercialised [they will probably be leased , not bought outright] but they will allow us to make the final stages of development progress before we begin commercial production of around 10,000 hydrogen cars a year in 2015
Toyota definitely keeps us on our toes. Last week, the tete-a-tete between Toyota and Tesla had the world speculating about an electric push by the world’s largest auto maker. That was last week. This week, it’s hydrogen. Read More >
Lithium-ion batteries aren’t the only automotive cleantech that appears to be getting cheaper. Toyota’s head of advanced autos, Yoshihiko Masuda, tells Bloomberg that the Japanese automaker has cut the cost of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) by 90 percent in the last five years or so. Mid-decade, Toyota’s per-car estimates for FCVs ran near a million dollars per car. With costs now closer to the $100k mark, Toyota says it plans to cut that number in half by 2015. If they can make that happen, Masuda says, a $50k hydrogen FCV will be on like Donkey Kong.
Which drive train will own the future? ICE, hydrogen, hybrid? BMW bets it will be all of the above. Autocar reports that BMW has mated a regular ICE with a fuel cell, electricity-storing supercapacitors and an electrically driven rear-axle. The reasoning behind this new type of hybrid is that BMW’s engineers believe that this power train will make the cars capable of switching to an emissions free propulsion system and switch back to ICE when needed. Now I know what you’re thinking at this point. “Cammy, aside from being the worst new writer of the year, why would anyone want to buy a car like this?” Well, the answer lies in Europe. Read More >