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…)
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…)
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.
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…)
It’s been said many a time that the problem with hydrogen as an energy storage system for cars is that it is always the future and never the present of transportation. Indeed, hydrogen has nearly fallen of the alt-fuel radar in recent years, as present-techs like hybrid and even electric drive have matured. But the dream is not dead. The great hydrogen hope now lives with General Motors, in the form of a new, lighter-weight fuel cell which GM says will be production-ready by 2015. The new cell is 225 lbs lighter and uses one-third less platinum than the systems being tested in GM’s 30-month “Project Driveway” Equinox fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs). That leaves more platinum for trimming Escalades, and has GM thinking that real-life series production of FCVs could be possible. GM’s Charles Freese tells Automotive News [sub]:
Our learning from Project Driveway has been tremendous. The 30 months we committed to the demonstration are winding down. But we will keep upgrades of these vehicles running and will continue learning from them while we focus efforts on the production-intent program for 2015. We will continue to use the Project Driveway fleet strategically to advance fuel cell technology, hydrogen infrastructure and GM’s vehicle electrification goals
Just when you thought hydrogen was dead, Honda comes up with a system that allows you to make homemade hydrogen, using nothing but free sunshine. In the grand tradition of hydrogen cars, the sunny technology is just not quite there yet. (Read More…)
The London 2012 Olympics promise to be a “low Carbon” affair. The London games will have everything from a low carbon Olympic flame to official energy provider EDF providing 24MW of energy from renewable resources. Even the official Olympic fleet is getting in on the “low carbon” act. What else is there to do? Right: The humble British Black Cab is getting the “low carbon” treatment. It’s coming from a source that had already been written off: Hydrogen. (Read More…)
Same as it ever was. Green Car Congress covers a DOE report (pdf) to the U.S. Congress on its $1.2b Hydrogen fuel cell development caucus, and the conclusion is clear: keep waiting. The DOE had harbored a shockingly naive hope that OEMs would be able to field 100k fuel cell vehicles by 2010, but the new report seems pretty clear on the chances of that happening. According to the report, “a 2008 independent study estimated that the high-volume manufacturing cost of automotive fuel cell systems (using current technology and assuming 500,000 units per year) would be $73/kW, which equates to almost $6000 for an 80-kW system. This current technology would be more than twice as expensive as internal combustion engine systems. And, based on the highest demonstrated durability to date, fuel cell systems would have a lifespan of approximately 1900 hours, which equates to about 57,000 miles and is still substantially lower than today’s estimated vehicular lifespan of 150,000 miles.” Sound familiar?