By on November 12, 2013


Fuel cells are back in the news, with Toyota revealing the FCV concept and Tesla CEO Elon Musk comparing fuel cells to bovine excrement. Now Hyundai says that they are preparing an electrically driven CUV powered by a fuel cell for a North American debut next year. Just before he was apparently forced to resign over quality control issues, Kwon Moon-sik, Hyundai Motor Group’s president of r&d,  told Automotive News that the Korean automaker sees fuel cells and not batteries as the future for EVs. He said that money is the reason, seeing greater opportunities to reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cells than batteries.

“There is no problem with the technology — only with the cost and profitability,” Kwon said of battery EVs. “We cannot make a profit with them.”

Besides Hyundai and Toyota, Honda, Daimler, General Motors, Ford and Nissan have announced plans to have more hydrogen powered vehicles on the road by the end of this decade. When Toyota puts the FCV into production, it will cost just 5-10% of the cost of their first fuel cell vehicle in 2007, which was said to cost the Japanese automaker a million dollars each. By 2020, Toyota predicts, fuel cell production costs will fall by half again.

Hyundai’s fuel cell vehicle will be based on the Tucson compact crossover, with plans to make 1,000 vehicles for sale around the world by 2015.

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17 Comments on “Hyundai Says Fuel Cells Will Be Cheaper Than Batteries, Will Debut Hydrogen Fuel Cell CUV Next Year...”

  • avatar

    no one is going to care. there’s no infastructure in place to refill fuel cells like there is for gasoline of electricity, which have effectively been in place for almost a century. the logisitics behind switching over to large scale transported hydrogen are almost comical.

    the little bit of me that is deeply paranoid still sees fuel cell vehicles as a deliberate distraction from electic vehicles; If they make ‘green’ vaporware cars, you might still go and buy a gasser.

  • avatar

    This was rehashed a million times before, but basically there are two problems:

    – Hydrogen is a horrible vehicle fuel due to its low density and other chemical and physical properties; there is no fix and it’s impossible to fix. A methane fuel cell could be a nice thing, but…

    – Fuel cells require platinum group metals and there’s no workaround. People who believe in fuel cells are even desperate enough to finance schemes to mine asteroids and the Moon.

    Hydrogen fuel cells are going nowhere, period.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, platinum is no longer needed as technology has progressed.
      But even when the technology for storing hydrogen safely and in useable amounts in vehicles, it would still be utterly stupid to build an extremely complicated and dangerous infrastructure of hydrogen fuel stations when there’s a power outlet to charge battery EVs in every home and office.
      Read my article on why hydrogen is not the future:

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    This is vaporware at its worst.
    Just to fool the public and government with a “green” image.

    In addition to the caveats listed by the previous posters, there is another one: there is no free hydrogen available here on earth. Either one gets it from water hydrolysis (an extremely inefficient process, energy wise) or hydocarbon reforming, on which one loses the chemical energy stored in carbon.

    100% stupid.

  • avatar

    Just like electricity, on Earth hydrogen is merely a carrier of energy from a primary source to an end use. Electricity is not energy in and of itself, you can’t go out and dig it up and hold it in your hand. Free hydrogen might be found on the sun- good luck getting hold of it. On Earth, you can get hydrogen from natural gas by stripping off the carbon molecules which takes energy, so why not use LNG itself and avoid the efficiency loss?

    It continually amazes me how the human race hypnotizes itself in order to inefficiently use “boutique” energy rather than the primary source. Just like the completely unscientific idea that transportation ethanol made from corn at 70% of the energy within it is wonderful. The dumb politicians who believe this didn’t do science or math after 9th grade because it “was too hard” and now lead all the lambs to slaughter, with a tra la la and a fiddly dee dee.


    • 0 avatar

      +1 Many of these fantasies have harmful costs and tradeoffs, as well.

    • 0 avatar

      “On Earth, you can get hydrogen from natural gas by stripping off the carbon molecules which takes energy, so why not use LNG itself and avoid the efficiency loss?”

      I wonder this myself. Not only does the fuel not require any real conversion, it works quite well with legacy technology.

  • avatar

    Sounds like we don’t have any takers here… no hydrogen makes no sense, nor does any other “green energy” the the government latches onto so quickly. But then why does anyone here buy into the idea that electric cars make any sense except for local driving?

    Infrastructure for electric cars? Not once you leave the driveway except with a very few exceptions. Is it green? Not unless you consider burning coal at less than 10% efficiency green. Even when and if we get around to natural gas generated electricity, transmission losses are 90% at the end user. Is this green?

    When we get around to LNG driven cars, we’ll have something to work with, but we’ll still need new infrastructure to support it except for local driving. Also, we’ll have to turn ourt heads when we hear about the fracking issues, but otherwise, it has a chance.

  • avatar

    Sorry, lots of nonsense in this thread.

    Corn-based fuel ethanol as currently produced in the US has a (slight) positive energy balance over the lifecycle, despite its lower energy content compared to gasoline, and you are producing it using abundant fossil fuels (coal, NG) to replace a less abundant one. It is not “stupid”, and it is getting less stupid all the time as efficiencies improve. Does it produce other undesirable externalities such as increased world grain prices? Probably. Can it replace a significant fraction of our liquid petroleum use? Certainly not. So, why not criticize it on those grounds rather than making stuff up?

    And seriously….burning coal to generate electricity at less than 10% efficiency? Where the heck does that happen in North America? Check your sources. I am sure you will find that the true value is in the 30 to 40% range, and that with more advanced technologies (IGCC), 50% is approachable.

    And “transmission losses of 90% at the end user”?? Whaaaat?

    Transmission losses are typically less than 10%. There are other *small* losses associated with AC/DC conversion and battery efficiency. Electricity delivery is pretty efficient, and once it is delivered it is used *much* more efficiently (by an electric motor instead of an ICE – think 85% vs 20%).

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not understanding how you figure the fossil fuel inputs for ethanol are limited to coal and NG. Growing corn takes fertilizer (petroleum based), harvesting and transport depend on diesel-fueled vehicles.

      My local paper today ran in interesting AP story about the environmental damage being caused by converting more land to corn production. Currently about half of the US corn crop goes to ethanol.

    • 0 avatar

      U.S. biofuel expansion has cost developing countries $6.6 billion in higher food costs, estimates Tufts University economist Timothy A. Wise in Fueling the Food Crisis,

  • avatar

    Thanks Mr. Duck:

    Now let’s hear you lay some brilliance on us… No rotten eggs please.

    Here is my take: Corn based fuel makes no sense on many levels. So please give us a reference as to your figures. I have never seen any that were positive, even without digging into them, as you suggest. Generally, when I read their figures, they are full of obvious flaws. First, how much soil loss is figured due to our incredibly harmful corn farming practices? How about the long term cost of raising corn using these chemicals literally kill all beneficial soil bacteria and… generally, just raising genetically modified corn? Of course, none of this is sustainable. As the soil gets worse, can we continue to feed people at all? Do you care? You know if we all die, ducks will follow.

    Line losses occur according to transmission distance as I am sure you are aware by your comments. Every sub-station induces additional losses. I did what I thought were real world calculations for our more sparsely populated area. Agreed, I did them some twenty years ago, but we have not gotten much better at it from what I can see. A transformer is still a major power looser just are the lines. You are welcome to believe what you will Mr. Duck and I agree with your numbers for a city in winter. Now moving along…

    IMHO, our grid technology is basically about as outdated as the ICE that you demeanor and not that far removed from what Tesla originally conceived. Interestingly, our company is currently looking into a technology that would decrease transmission losses 35% using load balancing techniques, but I am skeptical. With these, it is usually about batteries and, as we know, batteries are still poor.

    Agreed that the ICE, as currently used, is approximately 20% efficient… you could conclude that they stink! However, we have proven ways to run this up by 35% or more. Click on my name to see how.

    On the other hand, I am thinking that your 85% electrical conversion rate is very low. I would put it closer to 100%. The only losses are line and armature losses through heat. You say the these electric cars are 30% and I say that they are no better, even in a city, than an antiquated ICE. Call my conclusion nonsense. I call it reasonable.

    But who cares about any of this if you can’t recharge your car… meaning to me that you don’t live in a city where they MAY have charging stations?

    In the meantime, I see far better systems coming on line and ours is one of them.

    • 0 avatar

      The only researchers I know of who contend that corn ethanol has a negative energy balance are Pimental and Patzek (sp?), and their work has been strongly criticized. Two major weaknesses include their reliance on 1970s statistics for corn production practices, and inadequate credit given to the value of the dried distillers grains coproduct. See the work of Michael Wang of Argonne National Labs for a more balanced approach.

      I am a professor of crop physiology and I can tell you with certainty that, while current corn production practices are not 100% sustainable (what is?) they are nothing like as disastrous as you suggest. Where did you get this idea that the pesticides used in corn production kill off the soil microflora? This just bears no relationship to reality.

      Nation-wide estimated electricity transmission losses are only about 5% of total generation. Use this link and click on Table 10.

      It’s not hard to find this information if you actually want to…

      • 0 avatar

        Oh crap…I finally clicked on your link and realized that I am arguing science with someone who is direct-marketing “quantum electrodynamic coil packs” that increase fuel efficiency by 70%…..

        I don’t need one of your coil packs – I bought one of those 150-mpg carburetors back in 1973.

        • 0 avatar

          I am sorry if I insulted your professorship with my work or the the words of the less esteemed.

          Don’t know where you got that 70% number, but this device works very well and we have proven it with 100,000 miles and four years of documented testing. The real time videos are there as is are our dyno test records. While we make no wild claims, the realtime videos on our site do show a recorded 124 mpg two mile run on a factory stock VW dash gauge and a 100% improvent in power on a 2002 VW TDI diesel. What do we normally see day to day? 43.5 to 46 mpg on our VW in local driving and as much as 56 mpg highway.

          So you bought a Fish carburetor? One of our group has been testing one for sometime. They apparently work, but I have never even seen one.

          Now back to the topic at hand: GMO crops are mainly concerned with the herbicide Roundup. The claim is that Roundup has altered the bioactivity of soils and it is all over the web. Obviously, you dispute this. To test your theory, I propose haveing you stand in a field with your feathers exposed while it is being sprayed over a two year period. It you survive, I will help you work to withdraw the criticism.

          I, myself, have no experience with Roundup and never expect to, but you could obviously prove the people who claim otherwise wrong and I am happy to help.
          Good luck with your claims of nearly (?) 100% sustainability. My thought would be that something is sustainable or it is not. If it is not, its time to consider another method.

          On the other hand, what we are doing is fully sustainable, and I welcome your personally testing it, with a full guarantee that it is. That is unless you are a quack.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I believe this is the car in which Hyundai’s European market was shown an ad of a man trying to commit suicide via carbon monoxide, but unable to do so because of the fact that the car’s exhaust emits only water vapor.

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