VW CEO Suggests Fuel Cell Tech Isn't the Answer, No Duh

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
vw ceo suggests fuel cell tech isn t the answer no duh

Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess was bashing hydrogen-powered vehicles on Twitter this week in an attempt to convince those vying for Germany’s chancellorship not to embrace the technology. With Angela Merkel stating that she’ll not seek a fifth term, the country is open for new leadership and VW wouldn’t want them to take a liking to hydrogen power when it has placed all of its eggs into the electric vehicle basket.

“The hydrogen car has been proven NOT to be the climate solution,” Diess wrote on Twitter in German. “In transportation, electrification has prevailed. Sham debates are a waste of time. Please listen to the science!”

It’s uncommon to see any automotive executive take such a bold stance against any alternative energy solution, as many manufacturers spent the last decade hedging their bets by investing in both battery-electric cars and those utilizing hydrogen power. But the infrastructure for the latter is nowhere near ready to accommodate widespread adoption and the process of producing the fuel has not resulted in the kind of breakthrough that makes it seem as though it would offer true benefits.

Diess directed his comments at Armin Laschet (head of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union), Olaf Scholz (German Finance Minister), Annalena Baerbock (Green Party candidate), and Andreas Scheuer (German Transportation Minister). His words were accompanied by a report from Handelsblatt covering a study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research alleging that pursuing hydrogen vehicles at their present level of technology would probably do the environment more harm than good.

Frankly, the benefits of all alternative energy solutions tend to be overblown by the interested parties. But hydrogen fuel cell technologies seem to represent the largest gap between what is currently possible and what everyone was hoping to achieve. The big concern is the amount of energy it takes to produce and move hydrogen in meaningful volumes seems to result in a scenario where you’re expending more energy than you would have if you just skipped the whole ordeal in the first place.

Despite having waste issues of their own, electric vehicles seem a far more viable option with noted progress. Of course, automakers don’t want to be left in the dust should there be a miracle breakthrough in hydrogen production or governments begin incentivizing the fuel — so there are still a decent number of brands perpetuating their commitment to fuel cell technology.

Volkswagen is not among them and has been fairly critical of hydrogen power, though it frequently hinges on making statements about “trusting the science” rather than providing a detailed breakdown of why it probably won’t work. As things currently stand, electric vehicles are vastly more efficient in terms of total well-to-wheel energy consumption. That, and national energy grids serving as an existing foundation upon which to build charging networks, has made them the dominant form of alternative energy vehicles.

With your author constantly complaining about how EVs are less convenient than advertised, thanks largely to a lackluster (but growing) infrastructure, there’s no way swapping to hydrogen power makes any sense. Outside of Pacific Asia, coastal California, and a smattering of European hot spots, there is basically no fueling network to speak of. That effectively locks owners into driving exclusively within those regions or hauling around gas canisters sized to fit inside a space rocket. It also explains why Japanese and Korean brands have taken a keener interest in the fuel and tend to expend the most cash on developing FCEVs.

But electrification is currently being spurred by government around the world and, if Germany starts playing favorites with hydrogen, there’s a chance automakers ignoring it could be kicking themselves a few years down the road — however unlikely and energy inefficient that currently seems.

[Image: Literator/Shutterstock]

Join the conversation
3 of 46 comments
  • Stuki Stuki on May 21, 2021

    "The hydrogen car has been proven NOT to be the climate solution" Devote enough of society's time and effort solely to robbing competent, literate, productive people; in order to transfer all wealth to connected utter abject retardos in FIRE and ambulance chaser rackets, and you've got a perfect retardtopia: All resources controlled by dimbulbs so completely devoid of even the basic ability to put a coherent thought together, that their standard for what passes for "proof", involves a "solution" to nothing but figments of dumb peoples imaginations, the "solution" of which has not yet even been attempted, yet has magically "proven" something..... Great "proof" there, monkey! Par for the course for a financialized Dystopia ran, as are all such insults to eonomic literacy, by and for rank idiots.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on May 25, 2021

    Take 500lbs out of every new car and you'd save vast amounts of emissions.

    • Mcs Mcs on May 25, 2021

      That's true. It's shocking to see how the weight of all types of cars has been increasing. I was shocked the see the Acura TLX go over 4,000 lbs. On the electric side of the industry, weight reduction is badly needed. Less weight means more range from smaller batteries. Smaller batteries for a given range increases miles/minute charging rates. Smaller batteries mean lower costs as well. The battery engineers will give us lighter batteries, but I'm afraid crash regs will continue to increase vehicle weights erasing any gains.

  • Arthur Dailey https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/news/type-4-marked-beginning-end-air-cooled-volkswagens/ 'In its marketing VW highlighted the Type IV's upscale features like draft-free air circulation, a thermostat-controlled auxiliary heat system, and six-way adjustable front seats that were able to fully recline. The 411 had front and rear crumple zones, a padded instrument panel, a collapsible steering column and steering wheel with padded spokes. Brochures touted the 411’s suspension as being similar to that of the Porsche 911, but with a focus on stability rather than speed. Complete with an independent suspension with MacPherson struts and coil springs in front, as well as a coil-sprung trailing wishbone rear suspension with double-jointed axles and an anti-roll bar. Eleven-inch front disc brakes, plus rear drums, hid behind 15 x 4.5-inch wheels mounting radial tires. 'For carrying stuff, the Type 4 sedan was shockingly adept, having a 14.1-cubic-foot trunk in front, plus 6 cu.ft. of space behind the rear seat. The wagon was even better, carrying around 48 cu.ft. inside with the rear seat folded. 'The original Type IV did have traditional controls. Modern controls were added in later production models. But still in advance of the domestics. Just under 368,000 Type IV's were sold.
  • Cprescott Union workers are only concerned about themselves. They don't care who else gets hurt when they throw a tantrum, er, strike.
  • SCE to AUX Not sure where that photo came from, but it wasn't Canada.
  • Arthur Dailey Very few probably share my view, but I believe that the T-roof option is well worth that price.Bring back T-Tops!!!!!!!!
  • Arthur Dailey Referred to in the day as a 'mini-Corvette'.