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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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- Sayahh Story idea or car design competition: design a compact sedan, a midsize sedan, coupe and/or wagon specifically for people 6'4" through 7'2". Not an SUV nor a crossover nor a raised chassis like the US Toyota Crown or Subaru Outback.
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- BklynPete Maverick has had recalls but overall seems reliable. Consumer Reports recommends it for whatever that's worth, buyers think they're better than sliced bread, they're sold out, and look like a long-term success.I suppose you're right that DCT can be laid at Mulally's feet too but as COO Fields was in charge of product. When he got Mulally's job, Fields brought back mgmt siloes and lost shareholder value. Maybe Fields took the fall for other's bad decisions. But ultimately as CEO the axe had to land on him. I cannot believe that Farley won't meet the same fate if 2023 warranty claims make Ford lose money again.
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