Electric or Hydrogen- Hyundai backs Hydrogen

Whilst most car makers are developing some kind of electric car, or EV as they are obsessed with them, Hyundai has brough attention back to Hydrogen. Many will remember, approximately 10 years ago Honda developed a Hydrogen fuel cell car called the FCX clarity, around the same time people were buying G-wizes as an electric city car. Since then though electric technology car moved forward quickly with us now having electric cars with 300 mile ranges, whilst Hydrogen has been largely forgotten.

This seems strange when you look at the two fuel sources. Hydrogen comprises of a fuel tank which you fill up with Hydrogen, which takes about 5 minutes. You then drive for 300 plus miles, omitting only water as a byproduct. That’s a process that doesn’t sound too unfamiliar to most motorists. Battery powered cars on the other hand take 2 hours or so to charge and then can just about scrape 300 miles at best, before another 2 hour charge. On paper the hydrogen powered example is a slam dunk, you can see it filtering into our petrol stations alongside the diesel and petrol pumps and before long we will all be using hydrogen instead of petrol. So it seems strange the motor industry has headed for electric cars.

Well the good news is Hyundai has some sense and has brought attention back to the fuel cell. It plans to show off an SUV at this years Geneva Motor Show which is a hydrogen powered car. Hyundai has committed itself to the hydrogen technology and a senior executive was quoted at CES  as saying “For Hyundai, the fuel cell system is like a first child. It is very much a propriety technology and that is why we like to put our effort and love into fuel cell vehicles.”,

The Toyota Mirai

More good news is alongside Honda, Toyota too have seen the light and developed the Mirai. Currently Hyundai’s ix35 and the Toyota are the only two hydrogen cars you can buy in the UK, with Honda expecting to put their ‘Clarity’ on sale later this year. If these models prove to be a success they could be defining  cars in the future fuel of the motor industry.

The Honda Clarity

One thought on “Electric or Hydrogen- Hyundai backs Hydrogen

  1. I am not sure I agree that Hyundai and Honda has come to it senses in by focusing on Hydrogen vehicles. I just want to comment on some the points made in this article.

    Charging/refill times:
    When driving electric cars you almost never need to run down the battery to empty (only when on long trips) and then you start to charge it. This seems to be a wide spread misconseption and a biased example when compring electric vs hydrogen or fossil fuel vehicles.

    For almost all drivers you typically travel an average of 5o to 100 km per day. You charge the car at home during the night in a normal outlet (10 amps) and start every morning day with a “full tank”. (If you drive longer distances daily you might consider installing a more powerful home charger of that will boost up the amps amps) So to compare refill time/charge time based on empty tank/battery is just not relevant

    Energy efficiency:

    Hydrogen vehicles are by a large margin much less energy efficient than battery powered vehicles. The world can not afford to waste energy like this.

    CO footprint:

    Pure hydrogen does not exisit in a natural state on our planet. It is extracted from typically two sources. Either by electrolyses to water (H2O) to separate the hydrogen or via a chemical process to derive it from hydrocarbons. (Yes – the very same fuel source we want to eliminate… ) Almost all hydrogen produced today comes from hydrocarbons, thus leaving a CO footprint i believe equals the same magnitude as just convert the hydrocarbons to regular petrol/diesel.

    Alternativly to extract hydrogen from water does not leave any CO footprint as such (given that the electricity comes from a renewable source). However it just does not make sense to use this electricity to separate hydrogen, store it, transport it and fill up in vehicles that waste most of the energy in heat. It is by far more energy efficient and less costly to put the electricity straight into the a pure battery powered vehicle.

    It is in fact 3x less efficient to use the electricity for electrolyses to produce hydrogen than to use it to charge a battery powered electric vehicle directly , See:


    Todays fuel cells loose their efficiency much faster than electric batteries. Experiences with the early Tesla Model S shows that batteries degenrate only around 6-7% after even 200.000+ miles. The fuel cell technology might improve on this but as of today fuel cells need costly replacements after relative short use.

    Fuel Cost:
    The cost of hydrogen per distance travel will be substantially higher than the electricity bill for battery driven cars.

    Hydrogen is not safe:
    Hydrogen is a highly flammable gas (and under extreme preassure)….

    Complexity and cost:
    Hydrogen vehicles are more complex and more expensive to both build and maintain as compared to purely battery powered electric vehicles

    Electric cars utilize to a large part existing electric infrastrucure for charging. The hydrogen infrastrucure is virtually non existent.

    Why one would spend an enormeous amounts in building a an infrastrucure to support wide spread adaption of cars that are less efficient (and thus more polluting), more complicated, more expensive to build and maintain and more dangerous too public safety than pure battery powered vehicles is beyond my understanding

    The only institutions that can favor this are gas station companies, repair shops, automotive companies who want to make complex cars for their after marked business and ignorant officials who waste taxpayers money in expensive public pilot projects.

    I am certain that common sense will prevail and that hydrogen will not be the future fuel of the motor industry.


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