BMW recently wrote an article that presented a highly optimistic view of hydrogen fuel cell cars. BMW claimed that hydrogen fuel cell cars are better than electric cars due to their shorter charging time and their immunity to cold weather.
However, BMW omitted crucial facts. In response, I have included four additional key facts that are essential for making a purchase decision.
1) Very High Real-World Emissions
While fuel cell vehicles emit zero emissions at the tailpipe, considering emissions from hydrogen production paints a different picture.
Nearly all hydrogen (around 97%) is sourced from natural gas, and a simple calculation reveals that CO2 emissions are as high as, if not higher than, a hybrid vehicle, and higher than an electric vehicle charged from a 100% coal grid. Thus, there is little environmental improvement to speak of.
2) Exorbitant Costs
Not only are fuel cell vehicles expensive to buy, but they are also costly to run. In North America, where gas prices are lower and hydrogen subsidies are minimal compared to Europe, energy consumption costs are 4-5 times higher than those of a gasoline-powered vehicle and 10 times higher than those of an electric vehicle.
3) Lack of Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure
With the exception of a few regions, owning a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) is nearly impossible due to the scarcity of refueling stations. Additionally, hydrogen supply can be unreliable, leading to extended wait times. In contrast, electric vehicles can be conveniently charged at home.
4) Safety Concerns
Handling hydrogen is more hazardous and challenging compared to gasoline, natural gas, or electricity. Although some automakers claim that hydrogen storage tanks can withstand gunfire without leakage, that is not the primary issue.
Hydrogen needs to be compressed to an immense pressure of 700 bar for transportability, which can lead to metal fatigue and frequent leaks. It also has a wide ignition point, making any pipe, hose, fitting, or joint susceptible to failure.
While hydrogen has been handled safely for many years in controlled industrial settings, introducing it to the public poses a whole new set of challenges.
Before considering a hydrogen vehicle, it is crucial to understand its many downsides. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that the issues with hydrogen fuel cell cars will be resolved in the near future. Some issues may never be resolved, regardless of financial investments.
When compared to electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles are simply not a viable option.
Image Source: Seyed Ali Hosseini, https://shorturl.at/bEV19