With the right infrastructure, hydrogen cars could become a viable option for those looking for a clean and sustainable way to power their vehicles, if not now, definitely in the future. According to the National Fire Protection Association, alternative fuel vehicles, a category that includes both hydrogen fuel cells and battery-powered electric vehicles, are no more dangerous than traditional internal combustion engines. Unlike electric cars, which rely primarily on lithium-ion battery packs and consume fuel, hydrogen vehicles use fuel cells to power their engines. In California, the debate continues as to whether the subsidies offered by the state to boost the fuel cell market have amortized investment, judging by the limited use of service stations and the lack of profits.
Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) combine hydrogen stored in a tank with oxygen in the air to produce electricity, with water vapor as a by-product. Leasing has been a popular choice among consumers for electric cars with fuel cells and batteries because the technology is new and early adopters don't want to be tied to a current model for a long time as technology advances and efficiency improves. While renewable sources of hydrogen, such as agricultural and waste sites, are increasing, most of the hydrogen obtained as fuel comes from traditional natural gas extraction. To produce energy, hydrogen cars have numerous fuel cells that work simultaneously, similar to the lithium-ion cells in an electric vehicle battery.
As the electric revolution redraws the automotive map at an increasingly rapid pace, there is no doubt that battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV) have won the argument, and that other forms of alternative fuel, such as electric vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells (HFCEV or FCEV), have already lost.
Hydrogen fuel cellelectric cars look like something out of science fiction, but they could be the gateway to green fuel. There are currently 39 public hydrogen stations in California (with another 25 under development), along with a couple in Hawaii. Although fuel cell vehicles themselves only emit water vapor through their exhaust pipes, the Union of Concerned Scientists points out that the production of hydrogen can cause pollution.
Fuel cell electric vehicles are an interesting proposition for those who want to go green, but they are not as available as complete electric vehicles. The return to the warehouse operation means that the hydrogen refueling infrastructure can be more centralized and is likely to be compatible with the distributed hydrogen production expected for this period. The co-founder and CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, has dismissed hydrogen fuel cells as stunningly stupid, and that's not the only negative thing he's said about the technology. Unlike most common battery-powered electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles don't need to be plugged in, and all current models exceed 300 miles of range with a full tank of fuel.
Ford has experimented with fuel cell variants of its Focus and Fusion cars, as well as with the Edge crossover, but doesn't offer any of those vehicles for sale.