The failure of hydrogen cars, now even Toyota gives up? Here are the reasons

When it comes to electric car and in general of the mobility of the future, detractors often use the as an argument hydrogen car. Let’s make a premise. With hydrogen cars, we usually indicate cars Fuel cellor who use a Fuel cellpowered by hydrogen, to produce electricity, which in turn activates a normal electric motor, very similar to those in electric cars.

The two fuel cell cars (FCEV extension) the best known are the Hyundai Nexo and the Toyota Mirai, the latter in particular having long been the symbol of this technology. Despite being the only two choices on sale today, units sold are often counted on one hand, at most two, indicating a complete lack of demand.

The reason often cited as the main cause of bankruptcy is the lack of gas stations. The Italian case is emblematic, with a single station in Bolzano, but even in countries where the work has been greater, such as the United Kingdom, there are very few stations (14 in the United Kingdom). Suddenly, the public struggles to take them into consideration, and it does not seem that things are improving in a short time. Hydrogen filling stations cost millions of euros, and it is not at all true that it is so easy to convert ordinary filling stations. Without considering that this distribution network should then production and transport of precious gastwo other strongly limiting conditions.

FCEV extension

What has been analyzed so far is from the perspective of the end customer, but then there are many considerations from the production and industry side. According to recent estimates from Hyundai, FCEVs will not reach the cost parity with electric cars before 2030. A date that does not seem too far away, but electric cars today are already considered by many to be too expensive compared to endothermic cars. A massive switch to even more expensive hydrogen cars seems virtually impossible. In the meantime, research in the lithium battery sector will continue, which will help drive down the cost of battery solutions even further.

Also on the horizon is the abandonment of polluting and expensive raw materials such as cobalt and nickel, while the equally expensive platinum and iridium found in fuel cell systems seem irreplaceable for now. All these reasons will make it difficult to reduce the price gap between electric cars and hydrogen cars, and therefore even more so with endothermic cars. The outlook is therefore not rosy and, despite a still very active marketing façade, even great defenders back down. Toyota, a true hydrogen champion, recently announced that hydrogen engines are just an experiment for motorsport and that FCEVs also have a controversial future. “When it comes to passenger vehicles, I don’t see fuel cells as a big opportunity, honestly. We are talking about a few thousand per year (by 2030)“, Toyota Motor Europe President Matt Harrison said in an interview. These statements sound a lot like classic oars being pulled into a boat.

FCEV extension

seems to agree too Hondathat abandoned the Clarity Fuel Cell project for low demand. Before that Mercedes-Benz had closed the hydrogen program, as early as 2020, citing high costs seemingly impossible to reduce. He had plans too JaguarLand Rover, which promised tests by the end of 2021, only to lose the head of the fuel cell division, Ralph Clague, just before, resulting in the postponement (or cancellation?) of each operation. Similar news is also coming from the United States, where General Motors, which also has a finished product in the Hydrotec component series, has decided to move the division to the heavy transport sector.

So what’s left for hydrogen? The supporters play the card ofenergy storageexploiting electricity from production peaks, also of renewable origin, to produce hydrogen from electrolysis some water. This green hydrogen, as classified, would then be used to obtain electricity again at times of greatest demand. But those on the side of electrification argue that it is better to use this electricity directly in the batteries, avoiding the changes of state that lead to very low yields. And that would seem like sensible reasoning, because with the increase in electric cars on the road, the power grid would have huge mobile power banksin which to store all the surplus production.

In the future of hydrogen and fuel cells, there are therefore only crumbs, or at most significant parts of heavy land, sea or air transport, and all car manufacturers have now understood this.