What’s the Deal With Hydrogen Cars?

Move over, electric: there’s a new contender in the zero emissions game. Hydrogen-powered vehicles are here, and while you’re unlikely to see them hitting the roads in numbers comparable to electrics any time soon, they do present an interesting possibility.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles present several benefits: impressive range (300 miles plus, which blows most electric vehicles out of the water), fast refueling time, extremely quiet operation, and zero harmful tailpipe emissions.

Impressive, right? Clearly these benefits are exciting enough to get hydrogen some serious consideration after many years of it being much-discussed but ultimately a distant dream. According to the Wall Street Journal, at least three automakers will be rolling out test vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells in the near future:

“Three car makers have disclosed plans to lease a small number of new vehicles in California and in a few countries in Europe by the end of next year. South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co.  is expected to be first out of the gate this spring, followed next year by Japanese auto makers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.”

Don’t get too excited, though. The astronomical cost of building hydrogen fuel cells and the lack of infrastructure to support hydrogen powered vehicles means you likely won’t see them adopted as quickly or with as much fervor as electric vehicles have been for a very, very long time. While there are some hydrogen fueling stations throughout some parts of California (with plans in motion to build even more), they’re not available just about anywhere else.

Presumably if the test vehicles are successful, you’ll start seeing hydrogen fueling stations popping up in more places, though we’re a little skeptical. Bob Carter, the senior vice president of automotive operations for U.S. Toyota Motor Sales, is far more confident than we are, saying, “Fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe, and in much greater numbers than anyone expected.”

We’re looking forward to seeing how it plays out — but in the meantime, we’re sticking with our electrics.