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Hydrogen-powered vehicles over Electric vehicles

  • China, Japan and South Korea have set ambitious targets to put millions of hydrogen-powered vehicles on their roads.
  • But, Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) have been upstaged by electric vehicles (EVs).
  • It becomes a mainstream option due to the success of Tesla Inc’s luxury cars as well as sales and production quotas set by China.
  • Critics argue FCVs may never amount to more than a niche technology.
  • But proponents counter hydrogen is the cleanest energy source for autos available and with time, it will gain acceptance.
  • China, far and away the world’s biggest auto market is aiming for more than 1 million FCVs in service by 2030.
  • Japan, a market of more than 5 million vehicles annually, wants to have 800,000 FCVs sold by that time.
  • Resource-poor Japan sees hydrogen as a way to greater energy security.
  • Driving ranges and refuelling times for FCVs are comparable to gasoline cars, whereas EVs require hours to recharge and provide only a few hundred kilometres of range.
  • In general, hydrogen is seen as the more efficient choice for heavier vehicles that drive longer distances.
  • However, lack of refuelling stations which are costly to build, is usually cited as the biggest obstacle to widespread adoption of FCVs.
  • Consumer worries about the risk of explosions are also a big hurdle.
  • Residents in Japan and South Korea have protested against the construction of hydrogen stations.
  • This year, a hydrogen tank explosion in South Korea killed 2 people, followed by a blast at a Norway hydrogen station.
  • Heavy subsidies are needed to bring prices down to levels of gasoline-powered cars.
  • Automakers contend that once sales volumes increase, economies of scale will make subsidies unnecessary.
February 2024