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Elon Musk Updates On Hydrogen Energy With Most Compelling Use

VW CEO Herbert Diess said that hydrogen cars are a bad idea and to “listen to the science”. Elon Musk then sent out a statement agreeing with Deiss that hydrogen is not something worth investing in for automobiles.
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VW CEO Hebert Diess made the statement that hydrogen cars are bad for the earth. Musk sent out a tweet that said, "Diess is right, hydrogen is a staggeringly dumb form of an energy source for cars. Barely worth considering for a rocket’s upper stage, which is its most compelling use.” In this statement, Musk didn’t really dive much into the reasons why hydrogen is a bad energy source for cars. However, an old video shows Musk outlining why it doesn't make sense to utilize hydrogen.

Old video of Musk criticizing Hydrogen

Musk started by saying, “it is very difficult to make hydrogen, and store it, and use it in car.” Musk went onto say that hydrogen is not actually a source of energy. Musk gave other reasons such as how hydrogen is too low in density and also flammable. If Musk were to pick an alternative source to hydrogen, he said he would pick methane or propane.

Another video showing Musk’s views on Hydrogen

This is only a 12 second clip that was extracted from a rapid fire style interview, so Musk had to get to his main point immediately. Musk said that the cost and complexity of hydrogen is much greater than what one would find with an EV.

Comparing and contrasting the statements of Musk and Diess

Musk seems to be more focused on the usability aspect of hydrogen. Diess is more focused on the climate angle to using hydrogen in cars. Diess cited a paper written called the Handelsblatt report. Some of this report is below.

“Rather, direct use of electricity would make more economic and ecological sense in the coming years, especially in the passenger car sector. It is also criticized that new hydrogen-based fuels could keep combustion technology alive longer, which in turn would ensure our continued dependence on fossil fuels and thus further greenhouse gas emissions and endanger the climate targets. “

Diess and Musk have both been yet to entertain the possibility of adding hydrogen cars into their respective Model lineups.

The present of Hydrogen

Musk and Diess have both turned out to be right to a large extent. Hydrogen cars make up a miniscule portion of the market and that is probably being generous. The reality is that a few hydrogen cars have made it to production. The Toyota Mirai is one example of a hydrogen car that made it to production. The Mirai is still being sold for the 2021 Model year and it doesn’t look bad on paper in certain aspects. It got a 7.5 out of 10 rating from Car and Driver, and it appears to be a large spacious sedan. However, the Mirai has many downsides such as the fact it only has 182 horsepower. The Mirai also starts at almost $50,000. The hydrogen fuel cell station infrastructure for the Mirai is based in California. It seems owning a Mirai requires the buyer to live in California. This proves that hydrogen can’t be mass produced and distributed like electricity which is deeply entrenched in our everyday lives. On the contrary, one advantage of hydrogen powered cars is that they can be fueled in less than 5 minutes.

How far short Hydrogen falls

It is clear that hydrogen falls short, but at one time it had a lot of promise. There were a lot of people who thought that it was the future. Something else to think about is whether hydrogen could have gone farther than it did if more resources were put into it. None of the major players (which include people like Elon Musk) are too keen on making hydrogen powered cars. Therefore, hydrogen cars will probably be seen as just an attempt at diverting away from fossil fuels.

Image:Tesla

Daniel Cappo reports Tesla developments at Torque News. He has had a passion for cars ever since age five when his grandparents let him drive their old golf cart around their property in Upstate NY. He has attended numerous auto shows, and even got the chance to drive a Ferrari California on the track. Ever since Tesla opened up a dealership at his local mall, he's been an avid follower of their cars and technology. Dan has a B.S. in Public Communication from U Vermont. Follow Daniel on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily Tesla News.


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Comments

Hydrogen fuel cells themselves are a fantastic technology. Hydrogen is the most common element on the planet, and it holds more energy than batteries can by weight, which has some specific advantages for some use cases. But until/unless hydrogen production from renewable (green) sources makes a significant leap in technology, it is not cost effective for automobiles. Battery technology and production is advancing quickly now, and BEV prices are dropping, and most BEV owners can refuel overnight at home for pennies, and even recharge from solar. So the advantages of BEVs are becoming greater than FCEVs and ICE vehicles as time passes. I would not give up on FCEV development because it is far from impossible that some refining, storage and distribution breakthroughs could occur, plus there still are some vertical markets where hydrogen has an advantage over batteries and gas. But it is becoming tougher every day to compete against BEVs.