Monday, October 6, 2008

Mixed predictions on hydrogen car

Monday, 6 October 2008

US carmaker Ford says the mass production of hydrogen-fuelled cars is unlikely for at least 20 years, a forecast at odds with other carmakers targeting an earlier transition.Cars running on hydrogen fuel cells are seen as the eventual replacement for fossil fuel cars, with gasoline-eclectic hybrids and fully electric “plug in” cars seen as transitional technologies along the way because of range limitations.Hydrogen fuel cells create electricity under a chemical process using hydrogen and oxygen. The only emission from the process is water vapour and only small amounts of hydrogen are needed to go along way. While the technology has already produced prototypes and plans by some carmakers for commercial models by 2010, the cost of hardware and the lack of a distribution network for the refuelling of cars is seen as a major barrier.“I have not seen a viable, affordable plan to convert an economy to hydrogen, it could well take until 2030,'' Greg Frenette, Ford's lead hydrogen engineer, told Bloomberg.General Motors and Honda are far more optimistic in their outlook and have small numbers of hydrogen cars on the road in testing programmes in the US. GM says the distribution challenge is being overcome and is working with local government to install filling stations in its trial areas.GM says its targeting 2010 for the availability of a cost-completive technology. Honda says mass production may be possible within ten years. The technology should be competitive on range and speed within five years, but not on cost, said Masaaki Kato, chief of Honda’s research unit.

Bloomberg 3/10/08

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