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Fuel cell cars getting closer

By Tara Baukus Mello ·
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Posted: 3 am ET

Talk of hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars has been going on for decades without any increase in the number of cars being produced, but several recent announcements indicate alternative fuel technology is in America's future.

This past week, Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada said the automaker is moving forward with its commitment to produce a fuel cell electric sedan for sale in the United States in 2015. He made the comment to reporters after a speech at the Economic Club of Washington D.C., according to the industry publication Automotive News.

It's not just Toyota

General Motors also recently announced it is expanding its collaboration with the U.S. Army to develop hydrogen fuel cell technology. The two will jointly test new hydrogen fuel-cell-related materials and designs before using them to build full-scale fuel cell propulsion systems. In July, GM and Honda announced a partnership to develop a next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies by about 2020. General Motors has been working on fuel cell technology since 1964.

The latest push for fuel cell technology is part of a larger plan at the federal level to reduce the nation's dependence on oil and to reduce the environmental impact of emissions from gasoline-powered cars. Some states are putting weight behind similar efforts, particularly to build an infrastructure to refuel these cars. Earlier this week, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that extends programs accelerating the turnover of older cars and invests in the development and deployment of advanced technologies. The bill includes up to a $20 million annual commitment to fund at least 100 hydrogen fuel stations.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter: @SheDrives.

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October 09, 2013 at 1:37 pm

How manny billions do oil companies make every quarter?
the case was made we still have lots of oil in Alaska and other places

James Poskozim
October 09, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Hydrogen as an alternate fuel for transportation would be a great stride and would provide very real choice from gasoline and other oil based products to the marketplace.
But the link in the chain to produce affordable hydrogen requires another energy source such as coal or nuclear. Producing large quantities of hydrogen requires electricity. Electricity can be made using any basic energy source, but affordable electricity requires affordable coal, nuclear, natural gas or other ultimate sources. Until federal regulators allow these basic energy sources to be produced at reasonably low cost there is still a gap in the chain to any large use of hydrogen.
We need to elect political leaders who understand that energy production is the means to support quality of life.

October 09, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Hydrogen-h2o fueled vehicles sounds wonderful! So now there is more need to stop the water waste in Fracking for faster natural gas production

October 09, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Where is the permament magnet motor that was tested in new jersey in a pickup truck. The GOV. and oil companys will never let it on the market. The car that went from N.J. to California on 22 gal. of water. The GOV. will not let that happen

October 09, 2013 at 11:55 am

Hydrogen may be difficult to produce but if you filled your gas tank with water and if we could "harness the 1.21 gigawatts of power generated by a bolt of lightening and channel it" into the gas tank, man we could get from here to Phoenix in two hours.

Fred Clark
October 09, 2013 at 11:14 am

If the hydrogen were completed today and could be purchased by all, it would be Great.

The sooner hydrogen cars are being MFG the better off this country will be-----SO LETS GET IT STARTED----OK???

October 09, 2013 at 10:29 am

Hydrogen takes more energy to produce, or isolate, than it can provide. That seems to be ignored by those thinking it is a utopian like solution.

October 09, 2013 at 9:53 am

Sounds really great. But just one word comes to mind

October 09, 2013 at 8:41 am

In the late '80s there was a man (in Connecticut I think) that invented an engine that ran on hydrogen but you fueled the car with water and it was converted in the car. No need for paying for hydrogen. But as with any idea that cuts into the greedy oil barons profits, he and his invention disappeared. Face the reality, as long as the oil cartel control the Government we will never see higher MPG cars nor will we ever see reasonable, affordable alternate fuel vehicles. Car builders have been proving for decades they can build 100+ mpg engines but the oil companies will never allow them to be built. In 1985 I bought a Ford Escort (carbureted) that got 52 mpg, so why is that nearly 30 years later car companies advertise 35mpg as being something wonderful. 35mpg from an underpowered 4 cylinder is absurd. I get 28 from my '88 Mustang GT (340hp V8). A local mechanic even gets around 60mpg from '95-'02 GM 3.1L engines with a 40hp increase.

October 09, 2013 at 7:55 am

I don't think you need to worry about running out of hydrogen, it's not like a hydrocarbon that takes millions of years to form and is destroyed. H2 can easily be generated as long as there is water and the byproduct of burning H2 is H2O vapor and heat. The hurdle is producing enough cheaply and getting refueling infrastructure in place.