Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Technology: Past, Present & Future

Forget hybrids and electric cars — turns out we’re heading back to the future. In the US, Europe and Japan, car manufacturers Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are rolling out new mass-produced hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCV) to stoke a growing demand for what’s tipped by car industry watchers to be the next big thing.
While there’s no plan for these cars to go on sale in Australia just yet, the future is closer than you might think. At the World Hydrogen Technologies Convention in Sydney in October 2015, Toyota wowed journalists and government officials with a demonstration of the Mirai, a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle boasting an emissions-free range of 550km by transforming hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and water.
In early 2015, Hyundai Motors went as far as installing Australia’s first hydrogen pump for cars, to go along with its own hydrogen vehicle: the ix35 Fuel Cell, a family SUV that boasts 100kW of power output, a 0-100kph time of 12.5 seconds and an operating range of up to 594km between refuel
All this talk about hydrogen cars has set tongues wagging — and even sparked some backlash from critics. Tesla Motor’s CEO Elon Musk famously derided hydrogen fuel cells as “extremely silly”, and referred to them as “fool cells,” along with some other colourful words.
Other carmakers have invested in battery power. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn points out: “Knowing all the problems we have with charging [electric vehicles], where is the hydrogen infrastructure?”
As the race heats up between rival car manufacturers, which tech will drive petrol cars off the road — hydrogen or electric?

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