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If you are interested in a more eco-friendly alternative to transportation, you’ve probably been reading up on electric vehicles, or EVs.
Right now, your primary option is going to be a battery-powered vehicle, but you might keep your eye on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the long-range advantages. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are another version of electric vehicles, but they remain in their infancy compared to battery EVs.
How do hydrogen fuel cell vehicles differ from battery EVs?
The first thing you need to understand is that hydrogen and battery both power an electric engine. The difference is in how that engine is powered.
The more common version available now is the battery-powered electric vehicle. More than 2 million battery EVs are roaming the streets and highways of the United States at this time.
A hydrogen fuel cell, on the other hand, uses hydrogen mixed with oxygen to provide fuel to the electric engine. As of August 1, 2021, according to Autoweek, a little more than 11,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were operating on U.S. highways. That's a minuscule amount compared to the 2 million battery EV and 270 million gasoline-powered vehicles.
The potential for hydrogen vehicles rests in their ability to out-range battery-powered vehicles and to do so with zero harmful emissions. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles offer a range of 300-plus miles per fill-up, similar to combustion engines and well beyond the range of battery-powered EVs.
You also can fill a hydrogen tank in a similar time frame to a gasoline fill-up, compared to the longer time needed to recharge batteries.
Why are hydrogen fuel cell vehicles slow to be adopted?
One issue with hydrogen revolves around the production of hydrogen. Only 33% is produced through sustainable sources such as solar, wind, and hydro. Thankfully, companies and nations are working to rapidly raise that number.
Right now, you'd only be able to fill up your hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in a limited number of states, primarily California and Hawaii. California currently operates 48 hydrogen fueling stations, and Hawaii offers 1.
Autoweek reports it had difficulty finding hydrogen fuel while operating a Toyota Marai over the past year, with half the stations frequently without hydrogen fuel. Companies are working to offer liquid hydrogen, which will make transportation and production more amiable for future development.
The Northeast and Pacific Northwest are looking at developing hydrogen fueling networks to improve the possibility of growth for hydrogen fuel cell technology. Compared to battery technology, companies are currently developing charging station networks in corridors across the United States.
The potential for transport and mass transit
Because of the longer-range service provided by hydrogen fuel cells, companies and countries are exploring the use of hydrogen for trucking and busing. California currently has 48 hydrogen fuel cell buses operating.
Buses offer great potential because they rack up long mileage during the day but remain within close proximity so one fueling station can serve several buses. Transport, on the other hand, will require a vast network of hydrogen fueling stations but will offer an eco-friendly alternative to the diesel vehicles that dominate the trucking industry.
Autoweek reports 19 countries having hydrogen strategies embedded in their plans to address the global climate crisis. Germany is a leading contender but programs are also in the works in Europe, Japan, and China.
As you consider your options for entering the electric vehicle market, Jerry provides you with the best information for how to protect your vehicles through insurance options.