Some may question the viability of electric cars in the future due to the collaboration between Honda, GM, and Toyota to develop hydrogen vehicles, as well as Toyota’s continued support for the technology.
Due to reliability concerns, many drivers are hesitant to adopt conversion kits that convert gas-powered vehicles to hydrogen. The modifications often lead to less reliable vehicles. This contrasts sharply with the more reliable performance offered by electric cars with hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Toyota has now developed a hydrogen engine which will be more reliable than a gas engine converted to hydrogen, but will not have the performance benefits of the fuel cell technology. The only problem with either type of power is that there’s no infrastructure for hydrogen and the hydrogen generators cost a lot.
Let’s talk this week about hydrogen-powered automobiles. Then, we’ll close with my Product of the Week — a car out of Switzerland called the Microlino. This could be the ideal electric vehicle for situations that require a lot of power. electric cars work best: short hops.
Hydrogen vs. Electric Cars
Hydrogen is a better option for a car’s power source than batteries. This is because, in many implementations, the motor is more reliable than a battery and the electric vehicle has the best of both worlds.
Much like gas tanks don’t wear out — although older ones did rust out if you didn’t take care of them — hydrogen tanks would be no different because they last indefinitely if maintained properly.
Both fuel delivery systems must be maintained. Since hydrogen is typically supplied as liquid, it is also under pressure. This adds cost and complexity to gas, but it’s still far more reliable than batteries today.
Toyota’s decision to use a special internal combustible engine (ICE), is an interesting one because it gives you the ICE feel (engine noise, etc.).You get to experience the complexity of this engine type as well.
Because they are more complicated, internal combustion engines tend be less reliable than electric motors. If you’re used to driving a gas-powered car, the experience should be similar. The Toyota approach is the best option for anyone who wants the gas car sound and feel.
In order to get the same experience with an electric motor you have to artificially add engine sounds. This solution has not been very popular to date. BMW and Fisker tried it with mixed success. Electric car drivers usually forget about the sound after experiencing the torque and acceleration that an electric vehicle offers.
If you’re talking about the fuel cell car, which is where the majority of automakers plan to use hydrogen, then the hydrogen-powered vehicles are superior on paper.
But Hydrogen is a Big Problem
Tesla’s success is due to the massive investments the company made into an electric ecosystem, combined with the rapid release of Level 2 chargers at low cost that allow you to charge your Tesla at home.
Under $300 you can purchase a level 2 electric charger. A good flex charger, like the one that I use is also available. ChargePoint Home Flex Charger for under $600.
As reported by, over 53,000 public charging locations will be available in the United States by 2022. Statista. This expansion shows that despite reliability issues, public chargers are readily available and installed at an increasing pace. California has more than 44,000 charging stations.
If you ignore the fact that many of these gas stations are out of service, we’re about half way there.
Comparing that to only 58 public hydrogen refueling stations California is home to 57 of the 58 fuel stations in the U.S. You’ll have a hard time finding fuel in any state in the U.S.
According to projections, the U.S. will have up to 4,300 hydrogen-fuel stations by 2030. However, most of them are commercial. This is still only a small fraction of what electric charging station we have now, and there’s not enough public charging.
So, with nearly 1,000 times the number of projected charging locations, electric battery-powered cars are approaching the same advantage that gas cars now have when it comes to fueling locations — or they would if these charging stations were more dependable.
The number of electric car chargers is still far greater than hydrogen. I should add that current forecasts have us at 35 million electric car chargers by 2030. Although most of these chargers will be installed in homes, it is still a huge number.
Hydrogen fueling at home and infrastructure hurdles
What about hydrogen fuel at home? That’s going be a big problem.
The cost of a home-based hydrogen generator is around $2,000, since it requires electricity and water to run. $12,000. The cost of fueling is prohibitively costly, even though you can do it at home just like you charge an electric vehicle.
Cost isn’t just a problem. The cost of fueling up a hydrogen-powered car is about $75, compared to the $10 it costs to fully charge an electric vehicle. Around 60 miles of driving would cost approximately $4 for an electrical car and closer to $15.00 for a hydrogen.
The problem of hydrogen fueling is similar to that of electric cars charging. But it’s much worse, both in terms ecosystem availability and cost. It is only possible to overcome this problem by creating a massive and low-cost infrastructure for hydrogen fueling, similar to what Tesla has done for EVs. But no one appears to be doing it for anything except commercial hydrogen cars.
Honda and GM are focusing on this situation. Toyota is crazy because it appears unlikely that it will be able fund the fueling network it needs outside Japan. Toyota could do this in Japan even though there will only be 250 stations in 2022.
Around $1.9 million is the cost of a new car build a hydrogen fueling station. Even if you could reduce that cost by $800,000 — by converting an existing gas station instead of building from scratch — to approach where electric charging stations are today, you would need 53,000 of them. This cost is over $58 trillion in the U.S., but Toyota’s value is only around $273 billion. Therefore, it will need government assistance to create the entire ecosystem.
The $7.5 billion estimated cost to expand the EV charger ecosystem in the U.S. by adding 500,000 more chargers is a stark contrast.
The battery technology that was stagnant for most of the 20th century is now advancing rapidly. The Chinese electric vehicle company Zeekr A car priced under $40,000 can boast a range of over 640 miles. This is close to the impressive 845-mile range of the Toyota Mirai Hydrogen powered car.
It’s clear that commercial hydrogen vehicles can be made to work by combining a superior range with depot fueling stations, and a limited amount of long-haul fuel stops. What about consumer vehicles? Nope. Toyota’s efforts will probably fail, because the math isn’t working.
It’s too late to switch from battery to hydrogen. The cost is so high that even the government will not pay for it.
Microlino Electric Car
You can’t beat electric cars when it comes to local driving. You can charge the car at home. Public charging is not important to you.
This is my new favorite class. Microlino electric car Out of Switzerland
There are currently no plans to sell the car in the U.S. but we can still wish that this adorable, small, and affordable $14,000 vehicle was available in America.
As old as the hills BMW Isetta The Microlino is a great little electric car. My dad used to have two when I was a kid. The Microlino has a range that is exceptional, ranging from 60 to 143 mile for local travel depending on the size of battery selected. You can park the car in tight spaces and still get into and out of it easily.
The top speed is 55 mph, which will allow it to handle many local speed limits. However, I would avoid freeways. A few years ago, I used an electric scooter with a speed limit of 56 mph and was dismayed by the number cars who wanted to run me over on freeways.
If you’re looking for a safe vehicle for your child to drive, such as a scooter or motorcycle, and don’t have a large budget, then this is an excellent option.
The Microlino is a Level 1 charger that plugs into an AC plug. It charges the car within four hours. Electricity costs would be minimal and on par with those of a standard large appliance.
I knew I wanted that car the moment I saw it. Sometimes I choose my Product of the week based on the amount I want to buy the thing. This is especially true when I am not allowed to purchase it, as was the case in this instance. Microlino, therefore, is my Product of the Day.
I’d love to buy one.