Despite boasting several advantages, including refuelling time and overall efficiency, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are loosing badly to battery-powered electric vehicles, (BEVs) a study by the University of Michigan found.
The study, authored by Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak of the university’s Transportation Research Institute, concluded that limited infrastructure is likely the largest contributor to the slow pace of growth for FCVs.
In fact, most of the fuel-cell infrastructure that does exist is limited to Los Angeles and San Francisco-Bay areas, according to
the website of the California Fuel Cell Partnership.
The research also cites a previous study that placed the cost of construction for a hydrogen refuelling station at several times what a traditional gasoline station can cost.
But if that infrastructure is in place, hydrogen may better mimic consumers current transportation habits.
Unlike electric vehicles, which can require hours of recharging after expending their range, hydrogen vehicles refuel much like gasoline-powered cars do.
Schoettle and Sivak created hypothetical trips of varying distances in each vehicle type to illustrate how dramatically BEVs are effected by these recharging times, especially over longer distances.
The study also found that hydrogen cars are actually more efficient than BEVs considering the up-stream costs of producing the fuel, yet they remain almost as expensive to operate as gasoline-powered ones.
However, each of these new fuel sources are in some ways compromises from good old-fashioned gasoline,
“No alternative fuel sources have the energy density, ease of use, and ease of transport as current liquid fossil (i.e., hydrocarbon) fuels,” the authors wrote.
In other words, if there is a perfect solution, it certainly isn’t here yet.
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