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He said the best hydrogen fuel cell technology doesn't compare to the energy density of lithium-ion batteries

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has made his view on hydrogen fuel cell cars clear: they're bullshit.

In a a speech at a new Tesla service center in Germany, Musk told employees and enthusiasts that those who oppose electric vehicles (EV) but are onboard with new technology like hydrogen fuel cell cars need to know that it's more of a marketing gimmick than a real clean energy solution. 

 “And then they’ll say certain technologies like fuel cell … oh god … fuel cell is so bullshit. Except in a rocket," said Musk.

More specifically, Musk said that even the best hydrogen fuel cell technology doesn't compare to the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, such as that found in Tesla's Model S. 

Check out the video below for Musk's comments, which start at the 29-minute mark:


Musk may hold this opinion because his company only offers EVs for the time being, but not all automakers feel that hydrogen fuel cell is a waste of time.

Earlier this month, Toyota said it was passing up EVs in favor of more hybrids and its first hydrogen fuel cell release in 2015. According to Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, EV batteries need at least two major breakthroughs before they can replace gasoline or hybrid vehicles. 
 
"The reason why Toyota doesn’t introduce any major [all-electric product] is because we do not believe there is a market to accept it,” said Uchiyamada. "I personally expect a lot from this hydrogen fuel cell technology. If government and industry work together, this might be part of the long-term solution."

Back in July, General Motors (GM) and Honda announced that they'd team up for fuel cell vehicle technology as well. They hope to commercialize the technology by 2020. 

However, GM still has a foot in the EV market as well. In fact, it wants to directly compete with Tesla by offering a 200-mile affordable EV. Tesla said it is working on a new vehicle with the same range, which aims to be more affordable than the current Model S. GM is also gunning for Tesla with luxury Cadillac EVs

Others onboard with Musk's love for EVs is Volkswagen, which wants to lead the EV market by 2018 starting with the eGolf and eUp!, and Nissan, which has upped its EV efforts by cutting purchase and lease prices of the all-electric Leaf and even offering free charging for a year to Leaf owners in Texas (and eventually other states).

Tesla is certainly a superpower in the EV startup realm. The company successfully paid off its $465 million government loans nine years early, pulled a surprise profit for Q2 2013 with a revenue of $405.1 million, unveiled new tech for its Model S (swappable battery tech) and the Model S even snagged the highest safety rating from the NHTSA. It makes sense that Musk would try to keep this momentum going by advocating EVs over hydrogen fuel cells. 

Source: Wired



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RE: Quite frankly, he's right
By flyingpants1 on 10/24/2013 3:08:37 AM , Rating: 2
The question is when will we see new batteries? I imagine we'll be seeing iterative improvements on the current lithium ion technology for a very long while. Auto manufacturers have improved upon ICEs for so long with stuff like VVT, CVT, small turbodiesels, etc. I'm interested to see what they do with EVs.

Might sound obvious but the key to EV range is aerodynamics. You can't improve very much on the electric drivetrain like you can with an ICE, it's already very efficient. What you can do is redesign the vehicle body glide push through the air more easily, wasting less energy.

If you could hit 210Wh/mile at highway speeds (very simple to do) in a car like $63k Model S, you'd already be able to make 350 mile trips with currently-existing battery technology. I think that's a realistic target for the future.


RE: Quite frankly, he's right
By Jaybus on 10/24/2013 3:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
You're talking constant speed on the Utah Salt Flats, right? Not the rest of the real world. Starts and stops and uphill climbs have much more to do with mass than aerodynamics. Heating and A/C? Toyota has been pretty savvy in the past about these things, and they are waiting on future battery breakthroughs because, well, the current battery tech is simply not good enough. It's not a matter of engineering. It's a matter of science. Until there is a battery technology with higher energy density, we need hybrids. I can certainly tell you that the range anxiety for a Leaf is very high here in the mountains of East Tennessee.


RE: Quite frankly, he's right
By flyingpants1 on 10/24/2013 8:55:14 PM , Rating: 2
What? The Model S already does 280Wh/mile. The Leaf can already do 210Wh/mile. It is optimistic, but then we are still working with cars that have a 0.23 drag coefficient, not 0.2 as is possible.

quote:
Starts and stops and uphill climbs have much more to do with mass than aerodynamics.


Uh yeah.. I was talking about highway speeds in my post. Air resistance is the single most important factor when driving at highway speeds. In city driving, the Model S 85 can already reach 425+ miles..

quote:
Toyota has been pretty savvy in the past about these things, and they are waiting on future battery breakthroughs because


Because they're the world's largest ICE manufacturer and they don't want to instantly obsolete all of their previous vehicles and wipe out decades of R&D.

quote:
the current battery tech is simply not good enough. It's not a matter of engineering. It's a matter of science.


A $10k battery could get you 200 miles, that's pretty good.

quote:
I can certainly tell you that the range anxiety for a Leaf is very high here in the mountains of East Tennessee.


Luckily, most of us do not live in the mountains of East Tennessee.


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