Tesla CEO Elon Musk: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars are "Bulls**t"
October 23, 2013 1:18 PM
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He said the best hydrogen fuel cell technology doesn't compare to the energy density of lithium-ion batteries
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.
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Dr. Kenneth Noisewater
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater
10/24/2013 12:00:38 PM
Wrong, there's hydrogen distribution systems that have been around for decades if not centuries.
Of course, that hydrogen's locked up with carbon atoms. But piggybacking local gasoline/diesel/natgas reformulation on the existing mature and pervasive HC infrastructure would be a way to go to H2 fuel cell vehicles. And if you could do such reformulation efficiently enough to get say 20kWh out of a gallon of gas, and a fuel cell EV could get 3-4mi per kWH, then you've got 60-80mpg there.
However, if we can't get fuel cells (or onboard solid-oxide fuel cells that accept hydrocarbons directly) down to $60-80/kWh it's economically a nonstarter IMO. The ideal is to have SOFCs of 100kW or thereabouts, which fit within the space required of a typical I4 or V6, and a battery large enough to bring it up to operating temps fairly quickly along with local travel range (say usable 20kWh with plugin).
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