Toyota admits ‘Elon Musk is right’ about fuel cell, but moves forward with
Oct. 26th 2017 Fred Lambert
For years, Toyota has been betting on hydrogen fuel cell over
battery-electric vehicles for its zero-emission vehicle strategy. It put the
Japanese automaker behind in the electric transition in the industry.
Now Toyota admits that Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who called hydrogen fuel cell
“incredibly dumb”, “is right,” but the company is still heavily investing in
Musk has often publicly commented on his dislike of hydrogen fuel cell as an
energy storage system for vehicles.
For most people, the physics of fuel cell vehicles make little sense
compared to battery-powered vehicles.
Between hydrogen production, distribution, and storage, a fuel cell vehicle
ends up being just a third as efficient as a battery-powered vehicle getting
its power from the same grid as the electrolysis plant making the hydrogen.
The entire process is just extremely more complex than a battery-powered
The refueling speed is virtually the only advantage of a hydrogen car. You
can refuel a hydrogen car in about 5 minutes while a battery-powered car can
take hours to charge and even the fastest systems take over an hour.
But that gap is getting closer every year and hydrogen cars can’t be
refueled at home, while any electric car can charge overnight.
That’s the argument that Elon Musk and most EV enthusiasts bring forward
when comparing the two technologies.
Surprisingly, Yoshikazu Tanaka, the chief engineer in charge of Toyota’s
Mirai, admitted to Reuters this week that plug-in cars make more sense:
“Elon Musk is right – it’s better to charge the electric car directly by
But Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada adds that they don’t see the two
technologies competing and that they are not giving up on hydrogen (yet):
“We don’t really see an adversary ‘zero-sum’ relationship between the EV
(electric vehicle) and the hydrogen car. We’re not about to give up on
hydrogen electric fuel-cell technology at all.”
They want to keep pushing the Mirai, which has been a poor performer. They
only managed to sell a few as compliance cars in California despite the
He is not wrong that the two technologies don’t compete. They don’t compete
in the minds of potential customers, but they compete for investments from
automakers and those investments lead to further development and production
for one or the other.
It becomes clear when you look at automakers who have been heavily investing
in hydrogen cars, like Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai, and see that they have
become laggers in the EV space.
The sooner they give up on hydrogen, at least for passenger cars, the sooner
they will be able to divert those billions of dollars in investments into
battery-electric vehicles. I say passenger cars because Toyota is also
working on hydrogen trucks, which make better economic sense.
But for passenger cars, it makes no sense based on efficiency and economics,
which makes it hard to understand why some automakers are still pushing so
hard for it ...
Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Car Push 'Dumb'? Toyota Makes a Case For The Mirai
October 26, 2017 ... which usually goes to waste when unused, and
electricity generated by solar and ... “Elon Musk is right - it's better to
charge the electric car directly by plugging in,” ...
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