Are FCVs a good idea?
With a third major manufacturer due to begin offering subsidized fuel cell vehicles in California this year, the public’s imagination has been alternately captivated by FCVs’ potential or in cases incensed over the alleged effrontery.
To say it’s been a controversial topic for some would be an understatement. But beyond Honda, Hyundai and soon Toyota, at least five more automakers are working toward a nationwide hydrogen future with the blessings of policymakers and regulators.
Further, many observers are on board with the message of these different kinds of electric vehicles that refuel in five minutes or less, go hundreds of miles on a tank, and emit nothing but water vapor.
Pushing against the tide, critics meanwhile allege conspiracy to keep “big oil” and other entrenched interests in business, questionable cost-benefit analyses, questionable well-to-wheel analyses and more.
Given that FCVs involve myriad interlaced scientific variables projected into an unknown future, many on the sidelines may also find their minds going numb if they try to wade into all the details and what-if questions.
So, perhaps not unlike other endeavors which have proponents and detractors at odds over claims of wholesomeness – or not so much – onward we go toward a “Hydrogen Society” as plug-in battery powered vehicles also race to get better.
Summed up, FCV selling points center on increasing infrastructure, economies of scale, cutting costs, and developing ways to capitalize upon the universe’s most widely available element.
“Mercedes-Benz is working hard to harness the power of the most abundant element in the known universe.” says the German automaker in just one example of glowing marketing speak. “In other words, zero-emission hydrogen power. 0.0 emissions that means it is invisible to the environment.”
Sounds great, right? But could FCVs be a Trojan Horse? That is, could their natural-gas derived, publicly funded hydrogen agenda be something embraced by many who focus on the benefits while undesirable ramifications remain undetected or overlooked?
So go the accusations of critics while many more see the glass at least half full and due to get fuller still – as renewably sourced hydrogen, say proponents, comes increasingly online.
To comprehensively tackle all issues would be more than one article could adequately cover. What’s more, unity on the subject even among those with a solid grasp of the science and myriad variables besides has thus far not been achieved.
So, just to provoke discussion and further inquiry, following are some points to ponder by various critics.