Today Toyota released a video showing the “exciting fuel” hydrogen, “the most abundant element in the universe,” that’s “in almost everything from water to trees to grass.”
“But the critics have been vocal,” says engineer Scott Blanchet in a dairy field, alluding to the technology for propelling cars Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said is “so bull****,” without actually naming Musk.
The Japanese automaker’s USA side produced the video showing Blanchet drive some cow manure to a digester – a big pool lagoon that releases biogas.
After that he goes to a steam methane reformer.
And you can guess the rest: They fill up a new Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle clean as you please, and go for a scenic drive in this other kind of electric car.
Although Elon Musk’s comment was never explicitly stated as coming from him in the Toyota video, and other critical quotes are named besides, his expletive has been widely published, and most everyone following this space has heard it.
The news first made the rounds in October 2013 following a long talk by Musk on myriad topics including the viability of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
“And then they’ll say certain technologies like fuel cell … fuel cell is so bull****. Except in a rocket,” said Musk.
Before Toyota began playing what some might call a passive aggressive pushback, it has spoken at length on its well-to-wheels analyses suggesting FCVs beat EVs which in turn others have said is junk science.
By law, fuel cell vehicles run in California must use 33-percent renewably sourced hydrogen. The type of hydrogen used in the video would qualify for that one-third.
The rest comes from natural gas which comes more often from fracking and true enough lots of energy is used in separating this “most abundant element” which is never found purified and ready to use in nature, no matter how abundant it is.
But the gist of the video, and as Toyota has stated, is they are starting where they are, and efficiencies will come along.
In some ways it is not unlike EV advocates who say better batteries will come along too – while what is out now is good enough to get started converting way from internal combustion.
In common is both technologies are taking off slowly with more growth expected.
Of the two, plug-in cars have a multi-year head start and by this year globally one million will have been produced and sold.
For its part Toyota has picked its path, is investing billions, and perhaps its U.S. arm thought it would be funny to turn about the words of a critic, even if it does not mention that most illustrious critic by name.