Remember the future? It was supposed to be hydrogen-powered. At least that was what energy and auto industry leaders were saying for most of the past decade or so. That was before everyone’s attention turned to lithium-powered battery cars.
Suddenly, hydrogen — and the fuel cell vehicles it was supposed to power — has dropped from the headlines. But not from the highway. Despite the attention being lavished on battery power, these days, and the hefty incentives being ladled out by both Washington and plenty of governments abroad, fuel cell technology is alive and well and still very well could become the truly clean and efficient technology of the future.
Just ask Hyundai or Daimler AG. Both automakers have made it clear they’re not giving up on hydrogen power in recent days.
The Korean maker is broadly hinting that it could bring a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to the U.S. as early as 2012, a model that it suggests would look like a downsized version of the Mercedes R-Class crossover/van.
That would likely be a test program, but the maker has also said it plans to begin commercial fuel-cell vehicle, or FCV, production by 2015.