Hydrogen cars Vs Electric Cars: Which is Better? Comparison

Vehicles powered by hydrogen and electricity have been used for decades. Today, this is one of the most promising areas in the automotive industry, so the debate is about whether Is hydrogen better than electric cars. Is it only zero emissions that attract investors, and who has the advantage in comparison of Hydrogen cars Vs Electric Cars?

Hydrogen cars Vs Electric Cars

history of hydrogen better than electric cars Technologies

Hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine technology is by no means new. In the first half of the 19th century, it was invented by François Isaac de Rivas, using the method of electrolysis of water to produce fuel. 

Until the 1980s, in the US, Germany, Canada, Japan, and the USSR, the production of gas and gasoline-fueled vehicles was considered experimental, if you do not take into account the forced transition to hydrogen in the former Soviet Union during World War II.

The history of electric vehicles is no less rich and long, but this mode of transport has become popular relatively recently. The reason for this can be called the trend towards environmental friendliness that arose in the early 2000s. And here the idea of ​​​​a car with zero exhaust emissions turned out to be more relevant than ever. 

For a number of reasons, only electric cars were suitable for this title, but the first production models had a limited range on a single charge. This is where hydrogen comes in handy. They are again interested in large automakers such as Toyota and Hyundai. 

Hydrogen cars vs electric cars: Advantages and disadvantages

If at first the concerns mastered the development of hybrids like the BMW Hydrogen 7 , which also used gasoline, then today manufacturers are more likely to talk about the prospect of using hydrogen fuel cells. 

They will replace batteries, the main source of power for electric vehicles, in order to increase the range of the car and “untie” it from the distance between refueling.

Thus, the Chinese state-owned company SIAC announced that it plans to release more than a dozen models of a new formation by 2025 and launch the production of hydrogen fuel cells. This statement is fully in line with the country’s economic program: in 2030, China plans to open 1,000 specialized gas stations.

Hydrogen transport is promising, and the safety of its use in practice is proved by the sales of Toyota Mirai: in 2019 alone, more than 1,500 cars of this model were purchased in the world. However, this industry also has its own ” pitfalls “:

  1. High cost of fuel production. To obtain hydrogen by electrolysis, expensive catalysts and an energy-intensive liquefaction process are required: approximately 10–14 kWh is required per 1 kg of hydrogen. In addition, in order to meet the needs of all cars in the country, the states will have to increase the daily consumption of electricity consumption by several times (theoretically, as is the case with electric vehicles).
  2. Difficulties in the organization of industrial storage of hydrogen and the requirement to comply with special operating rules when refueling or transporting fuel. Moreover, storage is more expensive than its production due to high safety requirements.
  3. Lack of gas station infrastructure.

Against this background, electric transport looks like a more profitable option, especially since gas stations have long gone beyond the California area.

Are hydrogen cars more efficient than electric cars?

Are hydrogen cars more efficient than electric cars?

Let’s compare the performance and cost of operating vehicles on hydrogen and electricity:

Indexelectric carhydrogen car
Efficiency (according to a study by the US Department of Energy) 86 to 95% (depending on the machine model and operating conditions)83% (Toyota Mirai hybrid, maximum) 
average cost Nissan Leaf II 2018 release  $29,990.
Tesla Model 3 Standard (2020) Range Plus $40,000
Toyota Mirai from $57,500. (2017 model with 3,000 km)
Resource consumptionTesla Model S – 16.4 kWh/100 km (6.1 km/kWh) 
Nissan Leaf – 13.1 kWh/100 km (7.6 km/kWh)
Toyota Mirai up to 5 kg of hydrogen (122.4 liters per 650 km)

Charging stations for electric cars charge not for the amount of electricity consumed, but for the connection time. Based on this, it is possible to calculate how much the owner will end up spending on one trip in a particular region, refueling with hydrogen or powered by electricity from a home or commercial charge point. 

And since there are few operating filling stations for hydrogen cars worldwide, it will be necessary to operate with the theoretical cost of foreign gas. 

The last point kills the rationality of using hydrogen cars. The network of electric charging stations significantly wins in this regard.

Development prospects of Hydrogen and electric cars

However, not everything is so sad about the development of hydrogen transport in the world. According to the H2stations.org portal, the number of specialized filling stations reached 434 by the end of 2019. 

In the current year, information about new open points has not yet arisen. But even this indicator suggests that over the past five years, the infrastructure has almost doubled in volume.

And according to Bloomberg NEF data, in 30 years the share of hydrogen in the energy fuel market will be 24% of the total, and the price will predictably fall to the level of the cost of gas. Prior to this event, hydrogen transport is not a competitor for electric vehicles.

Hydrogen cars vs electric cars: is there really a confrontation

Such a confrontation does exist, but it is far from real roads and dealerships. A wave of talk in the style of “electron against proton” rose after the emergence of the American company Nikola Motor in the automotive market. Its owner, Trevor Milton, relied on the production of first electric trucks, and then hydrogen-powered tractors. But this story ended sadly.

But if we take our minds off the marketing battles for a moment and wonder if Milton’s business was actually competitive before the hoax was exposed? Bloomberg NEF is skeptical about the prospects for H2 across the entire commercial transport sector. 

The agency’s report says that renewable hydrogen is likely to be used primarily for heavy trucks and marine vessels. At the same time, it is possible to talk about the payback of technology, for example, for hydrogen trailers only from 2031.

The company’s experts suggest that in the niche of passenger cars and buses, electric drive will be used first of all since this will be a more economical option.

Comparing the environmental friendliness of a zero-emission electric car and the water vapor of a hydrogen-fueled car doesn’t make much sense. There will always be physicists and technologists who can calculate the costs of these vehicles. 

Often the conclusion is this: this is not a very harmless matter from the point of view of environmental pollution. How realistic it is, only time will tell. In the meantime, the confrontation between “trains” and “hydrogen” in the media and on information portals is in full swing. 

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