Bovag and KNAC: consumers are happy with hydrogen

Hydrogen seems to be snowing under in the rapid advance of battery-electric cars. But consumers still believe in it, according to a study conducted by KNAC and Bovag. Conversations that Techzle recently held with scientists, captains of industry and other experts about fuel cell technology provide a more nuanced picture.

Bovag and KNAC had a group of 1,275 motorists questioned, including more than 200 lease drivers. A large part of the respondents mentioned the lack of a heavy battery pack as one of the great advantages of fuel cell cars. The impact of batteries on the environment and the fact that hydrogen refueling is faster than charging batteries also creates hope among consumers for this form of transport in the future. The respondents also see disadvantages. These include the (as yet) lack of filling stations, the high (also as yet) high purchase price of FCEVs and the potential dangers due to the explosive nature of H2. Some of the respondents also say that they believe that hydrogen technology is not as green as is often claimed.

Ashwani Gupta, COO / CPO Nissan, agrees with Techzle: “The well-to-wheel CO2 emissions are much higher with a fuel cell vehicle than with a battery-electric car.” Gupta therefore answers very firmly when asked whether Nissan will use its H2 technology in passenger cars: “No. We focus on plug-in hybrid and battery-electric.”

We do not have to expect any major leaps from Mercedes-Benz in that area for the time being, CEO Ola Källenius tells Techzle: “I think we have shown impressively what an adult fuel cell car could look like. Looking at the next five to ten years from a business perspective, we have to conclude that battery-electric will predominate for passenger cars. So that’s what we’re focusing on. ” Nevertheless, Källenius certainly sees opportunities for hydrogen on the road: “The hydrogen horse is still in the race, but in our opinion for specific purposes.”

Anne-Lise Richard, head of the Low Emission Vehicles Business Unit at PSA, is also looking at it: “We think that hydrogen is especially interesting for large companies, because they have the means to invest in their own filling stations, which, as you know, are very expensive. They are then dependent on their own filling station. “

Coby van der Linde, director of the Clingendael International Energy Program (CIEP), sees hydrogen as a supplement: “The share of electric cars is growing, but it is not the only solution. There may be regions where investments in the electricity grid are so high that you shouldn’t want that there. Then you can drive on biofuels or hydrogen there. That’s why I foresee a future with multiple possibilities. “

That is in line with the vision of Thiebault Paquet, director of powertrains at Toyota Motors Europe, with the Toyota Mirai, of which a second generation is eagerly awaiting, perhaps the most prominent advocate for hydrogen in passenger cars: “We do not believe that, especially at the moment. , one technology can offer the solution. We have to look at different markets, some of which already have very green energy. (..) It is wrong to see BEV and FCEV as competitors. If we want to solve the CO2 problem, we have to bring several techniques together. “

The above quotes come from an extensive background story about the future of hydrogen, Lost in Transition, in the Techzle 2021 special that is now in stores.

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