VW CEO suggests fuel cell technology isn’t the answer, no
Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess was bashing hydrogen vehicles on Twitter this week in an attempt to convince German chancellor candidates not to embrace the technology. With Angela Merkel declaring she will not run for a fifth term, the country is open to new leadership and VW would not want them to take a liking to hydrogen when it placed all its eggs in the electric vehicle basket. .
“It has been proven that the hydrogen car is NOT the climate solution”, Diess wrote on Twitter in German. “In transport, electrification prevailed. Sham debates are a waste of time. Please listen to the science! “
It is rare to see an automotive executive take such a bold stance against any alternative energy solution, as many manufacturers have spent the past decade hedging their bets by investing in both battery-powered electric cars and those using hydrogen. But the latter’s infrastructure is far from ready to accommodate widespread adoption, and the fuel production process has not made the kind of breakthrough that makes it seem like it would deliver real benefits.
Diess addressed his comments to Armin Laschet (leader of the German Christian Democratic Union), Olaf Scholz (German finance minister), Annalena Baerbock (Green Party candidate) and Andreas Scheuer (German transport minister). His words were accompanied by a report of Handelsblatt covering a study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, alleging that pursuing hydrogen vehicles at their current level of technology would likely do more harm than good to the environment.
Frankly, the benefits of all alternative energy solutions tend to be overstated by interested parties. But hydrogen fuel cell technologies seem to represent the biggest gap between what is currently possible and what everyone hoped to achieve. The big concern is that the amount of energy required to produce and move hydrogen in significant volumes seems to result in a scenario where you are spending more energy than if you simply skip the whole ordeal.
Despite their own waste issues, electric vehicles appear to be a much more viable option with progress noted. Of course, automakers don’t want to be left in the dust if a miracle breakthrough in hydrogen production or governments start pushing fuel – so there are still a decent number of brands perpetuating their commitment to the technology. fuel cells.
Volkswagen is not one of them and has been quite critical of the hydrogen, although it often depends on making statements about ‘trusting the science’ rather than providing a detailed breakdown of why. for which it probably won’t work. As it stands, electric vehicles are much more efficient in terms of total well-to-wheel energy consumption. This, and the national energy grids serving as the existing base on which to build recharging networks, has made them the dominant form of alternative energy vehicles.
With your author constantly complaining about how less convenient EVs are than advertised, thanks in large part to lackluster (but growing) infrastructure, it’s impossible to switch to hydrogen. Outside of the Asia Pacific, the California coast, and a few European hotspots, there is virtually no proper refueling network. This effectively requires owners to drive exclusively in these regions or carry gas canisters sized to fit inside a space rocket. It also explains why Japanese and Korean brands are increasingly interested in fuel and tend to spend the most money on developing FCEVs.
But electrification is currently being boosted by government around the world, and if Germany starts playing the favorites with hydrogen, there is a chance that automakers will ignore it, which could give itself a blow. foot in a few years – as unlikely and inefficient in energy as it seems now.