Hybrids delaying fuel-cells and other technologies?

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Hybrids delaying fuel-cells and other technologies?

Hybrids delaying fuel-cells and other technologies?

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To most, hybrid vehicles like the Prius are a step in the right direction towards a future of ‘greener’ motoring but a new study has found that such cars are actually holding back other alternative powertrain technologies like hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and all-electric cars. French researchers have found that a “misinformed craze” surrounding hybrids has delayed other technologies and is drawing a majority of research dollars.

Petrol-electric hybrids are not environmentally sustainable because they still rely on fossil fuels, however carmakers are still pouring millions of dollars into improving the technology instead of focusing on better alternatives. There’s also the fact that many modern diesel vehicles and even some petrol compact cars achieve much better mileage figures than hybrid halo cars like the Prius.

Consumers are convinced that hybrids are the solution, researchers Jean-Jacques Chanaron and Julius Teske claim in their paper Hybrid Vehicles: A Temporary Step."There is a general convergence of strategies toward promoting hybrid vehicles as the mid-term solution to very low-emissions and high-mileage vehicles," the researchers say. "But a convergence is based more on customer perception triggered by very clever marketing and communications campaigns than on pure rational scientific arguments and may result in the need for any manufacturer operating in the U.S. to have a hybrid electric vehicle in its model range in order to survive."

Fortunately, there are carmakers out there pushing for alternatives. We’ve already seen Tesla’s all-electric roadster and next month Pininfarina will unveil a 700hp fuel-cell concept so there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
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Comments (7)
  1. I couldn't agree more with this article, i have always disliked hybrids as they are not more frugal than diesel hatchback of similar size yet cost more. Just a shame that most consumers are too stupid to realise and will simply keep buying hybrids.

  2. It has long been argued that hybrids were not all that but were a mere stepping stone to greener alternatives. Toyota's marketing dollars went a long way but hopefully Honda's fuel cell/diesels will usher in a new era.

  3. Alan; are you living in North America? there's a huge dearth of low sulfur diesel pumping stations in North America. Hybrids are successful here because the run on the same fuel.

    Personally, (and again, I'm an electrical engineer here people) Hybrids will extend our knowlege of batteries, which are likely to pay off more-so than hydrogen fuel cells. To me it all comes back to the whole hydrogen production process in the first place. you have to make hydrogen, and the only industrial scale process is to split water with electricity. and then you have to pump the hydrogen to stations across the nation? why dont we take that electricity, and send it through a WIRE... to my GARAGE... where i can CHARGE my car.

    remember, fuel cells are just a fancy way of making electricity. you can only get as much electricity out of a hydrogen fuel cell as it took to split the water at the factory in the first place. why not send that electricity to my house? Battery technology is much cheaper and much more reliable than fuel cells are today, and that will likely be the case 10 years from now.

    Battery technology keeps progressing and has the potential to become (in theory) much more WEIGHT EFFICIENT (which is what really matters here) than fuel cells. In theory, a fuel cell can only ever make as much electricity as what was used to split the water that your fuel cell car is now carrying.

    Battery technology WILL be the standard. Trust me on this. Fuel cells are just a certain type of battery.

  4. I totally agree with this article, I hate hybrids and the people that drive them for acting like they're any better than the rest of us. It's god damn annoying hearing people say that hybrids are this and hybrids are that when you fully know that person doesn't know shit about cars. And in university that happens a LOT.

    I don't think that hydrogen is a viable alternative either. Chris made some good points about the energy needed to split the water. But the task of an infrastructure is HUGE. We would need refineries, pipelines, train and truck tankers, and filling stations. That's like taking the whole gas industry and rebuilding it, and I've heard people say that it's not going to be hard to start using hydrogen, really !?!?!, because that sounds pretty hard and expensive to me. Gas cars will die off eventually and I dread the day but I will recognize that electric cars are the way of the future. Our society is already trying to produce clean energy with nuclear plants, water and wind power. Eventually making that electricity won't be AS bad as it is now and we already have an infrastructure to do so. Hydrogen is just hype, electricity is the future.

  5. Hybrids delaying fuel cells?

    How are hybrids delaying fuel cells when there is no hydrogen highway, nor any interest amongst either consumers nor politicians to build one?

    And, let's review hybrids versus clean diesel. First, hybrids are only just emerging and technologies like lithium and capacitors will make even gasoline hybrids much more fuel efficient and cleaner than diesel. Second, hybrid technology can make diesel vehicles much more fuel efficient as well. Third, what similar sized diesel achieves much better than 50 mpg in the worst stop and go traffic? That's right, there ISN"T ONE.

    In the end, the upside potential of hybrids is huge, diesel is almost tapped out. Sure clean diesel can compete with hybrids today, but not tomorrow.

    But, then again, 100+ mpg hybrids, such as those demonstrated by Hymotion or HybridsPlus, are such a waste of time, right? If we all just convert to diesel or wish the hydrogen highway into reality, the world will be funky-doory!

    BTW - Part of the reason that Toyota developed the Hybrid Synergy Drive was so that it could begin mass-producing much of the electric drive components that its fuel cell vehicles will use. More evidence the Prius is killing fuel cell vehicles I suppose?

  6. yikes, I am with chris here. its not about better mileage performance and still having smog in your face but its about pushing the consumers closer to the right direction of electric cars, without going bankrupt. There r still millions of you there want nothing but power and cheap price. But not really considering the overall solution. This is where we are right now and there r plenty of you who would not like to change the style of refueling at a Gas station and we do not want to shut down gas station and lose all those jobs.
    This report is stupid, No one is preventing anybody from researching or making a big leap into electric cars or any other. you don't even have to go to mass production but just have to fill in the gap and solve this consumer problems and nuclear power(war) or alternative (like what? ). Big decision here, your not helping but just using. LoL

  7. Looks they forgot to give us a list of all of the highly profitable fuel cell vehicles out there and their sales numbers. Oh wait, thats because there are none! There are about a million hybrids on the road, most of them sold profitably by Toyota. And yet, the hybrids did not stop Toyota from developing fuel cell vehicles. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/08/toyotas_fine-n_1.php They also don't seem to realize that pretty much any fuel cell vehicle will also be a hybrid, so that most of the technology being developed for gasoline-electric hybrids will also be applicable for fuel cell-electric hybrids. See the link above. (it's like that stupid hybrid vs diesel debate. It doesn't make sense, since you can have both. Diesel-hybrid buses and trains exist, and a Peugeot car will come out soon too).
    And this is even funnier: "such as viable fuel-cell cars that can use sustainably sourced fuels, such as hydrogen." Last time I checked, there wasn't much hydrogen gas floating around (and even less that was sustainably made), nor any that was cheap. Sure, you can use solar cells to make hydrogen and then use it in a fuel cell. Nice but not efficient or cheap. Better to use that electricity and make an electric vehicle with it.

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