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Transportation Earth Government Japan

Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-a-bit-easier-being-green dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Toyota is on track to launch the first consumer fuel-cell car in Japan next year, and the country's Prime Minister says the government wants to assist the new alternative to gas-driven vehicles. Shinzo Abe announced that Japan will offer subsidies of almost $20,000 for fuel cell cars, which will decrease the Toyota model's cost by about 28%. He said, "This is the car of a new era because it doesn't emit any carbon dioxide and it's environmentally friendly. The government needs to support this. Honda is also planning to release a fuel-cell car next year, but experts expect widespread adoption to take decades, since hydrogen fuel station infrastructure is still in its infancy."
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Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

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  • by kheldan (1460303) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:21PM (#47489485) Journal
    You want people to adopt electric cars and hybrids in greater numbers sooner? You want to wean the general populace off of fossil fuels? This is how you do it! Of all the complete wastes of money the U.S. government commits, this comparatively speaking would be a drop in the bucket and of great long-term benefit to the entire country. While we're at it how about they sink some money into electric vehicle support infrastructure like rapid charging stations, too?
    • by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:37PM (#47489605)

      no, this is not how you do it, wasting my tax dollars on 28 percent overpriced uneconomical $70k luxury vehicle that has payback period in over a decade...

      • by JMJimmy (2036122)

        You mean like they did for SUVs/Trucks in 1997 with the $25,000 tax break for small businesses buying a vehicle over 6,000lbs? Which if that wasn't bad enough they extended to $100,000 in 2003?

        • citation needed. link or it didn't happen.
          • by tomhath (637240)
            The question was whether an SUV should be treated as a truck or a car under Section 179, just a different way to calculate depreciation [cpapracticeadvisor.com].
          • by JMJimmy (2036122)

            http://law.lclark.edu/live/fil... [lclark.edu] a detailed paper on the matter if you'd prefer. Note to those who think this might be a "democrat vs republican" thing - Clinton enacted the deduction, Bush extended it, something they could all agree on.

            http://www.skeptically.org/oil... [skeptically.org] for another summary of it, though horribly biased in its language.

            • ty. a very interesting point, something I hadn't known about. The law review article has a relevant example. It gave the scenario of "Tom", a self-employed realtor who was choosing between a $50k Mercedes sedan and $50k mercedes ultra-suv. The loophole provided a $13k incentive for him to choose the SUV. However, your original quote of $25k is misleading, because Tom would also get a tax deduction (albeit a smaller one) for the mercedes sedan.
              • by JMJimmy (2036122)

                It's not misleading, my point wasn't that SUVs got a bigger tax break than cars, it was that the US government uses your tax dollars to subsidize auto purchases. There have been smaller ones for plugin vehicles and hybrids as well.

                • by sumdumass (711423)

                  It really is misleading because it doesn't give a bigger tax break, it allows the tax breaks to be realized sooner.

                  In other words, outside of expensing which is limited to 25k
                  (maintenance, fuel, and so on as a cost rather than a standard mileage), the depreciation differences are only in that you can depreciate a truck faster then a passenger car. This actually makes sense because if the SUV didn't exist and a 6000 lbs truck was being used for work, it would wear out faster than a passenger car and need rep

                  • by JMJimmy (2036122)

                    You buy a $50k SUV, you pay $10,500 less in taxes in year 1 and in year 2 ~$3,500 less (using Rogers example). In year 3 it's depreciated value is $10k and you sell it for $35k paying 15% capital gains - your effective cost for those 3 years (excluding other factors) is $7,500. Doing that exact thing with a car the 3 year cost is $15,250 due to the difference in depreciation.

                    Usually though you're going to be buying another vehicle and you'll be able to depreciate again so that $10,500 will offset the $5,

          • by haruchai (17472)

            If no one provides a link to a story about the Big Bang, does that mean the Universe doesn't exist?
            In this universe, we have search engines. Perhaps you might have inadvertently used one but I see you've recovered nicely from that misstep.

          • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

            citation needed. link or it didn't happen.

            Ask ,and ye shall recieve citizen

            http://www.selfemployedweb.com... [selfemployedweb.com]

            Questions?

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          that stinks too, should not have happened. your point?

          • by JMJimmy (2036122)

            That it happens all the time - it's just the way governments do business without actually changing the standard tax rate which is a lot more problematic politically.

          • by DrXym (126579)
            The point since it eludes you is that governments have overarching policy objectives and subsidies are one way they can steer individuals and the market to reach them. In the case of Japan, I expect they are highly desirous of lowering their dependency of foreign oil and so they're stimulating interest and demand in alternatives.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Japan understands that the future is with new types of engine - hybrid, electric, fuel cell, something else. If Japan is to stay the world leader it has to develop these technologies, get the patents, get the knowledge and expertise, get the market before anyone else even comes in to it. They already pretty much own the hybrid market, for example, and most the non-Japanese hybrid system are based on licensed Japanese technology anyway.

        The American car industry is dying. Japanese manufacturers are already wi

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          yes, Japanese and Korean internal combustion powered cars are HUGE in the US market. That has nothing to do with the miniscule amount of electric cars in the USA, of course.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jbmartin6 (1232050)
      Why not? Because if you hand out $20,000 to buy a car, you just increase the price of every car by $20,000. It is basic economics. We can see the same effect in housing prices, health care, and college tuition.
      • But they're not doing it for all cars, just *specific* cars. When there's a $1 off coupon on Coke products available, does Pepsi suddenly cost $1 more? No, but Pepsi now has to try harder to match.

        Similarly, all this does is knock $20k off the price of the fuel efficient car, making the $20k Gas Guzzlers and $45k alternate fuel cars closer in price.

        • An excellent point. But what do you think the business will do when someone else is handing out money to buy their new product? At the very least, any incentive they have to control costs or reduce prices just went out the window. The Coke analogy isn't quite right since that price is long established by market competition, and coupons are typically backed by the manufacturer or the reseller, i.e. someone in the sales chain, as opposed to some third party whose only involvement is handing out money. In othe
        • Or if you like, Coke v. Pepsi is not a good analogy because those products are substitutes for each other. A hydrogen fuel cell car is not a substitute for a gas car, people will not simply switch from one to the other due to price concerns. There are a lot of other factors, such as availability of fueling stations, proximity to qualified service providers, and so on. So the people who will buy the fuel cell car are going to buy one regardless. all this handout will do is add the $20k to the price for the m
      • This is not basic economics but a brain dead attitude!
        Why should the price for my Mercedes change if the government is subsidizing a random car? The random car is not a competitor to my Mercedes, the BMW and the Porsche next corner are!

      • by mysidia (191772)

        Why not? Because if you hand out $20,000 to buy a car, you just increase the price of every car by $20,000. It is basic economics.

        OK... would it please you if they implement their subsidy by creating a $10,000 tax on the purchase or transfer of any vehicle; used or new? Then waive that tax for buyers of a new or used certified hydrogen-only vehicle and pay the manufacturer $10,000 directly, for each one sold.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ganjadude (952775)
          no.

          how it SHOULD work is simple

          car company builds car

          car buyer buys car

          end of discussion, the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, I was against the hybrid tax subsidies just as well its not fair to the rest of us who are stuck driving older cars to assist in your payment of your new toy
          • by mysidia (191772)

            end of discussion, the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers

            The problem is the government is already unfairly picking winners and already subsidizing fossil fuel vehicles by failing to require that manufacturers and operators of fossil fuel vehicles pay for the pollution they generate in order to internalize the externalities.

            The fact is.... new development is always expensive. And, economics doesn't favor improvement of society, when the actors are not required to pay

            • by ganjadude (952775)
              just because they do something wrong means they should do more wrong?? no, just no
              • by mysidia (191772)

                just because they do something wrong means they should do more wrong?? no, just no

                Except it's not something "more wrong"; it is just something you seem to disagree that they should do. A number of consumers might have already made an investment to purchase a fossil fuel vehicle, and therefore, have a conflict of interest in regards to this matter which disqualifies them from making a fair judgement about the cost to society as a whole and the public of allowing citizens to operate such equipment.

                I am

                • by ganjadude (952775)
                  i just dont want the government taxing taxes from one group of people to pay for the toys of others. simple as that. that goes for these cars and anything else that gets subsided which is not needed for living.
            • by Rei (128717)

              That doesn't mean deciding that one particular alternative is the right one. If there are externalities not being taken into account, tax/fine for them.

            • The problem is the government is already unfairly picking winners and already subsidizing fossil fuel vehicles
              by failing to require that manufacturers and operators of fossil fuel vehicles pay for the pollution they generate in order to internalize the externalities.

              Have they done any math to check this? Any thought?

              A quick trip to La Wik:
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]

              The United States federal excise tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.[1][2] On average, as of April 2014, state and local taxes add 31.5 cents to gasoline and 31.0 cents to diesel, for a total US average fuel tax of 49.9 cents per gallon for gas and 55.4 cents per gallon for diesel.[3]

              About a 15% tax on energy for gas powered vehicles. What's the energy tax on all those shiny electric plug ins?

              • by mysidia (191772)

                About a 15% tax on energy for gas powered vehicles. What's the energy tax on all those shiny electric plug ins?

                They need to work on adding taxes that will cover electric plug ins, etc. The government is reluctant to do so; however, funding for transportation infrastructure has to come from somewhere ---- and it should come in proportionate amounts from those who use that infrastructure most heavily.

                This is not an energy tax per se. This is a tax largely for road usage that goes to the united states

                • They need to work on adding taxes that will cover electric plug ins, etc.
                  The government is reluctant to do so; however, funding for transportation infrastructure has to come from somewhere ---- and it should come in proportionate amounts from those who use that infrastructure most heavily.

                  Which reverses your original comment. It's the electrics that are being relatively subsidized, when compared to gas/diesel powered cars.

                  (Note that electrics are also "fossil fueled", as approximately 70% of grid power comes from fossil fuels. )

                  You originally wrote:

                  The problem is the government is already unfairly picking winners and already subsidizing fossil fuel vehicles by failing to require that manufacturers and operators of fossil fuel vehicles pay for the pollution they generate in order to internalize the externalities.

                  • by mysidia (191772)

                    Which reverses your original comment. It's the electrics that are being relatively subsidized, when compared to gas/diesel powered cars.

                    That's not true; the Net subsidy is: (Tax credits for operating vehicle) + (Uncharged Cost for Externalities). The gasoline tax is a charged cost for one specific externality: the impact on road infrastructure built using collective taxpayer funds.

                    In some areas such as London there is a congestion fee which helps charge for even more of the externalities produc

          • by Jeremi (14640)

            end of discussion, the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers

            I think the government has a legitimate national security interest in developing a transportation system that does not completely grind to a halt the day someone sets off a few nukes in the major oil-producing areas of the world.

            Hybrid and electric technology is what could make the difference between an event like that being a serious problem and it being a complete disaster.

            There's also the small issue of global warming; I think the government also has a legitimate interest in keeping Miami above water and

            • by ganjadude (952775)
              as long as we are still using (insert power of choice) it doesnt matter, a few nukes on oil fields, a few nukes on the hydro dams, a few nukes in the coal plants, hell a few nukes on a nuke plant. Unless one has self sustaining power (off grid) transportation is still tied to the grid.

              as for the cars and global warming thing, cars contribute somewhere between 1% and 5% of bad greenhouse gasses, planes big rigs, chem plants etc produce the other 95-99%, doing anything with regard to global warming in rega
              • by mysidia (191772)

                as for the cars and global warming thing, cars contribute somewhere between 1% and 5% of bad greenhouse gasses

                Greenhouse gas release is not the only negative effect of vehicle emissions. They also release materials such as CO1 and Nitrogen-based compounds with negative health effects on the local environment and human populations, they cause smog and other issues.

                Chemical plants are not mobile like Vehicles are. Emissions by chemical plants are at a fixed location and in the future can be regulated or

            • I think the government has a legitimate national security interest in developing a transportation system that does not completely grind to a halt the day someone sets off a few nukes in the major oil-producing areas of the world.

              Hybrid and electric technology is what could make the difference between an event like that being a serious problem and it being a complete disaster.

              Powered by abundant local reserves of coal! Yay!

      • More or less. What the environmental religion fails to understand is that regardless if you spend more for a "green" product, somewhere down the supply chain it's always going to end up fueling some truck that gets 4 MPG.

    • by tomhath (637240) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:41PM (#47489639)
      The US is already doing this. There are plenty of tax credits and other subsidies for hybrid vehicles, ethanol, etc.
    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:48PM (#47489677)

      This is how you do it!

      No, this is NOT how you do it. It makes sense for the government to promote and subsidize scientific research and technological development. But it does NOT make sense for governments to subsidize manufacturing. If something cannot be sold at a fair market price, then the answer is not taxpayer funded subsidies, but more R&D to develop something that actually makes sense. These subsidies usually get twisted in corporate welfare entitlements, and then can often be used to stifle progress rather then promoting it. Examples: Ethanol subsidies, and solar subsidies that have morphed into protective tariffs that raise the cost of alternative energy in order to protect inefficient producers with political connections.

      • Exactly. Handouts at the consumer end are the best way to waste a bunch of money. Not only is it inherently unfair, as a large number of taxpayers are not in a position to take advantage of the handout, but it also completely distorts the consumer market, where products that otherwise have no chance are sold only as long as the handouts are in place. Then, when the inevitable cutbacks happen, the market is up-ended because it was never balanced based on actual consumer need.

        Much of this can be avoided as
        • by CaptnZilog (33073)

          If they really wanted to help things, they'd invest the money in more charging stations (here in the US) for EVs (and push for a standard, like Tesla releasing their patents for their advanced charging system). People aren't going to spend money (or not a lot of people) on vehicles they can't actually charge very many places. Until a more country-wide infrastructure is in place, *most* people are going to stick with vehicles they can actually "fuel up" anywhere.

      • by kheldan (1460303)
        Fund R&D projects? Yes. But there will not BE cheap electric or hybrids until enough of them are sold every year to bring the manufacturing costs down enough to bring the price down enough that they are competitive, price-wise, with internal combustion vehicles. Also, face the reality: We don't have that much oil left, and we NEED to start weaning off it NOW, rather than later when it's a crisis situation. I'm not saying we should have permanent government incentives to consumers to buy electric vehicle
        • We have plenty of oil left. What we don't have is very much cheap oil. That interesting point at least allows the concept of market driven forces. Once oil is too expensive, then there will be more of a reason to switch. To be completely fair (which will never happen) we do need to cut back on the subsidies we give the fossil fuel industry. Adding differing subsidies to the mix isn't such a bright idea, but it is politically expedient.

        • ... bring the manufacturing costs down enough to bring the price down enough that they are competitive

          Per unit subsidies are the WRONG way to do this. Much better is for the government to subsidize R&D into better manufacturing techniques. Look at windmills. They were subsidized for years. Now they are mostly cost competitive, so the subsidies worked, right? WRONG! The modern cost effective windmills are completely different (and much bigger) than the windmills that were subsidized, and are mostly made by different companies. So the subsidies were mostly wasted backing the wrong horse, and makin

      • I wished /. had a feature to filter out comments of people you have marked as an enemy ...

        • I wished /. had a feature to filter out comments of people you have marked as an enemy ...

          Just go to https://slashdot.org/users.pl?op=editcomm [slashdot.org] and add a negative score modifier to push your foes below your viewing threshold. But, according to my "friend/foe" page, you don't have me listed as an enemy, so you need to do that first.

          • Oh, I would rather have you listed as dump ass, or smart ass after pointing this option out. Not literally as an enemy.
            But your post I responded to, caused me literally pain, please post more smart comments less stupid ones ...

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        So remind me, what are the most popular car brands in the US? Toyota and Honda, companies that are willing to invest vast amounts of money in new technology and get support from their government? Seems to be working pretty well for them.

    • This is how you do it except the car does not have to be 60 grand in cost, and most importantly hydrogen as fuel, liquid or compressed, is bullshit, you need something to carry it on a molecular scale, as a hydride compound. The simplest of these that is carbon free, i.e. nonhydrocarbon, is ammonia, or nitrogen trihydride, but there is also toxic hydrazine, or dinitrogen tetrahydride, and even the magnesium-titanium metal hydrides might stand a chance, or borohydrides like lithium borohydride (which is abov
      • This is how you do it except the car does not have to be 60 grand in cost,

        Then you proceeded to list of bunch of undeveloped and presently high cost approaches.

    • by Sqr(twg) (2126054) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @02:24PM (#47489827)

      I worked on fuel cell vehicles for seven years, but quit because I realized there will never be a future in it.

      There are lots of reasons, but the main argument is this: It takes about four times as much electricity to power a fuel cell car as a battery-electric car. (Fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity at about 50 % efficiency, and making hydrogen from electrolysis has about 50 % efficency, not counting losses in compressing the hydrogen and when tranferring the compressed gas to the car. Batteries can have 95 % efficiency both in charging and discharging.)

      You could make hydrogen from natural gas, of course, but the "no fossil fuels" argument goes away, and efficiency is still no advantage over a combustion engine that runs on natural gas directly.

      The only advantage a fuel cell vehicle has over a battery-powered one is range, but range is less of an issue whith batteries, because chargers could be everywhere, unlike hydrogen tank stations that have lots of safety issues.

      • are you five? Have you ever even driven a car or owned one? You seem hot have no clue about weighing pros and cons or understanding the challenges new tech must overcome.

        who can I tell? You lead with the main argument - EV cars are more efficient in terms of total energy per mile. You know what? nobody gives a crap! the three important things for hydrogen stations are cost per mile, fuel source, and GHGs. nobody cares about mathematical efficiencies.

        you know what people do care about? range and convenien
        • The most important thing for hydrogen as a car fuel is that it is impractically dangerous. Sure you can bind it to something else to mitigate that... but then we are talking about something like gasoline anyway (or your hydrocarbon of choice, but substituting other atoms for carbon tends to make it toxic.)

          The safety issues with liquefied dihydrogen are so insanely bad that anybody seriously proposing it knows this cannot possibly work, or has very little chemical and engineering knowledge. The basic prope

          • i don't see the difference in safety between a hydrogen car and a cng car. Elaborate?
            • CNG can be stored easily in standard pressure tanks. The carbon atoms in the molecules grant these gases the property of having van der Waals forces which allow them to form liquids at relatively low pressures.

              Hydrogen molecules are tiny. They slip into the crystal structure of metals and render them brittle. They slip through the gaps in seals. And making hydrogen into a liquid requires extreme pressures and temperatures.

              • h2 is stored at 350 bar or 700 bar. a bit higher than cng at 260 bar (3600psi), but you just spec the tanks appropriately and inspect/replace them appropriately. Any small slow leaks go harmlessly into the air, jut need to watch where you park them. it seems fine to me, you just need precautions. like how you're not supposed to smoke at gas stations.
                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  2 is stored at 350 bar or 700 bar. a bit higher than cng at 260 bar (3600psi), but you just spec the tanks appropriately and inspect/replace them appropriately.

                  it's funny you mention that, because the H2 storage tanks cost more and have to be replaced more often.

                  Any small slow leaks go harmlessly into the air, jut need to watch where you park them. it seems fine to me, you just need precautions. like how you're not supposed to smoke at gas stations.

                  I won't really shed any tears if people aren't allowed to smoke in parking lots, but I'm not sure that's going to fly.

        • by Sqr(twg) (2126054)

          are you five?

          As I wrote in the first sentence of the post you are replying to, I worked for seven years in research and development on fuel cell vehicles. You do the math.

          Have you ever even driven a car or owned one?

          I've driven a fair number of different vehicles, including prototype fuel cell cars.

          You seem hot have no clue about weighing pros and cons or understanding the challenges new tech must overcome.

          Unlike you?

          You know what? nobody gives a crap! the three important things for hydrogen stations are cost per mile, fuel source, and GHGs. nobody cares about mathematical efficiencies.

          Efficiency is the most important factor in determining cost per mile. A car that requires four times as much electricity will have approximately four times the cost per mile. It will also cause four times the green-house gas emissions, assuming that the sourc

    • If you actually want to reduce emissions, it'd be many times more effective to use that money to give everyone free bus passes. And that way you'd actually be helping the poor instead of the wealthy!
    • by ganjadude (952775)
      why should I have to pay for you to buy a new car???? no this is NOT how you do things
    • The correct solution(1):

      Recover costs from wars in the middle east this millennium from taxes added to gas consumption, domestic or foreign, until repaid.

      This would be a ~80 per gallon if spread over 10 years.

      This is assuming we fought the war "for oil", whatever the hell that means.

    • Um, we are not an island who has no local petroleum resources. It always amazes me to watch you people blindly supporting dumping money to distort markets. Meanwhile, you have Tesla showing how much force the high cost of production has to encourage innovation. Tesla knows very few people can buy a $150k, so they spent every day getting innovating to get that down to $60k. And then they spent every day getting that down to what reportedly will be around $30k. And no doubt they will then spend every day gett

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      The US isn't doing this because the US makers don't have a qualifying vehicle. We only subsidize our own.
  • weird choice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:25PM (#47489511)

    My impression is that, 10 or 15 years ago, electric vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles were perhaps equally good candidates for "future non-petroleum car technology", but that electric vehicles have been developing much faster, while fuel-cell vehicles have been going nowhere. Why now place a large bet on fuel cells?

  • by Chalnoth (1334923) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:32PM (#47489557)

    The issue is that the dominant technology for producing hydrogen is steam reforming [wikipedia.org], which emits carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide as byproducts. This means that hydrogen fuel cells are most definitely not "carbon free" in any reasonable sense.

    Perhaps at some point in the future it will become more common to generate hydrogen through some other means that doesn't produce CO/CO2, but we're definitely not there yet. So I'm not really sure that this technology is any better than electric vehicles. (which face a similar problem, but effective technologies to produce the electricity are already cost-competitive and on the rise as a result).

    • All commercial hydrogen production is filthy and wasteful. It would be far greener to just burn the natural gas in a car than turning a little of it into hydrogen while producing lots more carbon and wasting lots of energy. And it is still a fossil fuel. Fuel cells are for idiots who want to pretend that the hydrogen comes from someplace clean and green for free.
      • by mysidia (191772)

        Fuel cells are for idiots who want to pretend that the hydrogen comes from someplace clean and green for free.

        The CO2 has a less harmful affect on human health and the environment than the smog which collects when other nitrogen compounds emitted when burning fossil fuels.

        Furthermore, the Hydrogen can produced in centralized locations which means the method of production can be more easily changed in manners which minimize any release.

        • by blindseer (891256)

          Unless that power is from a nuclear reactor the carbon footprint reduction from just burning the fossil fuels in the first place is debatable. The carbon footprint from wind and solar is not great because of the aluminum, concrete, and other carbon intensive materials needed for their use. Nuclear power gets away with it because the concrete is poured once in a century to get a gigawatt of reliable power 24/7.

          When it comes to smog you may have a case. Problem then becomes how fuel cell cars compare to ba

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            I suspect we are going to see synthetic hydrocarbons for fuels before anything else.

            What we have already seen is biofuels. Now we just need to see more of them, notably Butanol. It is a 1:1 replacement for gasoline, whose octane can be diddled with the other products of the process which produces it: acetone and ethanol. All of these are clean-burning fuels which can be produced from algae, which is a completely renewable feedstock.

            Doesn't solve the smog issues directly but with modern engines it seems to me that the air out of the tail pipe is cleaner than what goes in.

            That's only true if they are running in a highly polluted city, but we've no shortage of those just now.

      • by cerberusti (239266) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @03:21PM (#47490061)

        Even if we could produce it in a reasonable manner hydrogen is highly explosive, very easy to ignite, cryogenic when liquefied (as in 20 K cryogenic), and likes to leak out of most containers at an impressive rate (even very well sealed and cooled containers which you could not practically place in a moving vehicle).

        Leaks can also cause spontaneous ignition due to the fact that unlike most gasses, hydrogen warms on expansion and requires a terrifyingly low amount of energy to ignite.

        There is effectively no way to overcome the practical issues with using dihydrogen alone as a fuel source while being competitive with anything else. It must be bound to another atom, such as carbon (and if that counts as hydrogen powered we already have it with gasoline.)

        In the US we will end up doing exactly what you mention: We will burn the natural gas directly for energy, because that is a sane thing to do. It is stable and easy to store compared to hydrogen, and the energy density is good enough.

        • Not all fuel cells require hydrogen gas. There is a significant amount of R&D into natural gas based cells. Everything you said is why the non hydrogen fuel cells are probably going to become the mainstay technology. This would mean the technology will probably never become carbon neutral.
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Hydrogen is the better option because once the energy problem is solved, electrolysis will be "free" and H2 will be much easier to get. H2 doesn't care about source. It's just that right now, we make H2 in a more energy efficient but carbon-involved process.
    • by tomhath (637240)
      It's a shame they don't have a few nuclear power plants to generate cheap and clean electricity.
  • by Lost Penguin (636359) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @02:43PM (#47489919) Homepage
    Methanol fuel cells need some research love....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_methanol_fuel_cell
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Methanol fuel cells need some research love....

      No they don't... They're getting extensive use in forklifts, surpassing battery-electrics even at the currently crazy fuel-cell prices.

      Now Unleaded Gasoline fuel cells... Those could use some money. Range booster for EVs or hybrids, an instant doubling of fuel efficiency over ICEs, practically no maintenance, and a future where fuel conversion efficiency isn't limited by Carnot.

  • "This is the car of a new era because it doesn't emit any carbon dioxide and it's environmentally friendly.

    Are fuel-cell vehicles in fact environmentally friendly? Not given current sources of hydrogen (assuming they're using hydrogen) they aren't.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @03:52PM (#47490199) Journal
    Subsidies will not make the product viable.

    Electric cars has many inherent advantages. Maximum torque at zero RPM for the electric motors is a big one, removes the transmission and all complexities associated with it. Electric motors are far more reliable than IC engines. There are instances of traction motors, whose coils were wound and sealed in 1920s hauling street cars till they died circa 1960s. No oil change, no tune ups, no timing belt replacements... Charging them overnight from the grid would be like buying gasoline at 2$ a gallon.

    Still the initial cost of a 100 mile range battery is so high, it does not break even for a long time. That is the major hurdle. Not range anxiety. If the battery price drops people will buy them. Car rental companies will come up with competitively priced plans to access gasoline cars for the few times a year people need the longer range. Third parties will develop towable battery packs or gasoline range extenders. U-Haul franchises might start offering battery swap stations. Range is NOT what killing electric car. It is the price of battery.

    If/when that price breakthrough comes, you would find all the gasoline car companies stand line at Washington DC, holding their hats asking for more government subsidies for gas cars.

    • Still the initial cost of a 100 mile range battery is so high, it does not break even for a long time. That is the major hurdle.

      That's what Elon Musk is betting on. We'll see if he is right.

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

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