Electric cars face challenge from hydrogen vehicles: expert

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/12 20:18:40

Hydrogen vehicles, which use hydrogen fuel cells for motive power, may spell a cleaner future of new-energy vehicles (NEVs) and could pose a challenge for electric cars such as Tesla, an industry expert said on Wednesday.

Several automotive manufacturers introduced their latest hydrogen vehicles in the CES Asia exhibition in Shanghai. Nexo, the latest hydrogen vehicle prototype designed and produced by the Hyundai Motor Group, will need only five minutes to charge and can run for up to 800 kilometers once fully charged, according to media reports.

Mercedes-Benz introduced its latest hydrogen cars at this year's CES Asia. As the first hydrogen prototype, the GLC F-CELL can run for up to 437 kilometers.

Chinese companies are also actively participating in cooperation on the development of hydrogen cars. RONN Motor Group, a US company that specializes in NEV design, announced in January the execution of a definitive three-way joint venture agreement with two Chinese companies to jointly develop hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

Other domestic brands, including First Automobile Work (FAW) and Dongfeng Motor Co, have been embracing the idea of hydrogen cars. According to a report by energytrend.cn, FAW successfully tested its first hydrogen-fueled engine in October 2018, and Dongfeng plans to reach capacity of 2,000 vehicles before 2020.

The rise in manufacturers' enthusiasm can represent a challenge for electric cars including Tesla and other brands, because they are even cleaner and more affordable, Su Hui, an analyst with the China Automobile Dealers Association, told the Global Times.

"Hydrogen-powered vehicles produce next to no global warming emissions," Su said. "In contrast, electric cars still rely on electricity produced from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas." That is also why the government has been encouraging the development of hydrogen fuel cell cars in recent years, Su noted.

On Monday, Shanghai's Jiading district announced its plan to establish a hydrogen harbor, dedicated to developing the hydrogen vehicle industry. Zhangjiakou in North China's Hebei Province also announced on Wednesday that by 2035, the cumulative output of the local hydrogen industry will reach 170 billion yuan ($25.6 billion).

But the hydrogen vehicle business is still under development, and it may take years to mature, Su said.

"Last year the production of hydrogen vehicles accounted for only a small fraction of total vehicle production, because of technical issues including finding stable sources of hydrogen fuel and building charging stations," Su said.

Su added that despite the current limits, hydrogen vehicles can be put into mass production quickly. He estimated that once mature, hydrogen cars could take up half of the NEV market.




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