The biggest threat to hydrogen cars and all electric cars is not each other as many would have you believe. The biggest threat to both hydrogen cars AND all electric cars are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).
If PHEVs are available within the next 3 years as Toyota and GM are both claiming and are widely adopted shortly afterwards, this could kill both battery electric vehicles (BEV) and hydrogen cars on the spot or at least retard the growth and acceptance in these industries.
PHEVs have several distinct advantages over EVs. First, plug-in hybrids are not tied to the grid. During a lengthy electrical blackouts and emergency situations, PHEVs won’t be immobilized as they still have internal combustion engines to propel them.
Second, PHEVs have much farther range than all electric vehicles and are suitable for long road trips. Third, PHEVs don’t have to be tied to the grid for hours in order just to operate normally as plug-in part is optional.
But, plug-in hybrids also have one big advantage over standard hydrogen cars as well. The most notable advantage is that both the fueling and electrical infrastructure is already in place. No additional infrastructure has to be built for a plug-in hybrid to operate, which is not the case with hydrogen cars.
If plug-in hybrids are widely adopted and achieve the 125 mpg to 150 mpg that some are reporting, this will mean huge decrease in automotive emissions, a decrease in the price of fueling the car and significantly less dependence upon imported foreign oil.
Consumers may not see the value in going all-electric or with hydrogen vehicles if the gains in these three areas are significant enough.
But, the disadvantage of PHEVs as compared to EVs or hydrogen cars is that plug-in hybrids are still polluting vehicles. Whether a PHEV’s internal combustion engine burns gasoline, diesel or biofuels there are still noxious emissions coming out the tailpipes.
At some point in the future, the last puzzle piece will fall into place and plug-in hydrogen hybrid vehicles will be widely adopted to achieve zero emissions, lower fuel costs and total energy independence from foreign nations.
It is at this point that, in the words of Martin Luther King, whose birthday is next month, we will be “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!”