Fuel Cells 2000, a non-profit educational organization has come up with a head-to-head comparison of two FCVs (fuel cell vehicles), one PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) and one BEV (battery electric vehicle) to see if public perception is accurate.
Because the Nissan Leaf BEV and Chevy Volt PHEV have garnered so much media attention in the past couple of years Fuel Cells 2000 thought it would be interesting to compare these two vehicles to the Honda Clarity FCV and Mercedes B-Class F-Cell FCV.
These two FCVs have already been rolled out in limited production to consumers under 3 year lease agreements. The Nissan Leaf has just been sold to its first customer in Northern California and the Chevy Volt is expected to rollout sometime in 2011.
There are a few surprises on the Fuel Cells 2000 chart including that FCVs have a range of 240 miles while the Leaf has a range of only 73 miles. The Chevy Volt has a range of 379 miles, but most of this is by using its gasoline engine (except for the first 35 miles that is on all battery alone).
Another surprise is that the Chevy Volt can be partially charged under level II charging conditions in as little as 4 hours or become fully charged under level I conditions in 10 – 12 hours. The Nissan Leaf, however, needs 7 hours under level II conditions and 20+ hours under level I charging conditions. FCVs by comparison refuel in about 5 minutes.
The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has also put out a report outlining well to wheel comparisons of different types of future midsize green vehicles. The lowest emissions according to this report for both BEVs and FCVs come from ultra-low carbon renewable electricity such as from wind, solar and hydroelectric.
The second lowest emitting vehicles are FCVs with hydrogen made from biomass. And the third lowest emitting vehicles are FCVs with hydrogen made from nuclear high temperature electrolysis cracking of water.
So, even though many consumers assume that FCVs are still in the development stages, the facts state otherwise. Hydrogen powered FCVs stack up well against other low emissions vehicles and looks like they will continue to do so for years to come.