Robert G. in Pennsylvania sent in a whole list of enthusiastic questions about hydrogen cars and the building of the supporting infrastructure and I’ve answered several of the questions here.
Robert said, “Every time I go to the pump and continually see the price of gas creep towards $4.00 a gallon I always have the same complaints about everything and just end up ranting while never getting to sources or the correct people to express my concerns. Luckily however I have finally found just what I need to get some questions answered.”
Robert: What is the main obstacle in placing H2 cars in all 50 states?
Hydro Kevin: The main obstacle of placing hydrogen cars in all 50 states is that there is currently little infrastructure to support them. The biggest hurdle will not be in the building of the cars, but in deciding what infrastructure model would work most effectively and then building it. Do we want a centralized model, decentralized, or both and who are the main players who will be building the infrastructure are questions that need to be answered.
Robert: What would the price/unit be for H2?
Hydro Kevin: The price for compressed hydrogen would be per kilogram, which is about the same as a gallon. In Irvine, California, there is a published price of $4.99 per kg. In Chicago, Illinois there is a published price of $3.49 per kg. You have to remember, though, that many hydrogen cars will get 60 to 80 mpg equivalent or more so this will mean that the price per fill up will be half of that or better than a typical car getting 30 mpg.
Robert: Would the price initially be high to help pay for the installation of H2 fueling stations and gathering stations?
Hydro Kevin: This would depend on several factors such as who will own and operate the hydrogen fueling station, who will supply the hydrogen gas, how much competition will there be from competing stations and will the prices initially be regulated by the government or will there be a free and open market right from the start.
Robert: What is the average price of an H2 vehicle?
Hydro Kevin: Hydrogen cars from the major automakers that run off fuel cells or internal combustion engines (ICE) are not for sale as they are still being tested. There are a few companies like Quantum that are retrofitting ICE vehicles for fleets for less than $100,000. The development costs for a fuel cell vehicle several years ago used to be several million dollars. Over time, the price of subsequent vehicles have come down to the low to mid hundred thousands per vehicle. Right now, it is anyone’s guess as to what the selling price of a hydrogen car might be when they are available to the public.
With gasoline prices soaring and the big oil companies raking in record profits, many people are looking for alternatives to ease the pain at the pump. While hydrogen cars do not offer an immediate solution, they may in just a few years time especially if there is the political will and sustained public outcry that will push this to happen.