Bloomberg.com is reporting that President Obama has turned a cold shoulder to hydrogen cars in favor of plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs). According to Bloomberg, Honda is also concerned of this shift from the Bush regime who favored hydrogen to the Obama team who favors PHEVs and battery electric vehicles (BAVs).
But how does Bloomberg make this analysis? All is quiet on the Obama front. The supporting evidence that Bloomberg states is Honda’s shift towards coming out with their own PHEV in 2010 and the U. S. Department of Energy’s budget for this year is $177.7 million in 2009, down from $211.9 million in 2008.
What Bloomberg failed to report, however, is that the hydrogen budget for 2007 was $189.5 million and for 2006 was $153.4 million, during the Bush years. Does this signal a significant policy change? Maybe yes and maybe no.
The word on the street is the President Obama is clearly in favor of plug-in hybrids because he sees them as a shorter term solution than hydrogen cars (or hydrogen hybrid cars like the Honda FCX Clarity).
But, $177.7 million for hydrogen car development is nothing to sneeze at especially in tough economic times and no clear short-term path towards implementation. The President may not be particularly warm to hydrogen cars but he also isn’t dismissing them altogether.
The real challenge now will be to come up with hydrogen technology that shortens the pathway towards large scale rollout of H2 cars sooner rather than later. This may serve as a heating pad to the President’s cold shoulder.