We recently spoke about the auto industry’s argument between hydrogen and battery power. There are several automakers, spearheaded by Tesla Motors, who are pushing for pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs), while others, like BMW and Toyota, are making a push for hydrogen powered vehicles.
The argument is basically that hydrogen supporters claim it to be the better alternative fuel for today’s world, while BEV supporters claim it to be a waste of time and that BEVs are the future. Both sides have compelling arguments, but it’s interesting to see the different automakers and different countries battling it out.
Japan and China are two countries that see things very differently from one another. In Japan, companies like Toyota and Honda are making a strong push for hydrogen-powered vehicles, with cars like the Toyota Mirai and the new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. The Japanese government is also pushing for more hydrogen refill stations and is offering incentives for both automakers and customers for hydrogen-powered cars. The Japanese government also wants to build 100 hydrogen refill stations in urban Japan by March. This will cost a significant amount of money, as will improving hydrogen’s technology. But the Japanese seem to believe that it’s worth the investment.
On the other hand, China is pushing very hard for pure BEVs. The Chinese government is offering huge incentives to customers who buy EVs and is creating very strict emissions laws to try and twist automakers’ arms into making them. This makes sense, though, as China has a serious air-pollution problem, so the Chinese government would like to do something about that. So Chinese tech companies are investing hundreds of millions into EV and battery technology to create their own Tesla competitors. LeTV, a web-based television and streaming provider, has invested tons of money into companies like Atieva and Faraday Future to build a high-performance electric car capable of being a “Tesla-killer”. LeTV also has a partnership with Aston Martin, a company who has already been rumored to be getting into the EV game.
The Japanese, along with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and GM, feel that hydrogen is the answer at the moment, as battery technology isn’t where it needs to be to provide long-distance travel to the mass market. However, the hydrogen infrastructure will cost quite a bit of money. The Chinese, along with Tesla, seem to feel that pure EVs are the real answer and that hydrogen will just get in the way and be a waste of time and money. Just like VHS vs Betamax and Blu ray vs HD DVD, the technology that wins will be the one that the mainstream market gets behind. It seems that the general public, at least in America, is for BEVs like Tesla. But much of the world, as well as most automakers, are pushing for hydrogen power. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and who will win the technology battle.