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Toyota Triathlon fuel cell racer
Toyota concept fuel cell race car called the Triathlon. The company that is the current world-leader in gasoline-electric hybrids is also actively pursuing research into hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, including design concept studies like the hydrogen-fueled TMRC (Toyota Motors Race Car) which debuted -- appropriately it seems -- in a video game, as well as the real world auto show circuit.

Hydrogen: Hype Meets Reality

Motor Trend magazine takes on the hydrogen fuel cell vs hybrid vs alternative fuel vs battery electric car debate

By EV World

Surely it is a mark of final legitimacy when a mainstream automotive publication of the stature of Motor Trend takes on the issue of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. And not just fuel cells, but plug-in hybrids, alternative fuels and yes, even battery-electric cars.

Motor Trend officially stepped into the fray with their August 2004 issue in a 8-page spread entitled "Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Reality."

Click image to download PDF version of article. Courtesy of the EVWorld Yahoo discussion group

The cover art for the article features a moored Hindenburg dirigible with a fueling line trailing down to a desert oasis filling station and a parked Honda FCX fuel cell sedan. The lead-in asks, "Will fuel cells running on hydrogen soon propel our cars and solve all our fossil-fuel woes?"

Good question... and one we've been debating here on EV World for months now. In addition to looking at the hydrogen question from many angles, Motor Trend's team of writers even take a brief but serious look at the potential competitors.

With respect to the latter, they write, "Is the battery-electric car dead? Not according to some experts, who claim that car manufacturers and legislators lost interest in the battery car just when battery technology started to take off. Among the most promising are a new-generation of lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries that could offer vehicle ranges up to 300 miles or more. Daytime recharging time would still be an issue, but only for significant trips."

They have even more positive things to say about the plug-in hybrid, concluding that with a 60 mile battery-only range, gas station visits to refuel the IC engine "would be rare indeed."

To get four different professional views on the subject, Motor Trend interviewed Amory Lovins and Dennis Weaver (hydrogen-advocates) and Paul McCready and Joe Romm (hydrogen-skeptics), all of whom we've interviewed in the past here on EV World.

Motor Trend's final analysis?

"It seems to us that, despite hydrogen's current momentum, the homework behind it isn't complete. Serious questions remain as to whether fuel cells offer the best or the quickest solution to atmospheric CO2 buildup and a dwindling oil supply. And whether fuel cells are rational from a cost standpoint... And even whether all the technical hurdles are resolvable..."

Motor Trend concludes, "We're in the car-testing and magazine-making business, not the future energy and environmental business. But the problems facing current fossil-fueled automotive transportation are our problems too. We'd all be better served if our government assembled the best and the brightest of our technical community -- people of many perspectives -- to sift through all the conflicting proposals and analysis. What's the best? What's fantasy? What's possible? Alternate-fuel hybrid technology? Advanced battery-electric vehicles? Bio-diesel? Or, indeed, hydrogen?

"Let's know for sure."

Times Article Viewed: 7394
Published: 23-Jul-2004

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