Decades Of Promises: 'Dude, Where's My Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Car?'

John Voelcker

Designing, engineering, testing, producing, and selling cars run by anything other than gasoline engines is hard, expensive, and challenging.

Carmakers routinely lose money on the first generation of new technologies--Toyota, for example, with its first-generation Prius hybrid.

Fuel Cell Vehicle commercialization predictions, 1980-now, collated by Bruce Lin, Catalytic Egring
Fuel Cell Vehicle commercialization predictions, 1980-now, collated by Bruce Lin, Catalytic Egring

But while hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric cars have had a long and torturous path to market, there's one technology that's taken even longer.

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Or as Bruce Lin puts it in his Catalytic Energy blog: "Dude, where's my fuel cell car?"

In one single, sobering graphic, he looks at 20 years of promises made by automakers to launch hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

In a series of quotes that pop up from the graphic embedded in his post, Lin highlights various predictions made by scientists, engineers, analysts, and executives for when fuel-cell cars would start to reach volume production and appear on the world's roads.

The first estimate, made in 1980, suggests that the year would be 1990.

The article attached to the most recent quote has the less optimistic headline, "Long road ahead predicted for fuel cell electric vehicles."

As of the end of February, fewer than 100 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell crossovers have been leased in the U.S.

The 2016 Toyota Mirai will go on sale in limited regions of California later this year, and Honda is expected to launch a production version of its Honda FCV Concept sometime between July 2016 and June 2017

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While a similar graphic could probably be created for electric cars, cars with plugs have been on sale in North America for almost four and a half years now.

Today, there are roughly 20 different plug-in electric vehicles on sale in the U.S. Their total sales last year were roughly 118,500.

[hat tip: Matthew Klippenstein]

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