The Future of Automobiles: Electric or Hydrogen

By: Connor Boster

Electric cars are becoming more and more relevant in the automobile industry. Environment awareness continues to grow as electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more reliable and more affordable. This trend is likely to continue, as CO2 emission standards for cars will likely continue to decrease, along with the public’s acceptance of combustion engines. With this, it is becoming increasingly beneficial for the auto industry to invest in alternative sources of power for their vehicles, such as electricity and hydrogen.

As of 2019, there are three hydrogen vehicles available to the public: the Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity, and the Hyundai Nexo. There are also several other companies currently developing hydrogen vehicles. The electric car industry has over 30 vehicles available to the public. In addition to this of course, there are many hybrid vehicles available that utilize both electricity as well as combustion.

As a driver looking to reduce your environmental impact, you may be looking at purchasing a car in the near future and wondering if an EV or hydrogen vehicle is something you could invest in. I have put together a list of pros and cons with both EVs and hydrogen cars to help you through this decision.

Keep in mind that these numbers (costs, range, charging) will only continue to get better as we progress through this transition.

Fully Electric Cars

Pros:

  • This goes without saying, but: dramatically smaller footprint than combustion vehicles.
  • Charging cost: electricity is not free, but cheaper in most countries than gasoline cost.
    • On average, less than half the yearly cost of gasoline for a combustion vehicle.
  • Charging stations are very prevalent in large cities and will continue to become more so.
  • Noise: EVs are practically silent, making for a more comfortable ride.
    Incentives and tax benefits return about $7,000-$10,000 (depending on the country).

Cons:

  • Charging: Typical battery takes several hours to charge from empty to full (depending on the battery of course), you must find a charging station.
    • However, with a rapid charger you can add 100 miles of range in about 35 minutes).
  • Probably requires that you own a garage so you can buy a charging station for your home, costing a little upwards of $1000.
  • Range: Most EVs that an average household can afford will go 80-100 miles on a full charge.
    • Although this does not sound like much, this is sufficient for most commuter’s daily drive.
  • Cost: the most affordable EVs are about $30,000-$40,000

Hydrogen Cars

Pros:

  • This goes without saying (again), but: dramatically smaller footprint than combustion vehicles.
    • The only gas emitted by these vehicles is water vapor.
  • Range: most hydrogen vehicles have a range of nearly 300 miles.
  • Quick Refueling: an H2 tank can be replenished in about 5 minutes
  • Noise: Practically silent

Cons:

  • A battery is still present, just powered with H2 – still contains all of the pollution caused by the creation of this battery.
  • Fuel Cost: Costs about $5.60 per gallon
    • But offers about twice the range per gallon
  • Price: The most affordable model available is around $50,000 after incentives and tax benefits.
  • Refueling station scarcity: As of 2018, there are 39 hydrogen refueling stations in the US, 35 of which are in California. There are 337 worldwide.
    • Unless you live in southern California, you probably won’t have access to one at this time.

Edited for spelling, grammar, and clarity.

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