The future belongs to batteries – whatever you think about it. Unless there is a major technological revolution or a radical change of direction, from 2035 the vast majority of cars sold will run on batteries.
Hydrogen (and by that we mean an electric drive with fuel cells, i.e. FCEV) looks stunning, but unfortunately only on paper. In reality, it has a number of practical disadvantages – a complex and expensive fuel cell (which requires regular maintenance and degrades over time), large and expensive high-pressure hydrogen tanks (which are more difficult to integrate into the car’s structure and also have a limited lifespan) and, above all, a very limited pumping infrastructure with high hydrogen prices.
The production of hydrogen is very energy-intensive, its storage and transport are complex, and each filling station is very expensive to build and operate – that’s why there will always be very few of them (there should be 12 of them in the Czech Republic by 2026). Expensive hydrogen cars and modest pumping infrastructure thus fundamentally limit the development of hydrogen propulsion. However, this does not mean that hydrogen has no future…
|+ Nothing changes for users
|– More complex drive installation
|+ Faster refueling
|– Considerably more expensive
|+ Lower weight
|– More sensitive technique (greater risk of reliability and lifetime)
|– Limited range of models
|– More expensive operation
|– Insufficient infrastructure
|+ Better use of space
|– More complicated and longer charging
|+ Better driving characteristics
|– Greater danger in case of fire
|+ Lower purchase price
|+ Lower operating costs
|+ Greater choice
The basic premise of the efficiency of hydrogen (and its lower price for consumers) is production at the point of consumption (to eliminate transport costs) ideally with green energy (which is cheaper). This means, for example, large freight transport depots, between which trucks and vans shuttle, or closed ecosystems – such as taxis and buses in big cities (at the moment it already works in Paris), large farms, etc.
However, hydrogen is not very suitable for individual passenger transport – mainly because batteries quickly erase its advantages due to rapid technical development. Big, heavy and expensive battery packs that cars can’t go very far with are becoming a thing of the past. The batteries of new cars are more compact and lighter with greater energy density, their price is gradually decreasing, the range is increasing and the charging speed, on the contrary, is increasing, and the charging infrastructure is also constantly expanding.
And it will no doubt continue to do so. While today you can drive up to 500 km on a single charge and then spend roughly half an hour at a fast charger for an effective charge (typically 10-80%), in a few years the range will be doubled (i.e. 1,000 kilometers) and charging will take half the time (15 minutes), all this at a 40% lower battery price. In short, everything is aimed at battery electric cars becoming an easy-to-use equivalent to cars with a combustion engine.
So, if you are not ready to choose from a very limited offer and buy a more technologically complex and expensive car (to purchase and to operate), which you will only have to drive for a limited distance or on designated routes – and all this just because you will refuel in a shorter time ( even if you will be forced to drive a few tens of kilometers because of it) – then a hydrogen car is not the right one for you.
And it’s quite possible that a battery-powered car isn’t right for you at the moment either – maybe it’s too expensive for you, maybe you don’t have convenient charging available, or maybe you often drive too long distances. It doesn’t matter, no one is forcing you to buy it today, or even tomorrow. You can easily continue driving with diesel or next time you will ride a hybrid to experience the increased efficiency and comfort of the electric drive.
When you switch to a battery car in a few years, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at how quiet, comfortable and user-friendly it actually is – by then its range will no longer be a limit and you’ll only need to go to the charger once in a while, and you’ll probably recharge it while you’re shopping somewhere . You may miss the pumps, but you certainly won’t miss the gas station.