Hydrogen Car "Debate" Drives Some Of You Crazy!


I know the debate over how long until we see Hydrogen powered vehicles can be a heated one, but I have to admit I'm a little surprised at some of the e-mails sent to me about my blog yesterday.

In a nutshell I told you I believe the hype surrounding the potential of hydrogen powered vehicles is overshadowing the reality that these clean burning rides won't be out on the street for a long, long time.

Talk about lighting a firestorm.

I mentioned yesterday that one of the big issues slowing the development of hydrogen powered vehicles is the lack of infrastructure. In other words, it will cost billions adding hydrogen pumps to gas stations. Harold wrote: "True the infrastructure build for electrolysis facilities to dispense H2 throughout the USA is slow. That is a fault of most of our states not getting behind it."

Harold, whether it's the fault of the government, the oil and service station lobbyists, or the basic fact that when any industry makes a fundamental change it costs billions, it doesn't change my opinion. Based on everything I know from talking with people I know in the auto industry, the lack of infrastructure is a huge problem that will keep them from pushing hydrogen powered vehicles. As one executive with a foreign automaker told me yesterday afternoon, "It will be quite a while before you see hydrogen cars outside of California and a few cities in the east."

Steven beat me up for not making clear the difference between cars powered by hydrogen and those powered by hydrogen fuel cells. What I can say is that it will cost much, much more to develop hydrogen fuel cells. Then Steven took me to task for quoting Joe Wiesenfelder from Cars.com who does not think we will see mass production of hydrogen vehicles for at least 20 years. Steven wrote: "What the heck are you doing asking some guy from cars.com about when auto technology will be available... he's just an salesman, they know nothing about industry ability,.."

Overall, many who sent me e-mails suggest that I, and others covering the auto industry, should take another look at the issue of hydrogen powered vehicles and we will realize it could happen right away. I don't dispute the automakers can make hydrogen powered vehicles, they already are. My view, based on discussions with dozens of executives, technicians, analysts and others in the auto industry is that we are still many, many years from seeing widespread availability of hydrogen vehicles.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com