Hydrogen Fuel Cells Still Not Practical Says GM CEO Dan Akerson

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Still Not Practical Says GM CEO Dan Akerson

GM’s CEO Dan Akerson believes that the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle won’t be feasible until at least 2020. Let’s hope GM calls the right prediction this time.

“We’re looking at hydrogen fuel cells, which have no carbon emissions, zero,” said Akerson. “The car is still too expensive and probably won’t be practical until the 2020-plus period, I don’t know. And then there’s the issue of infrastructure.”

This hasn’t been the first time GM’s pulled a Nostradamus on fuel cell vehicles: back in 2002, it claimed that hundreds of thousands of them would be on the road by 2010. By 2006, GM lowered that vague number to 1,000. Last year came and went, and it missed that goal.

GM cited high cost and a lack of hydrogen fueling stations for fudging the thousand-car goal. But it hasn’t stopped speculating on the next generation of fuel cell vehicles that it could build: the car will use half the expensive precious metals, be half the size, and 220 pounds lighter than current fuel cell vehicles, it said in 2009. That same year it said that by 2015 the fuel cell vehicle will be “commercialized,” and by 2022 it will be cost-competitive.

“They’re very expensive now,” said Akerson, “but we’ve, just in the last two years, reduced the price of that technology by $100,000.”

No other car company has brought a fuel cell vehicle to the masses, or intends to by 2015; Honda’s gee-whiz FCX Clarity is only available in California, and only about 200 examples are on the road. GM may have a point—but, just as we never launched a spaceship to Jupiter in 2001 like we did in 2001, speculating on the future with such concrete dates usually ends up, well, looking dated.

[Source: Detroit News]