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Nissan Sets Cost-Reduction Goal for Fuel-Cell Vehicles

Layout of the Nissan X-Trail FCV. Click to enlarge.

Nikkei. Nissan Motor has set a goal of lowering the cost of fuel cell vehicles to around 1.2 times that of regular mass-produced vehicles by 2015. The current X-Trail FCV prototype has a production cost greater than ¥100 million (US$862,000); a non-fuel-cell X-Trail has a production cost of approximately ¥2 million (US$17,000).

Over the next decade, Nissan will focus on making the fuel-cell stack and hydrogen tanks more compact and lighter. Nissan would like to reduce the incremental 400kg weight in fuel cell vehicles down to 200kg by 2015.

The 70 MPa (10,000 psi) high-pressure hydrogen-powered Nissan X-TRAIL FCV is the company’s most-recent developmental fuel-cell vehicle. Equipped with the first-ever Nissan-constructed fuel cell stack, the X-TRAIL FCV also offers a more compact design and increased power.

The Nissan fuel-cell stack is about 60% smaller compared with the previous stack from UTC on the 2003 FCV model but increases power generation to 90 kW, an improvement of 43% over the older stack’s 63 kW. The FCV uses a lithium-ion battery pack for energy storage.

The prior 2003 FCV offered a cruising range of 350 km (218 miles). With the improved stack efficiency and a 30% increase in storage capacity, the new X-TRAIL FCV is expected to achieve a cruising range of more than 500 km (311 miles)—a 43% increase. The vehicle is currently in testing in Japan, Canada and the US. (Earlier post.)



What kind of range would we be looking at if the vehicle was equipped with just advanced lithium ions and the whole package cost $862,000? 1000+ miles?

I still can't understand why the major vehicle manufacturers decided with certainty that battery electric vehicles were too expensive, killed all production and R&D then wholeheartedly signed on to a technology that requires billions of dollars of research and development to make practical and still costs 10x what a current technology "too expensive" EV costs... plus will require billions more public/private funds to research, develop and build the new supporting infrastructure, then maintain it.

You'd think it would be much cheaper, easier and quicker to bring an $86,200 vehicle that doesn't require radical new infrastructure into an affordable price range than one that rings in at $862,000.

You just have to wonder...


Geez. The price would have to come down almost two orders of magnitude before it'd be close to economical. You could buy 8-9 Teslas for that much.


Wouldn't it be nice if they diverted just 1/10th of the Hydrogen research budget into PHEVs and EVs

Lou Grinzo

Like others here, I hate to see this much money going into H2 instead of EV's, but there is a bright side: The market will force companies to drop H2 for passenger cars and adopt a superior product in the form of an EV.

All it will take is ONE company willing (or forced by desperation) to take the perceived risk of introducing a full-blown, mainstream EV. (Tesla doesn't count.) Ford? Mitsubishi? One of the Chinese car companies coming to the US? It doesn't matter. Once one does it, and the others find out that US households are perfectly willing to replace N-1 of their vehicles, in most cases, with an EV, then they'll all be forced to jump on the (electric) bandwagon.

Yes, it would be much preferable to have them pushing hard to mainstream EV's, and therefore make it happen all the sooner, but it will happen. And the early adopters will be rewarded, just as the stragglers are always punished by the market. Just as Ford and GM about being behind the eight ball when markets change.


Appearance of incredibly powerful and robust Ni-Mh batteries (about 10 years ago) made Hybrids technologically feasible. Some drawbacks of Ni-Mh batteries – high self-discharge, high internal resistance, etc. – make them unsuitable even for PHEV, not to mention pure electric vehicles (except for purely niche applications, of course). Li batteries promise that PHEV will be feasible in near future, when Li batteries technology will mature. Billions of dollars and thousands of engineers and scientists are working on it right now. Before battery technology mature, development of mass-produced PHEV is waste of money, and mass produced pure EV is not even on horizon. GM ignored this, with well known result. Why so many companies are wasting huge amounts of money on fuel cells, when key problems of FC still are unsolved, remains mystery for me.


guys!! 15 years is perfect for society to drain the whole gas reserves on this planet. once the gas is gone fuel cells will be our new costs just so that we can be on the road!

we are the gas companies bitches forever!


Yeah, why fuel cell? Why not power cell?

Anyway, fuel cell vehicles still running on electrical motor, we can always replace the missing puzzle: the battery.

Ron Fischer

Actually it's simple: After or perhaps even instead of the 'White Star' sedan Tesla should build a BEV crossover SUV. Doing that would knock over the fuel cell strawman.


400kg for their system? 400kg of batteries would be just less than what the Tesla roadster has available...in 15 years time it seems they may be able to get that down to 200kg to match what the fuel cell is expected to be at.

...and Tesla is currently using a more "run-of the mill" lithium battery if I remember correctly.


What happened to zinc-air battery, aluminium battery, supercap, wireless energy tramsmission and so on? Any related breakthru can render the fuel cell obsolete.

Heck we just need a nuclear reactor and we can run every single thing in town.

shaun mann

yeah, tesla is using commodity batteries.

a BEV crossover would require much more battery capacity than the sports car version, so you'd have a much higher price.

tesla may not be able to move out of the electric sports car niche until battery prices fall significantly unless they can convince people that a shorter range is acceptable or build a hybrid of some sort.

porsche occupies a small niche and is happy there. maybe tesla should do the same.

shaun mann


i like the aluminum battery approach too. it is cool b/c aluminum could be used as an energy carrier, making it possible for places like iceland with it's geothermal power and new zealand with it's wind to export energy.

Shaun Williams

The old tried and tested rule-of-thumb for car company “aren't-we-clever” spin;

2 year goal = it might happen
5 year goal = very unlikely
10 year goal = pure fantasy.

BEV's still need a quick fill solution though, to compete with PHEV's for those longer trips. Even with all the inefficiencies of FCV's it may be a better plug-in hybrid solution than today's ICE version... I don't think that this is what the car companies have in mind though!


Fuel cells and the hydrogen "economy" are a waste of time and money. The conversion of water into hydrogen and oxygen gas is uneconomical. To convert these gases into electricity is also uneconomical. A hydrogen fuel station infrastructure is expensive.

Instead, it is much more economical to develop new capacitors for ultra high energy storage. EEStor's ceramic multilayer super capacitor is just one possibility to radically improve the dielectric value and energy capacity.

For example:


Have a look at the lotus APV as shown in the Lotus engineering newsletter (if not other places) and you have your Tesla White Star (re dressed somewhat, of course).

As for its BEV range, it's about weight and roadload (rolling resistance and aerodynamic efficiency). Plus I bet that in three to 4 years time those liths will have 30% more energy and cost 40% less.



A battery car can take the place of a cummuter car but most cars sold arnt that kind of car or I should say most money from car sales arnt that kind of car.

Now that fact is h2 gets the money because the nation already uses huge amounts of it and ALREADY all the money spent on it has more then paid for itself in lowering the enrgy cost of generating h2.

In 1 year they cut the cost of generating h2 from methane a renewable source by 40%... Now that has cut the cost of making low emissions fuels. That has saved you money.

Now yes even BUSH is for electric cars but even he is smart enough to know they wont handle even a good share of the car needs. And we cant count on biofuels alone.

So smartypants what do you expect is gona happen? Specialy if climate change starts fubaring up crop yields? Hmmmm? You dont have an answer to that do you?


BEV's are a much better solution, and although EESTOR has an impressive capacitor (maybe) the problem is the linear voltage drop off in a capacitor. The A123 battery is a far better solution with a slightly lower capacity than traditional Li-ion but greater charge/discharge rates. A five minute charge is possible with each cell, so a 20-30 minute charge would be perfectly feasible (given the heat dissipation and amount of current that has to get moved through the buss bars in the vehicle). Having worked with the A123 at VDS, I believe them to be an excellent solution, along with other recent nanoscale electrode batteries. The only downfall to them is that they are cylindrical cells which are not as nice from a packaging standpoint.

tom deplume

It is one thing to set a goal and another to reach it. H2 fuel cells have been 10 years away for the last 30 years and will still be 10 years away 30 years from now.

Alexander Terrell

Have a look at PML's mini, with a 250cc ICE. This is the way to go.

Li ion cells already have enough power density and enough energy density for good PHEVs. Lifetime needs to treble and costs need to halve. This is much more likely than than a miracle discovery of H2 in the ground, coupled with a 100 fold reduction in the price of fuel cells.


I wonder if someone decided "well if fuel cells work for the space industry, they'll work for us as well!"...maybe next they'll put nuclear thermal electric generators on cars and have a nuclear electric hybrid.

Harvey D.

Alexander Terrell:

I agree with you that Fuel Cells have a much longer road to go than affordable, quick charge, electrical energy storage devices.

Even if Fuel Cells could be developped as quickly and be cost competitive with on-board electrical energy devices, the hydrogen production and distribution network required would cost $ billions more than upgrading the current electrical power grid/network.

Secondly, why not use clean sun and wind power to recharge our PHEVs and BEVs and by-pass most of the GHG created with the production and transportation of hydrogen.

A mixture of upgradable (with time as batteries become better and they will) PHEVs and BEVs makes more sense. The wide support for Fuel Cell for every day vehicles is misleading and mystifying.


One kW of installed electricity generation capacity costs approximately 1000$. One kW (max power rating) of ICE costs about 20$. So, please, remind me about FC for cars after electricity generation will universally switch to fuel cells. Still it will have to become 10-50 times cheaper afterward.


A quick calculation of the rest energy EESTOR's capacitor: suppose the voltage of the capacitor drops from 3500 volt to 200 volt during a ride (assume the electric motor cannot run on voltage below 200 volt). Then the capacitor has delivered 99,68% of its energy, and there is only about 0,32% energy left in the capacitor.
Conclusion: it is not a problem that the capacitor voltage drops steadily, considering the left-over energy. It will be more problematic to convert this continuously dropping supercapacitor voltage into a constant low DC motor voltage.



Where would the H2 come from to power those FC plants? Remember that H2 is not an energy source, it is an energy storage medium.

The idea is that the H2 for FC cars is generated using renewable energy sources.


H2 is a boondoggle for transportation. What fuel would be good for tomorrow's affordable FC car?

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