Automakers Still Targeting Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles for Long Term Sustainable Mobility
23 April 2009
Despite the current enthusiasm for electric vehicles (EVs), hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) will be an important component of the vehicle mix in 2050, according to panelists from Nissan, Toyota and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in a conference session at the SAE 2009 World Congress in Detroit.
Dr. Kev Adjemian, Senior Principal Engineer/Senior Manager - Fuel Cell Laboratory, Nissan; Justin Ward, Advanced Powertrain Program Manager, Toyota; Keith Wipke, Senior Engineer, NREL; and session moderator and organizer Jesse Schneider, Alternative Propulsion Consultant (who recently left Chrysler from the ENVI PHEV group) all agreed that the future would see a mix of the different types of vehicles out of necessity.
Tailpipe GHG emissions need to be reduced by 70% by 2050 to maintain a 550 ppm concentration according to Nissan’s calculations, Adjemian said. (Nissan bases its assessment on the AR3 analysis from the UN IPCCC.) Adjemian also noted that neither EVs or FCVs would be able to contribute to that required reduction unless the electricity or the hydrogen was sourced from renewables.
Adjemian said that Nissan’s powertrain roadmap in the short term is focused on the expansion of highly efficient internal combustion engines, with the mid- and long-term bringing expansion of its EV efforts and maintaining the competitive advantage of its core electric power trains. By 2050, Adjemian sees an approximately equal mix of ICE, HEV/PHEVs, and fuel cell vehicles.
Justin Ward said that Toyota sees market opportunity for small EVs, but that according to Toyota’s latest calculations, the fuel cell hybrid vehicle has the advantage in well-to-wheel efficiency even now.
With natural gas as the feedstock for hydrogen and power generation, Toyota currently calculates 40% WTW efficiency for a fuel cell vehicle; 33% for an EV; 34% for a hybrid (Prius); and 19% for an internal combustion engine.
We feel that there is a place for EVs in the future, but what is that place? It’s pretty challenging for a full-range larger vehicle. We do see a market for the smaller, shorter range EVs. The key is to make sure your grid is clean. We don’t talk much about it these days, but we are still working very, very strongly on fuel cell technology.—Justin Ward
This view of the future vehicle technology mix—with EV applications likely targeting shorter-range, smaller vehicles and fuel cell vehicle technology applied to larger, long-range vehicles—was reinforced in a subsequent session moderated by GM (Larry Nitz, Executive Director, GM Powertrain) and including engineering executives from Ford (Sharif Marakby, Chief Engineer, Global Hybrid Core Engineering), Daimler (Neil Armstrong, Director, Hybrid Systems & Components), Honda (Kenji Nakano, Senior Chief Engineer, Honda R&D) and Bosch (Joseph Slenzak, Hybrid-EV Business Development), as well as Ward from Toyota.
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