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Volkswagen Group shows 3 hydrogen fuel cell concepts at LA Show: Audi A7 Sportback h-tron; Golf Sportwagen HyMotion; Passat HyMotion

Audi A7 Sportback h-tron. Click to enlarge.

Audi and Volkswagen, both members of the Volkswagen Group, unveiled three hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle demonstrators at the Los Angeles Auto Show: the sporty Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro, a plug-in fuel-cell electric hybrid featuring permanent all-wheel drive and the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion, a fuel-cell hybrid, both received a formal introduction in the companies’ press conferences. Further, Volkswagen brought two Passat HyMotion demonstrators for media drives. (The Golf and Passat models have identical hydrogen powertrains and control software.)

All three incorporate a fourth-generation, 100 kW LT PEM (Low Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cell stack developed in-house by Volkswagen Group Research at the Volkswagen Technology Center for Electric Traction. (Volkswagen is tapping some expertise from Ballard engineers under a long-term services contract, earlier post.) The Group is already at work on its fifth-generation version, said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi, during a fuel cell technology workshop held at the LA show, and may be ready to talk about that technology by the end of next year.

In visual terms, the fuel cell vehicles basically resemble their production counterparts, reflecting the Volkswagen Group’s strategic approach of developing alternative drivetrains so as to increase the powertrain options available to customers within the high-volume model lines. This is the opposite of the approach taken by Toyota with its Mirai fuel cell vehicle (earlier post) and Honda with its new FCV Concept (earlier post).

“Fuel cell technology is running in competition with long-range battery electric vehicles. We don’t know which technology will be the winner.”
—Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg

The technology developed and chosen for implementation in these demonstrators also reflects the Group’s focus on leveraging the capabilities of its modular toolkit approach (modularen Baukästen). (Earlier post.) Put another way, the fuel cell technology is being developed so as to work as components in the MQB (transverse) kit, the development of which is led by the Volkswagen brand, and the MLB (longitudinal) kit being driven by Audi.

The ultimate goal—one that Volkswagen Group and brand executives consistently emphasize—is to enable “bumper-to-bumper” production of brand models equipped with different drive systems (gasoline, diesel, natural gas, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and fuel cell) using the same production line. (Earlier post.)

The Group is not—unlike Toyota, Honda and Hyundai—announcing production dates and initial markets for its fuel cell vehicles.

In 2009, we forecast that a breakthrough in hydrogen fuel cells could not be expected before the year 2020. We are still convinced of this. The fuel cell is and will remain an important an important supplement to our electrification strategy. We wanted to show you that we will be ready to launch when all of the issues related to hydrogen infrastructure have been solved.

—Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Member of the Board of Management at Volkswagen responsible for the Development Division

Those issues include not only the availability of refueling stations, but also the ability to produce hydrogen from renewables, Dr. Neußer said in his remarks introducing the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion.

VW Technology Center for Electric Traction
Since the 1990s, Volkswagen has been researching the potential of hydrogen fuel cells and transferring this drive technology to production cars. At the end of the past decade Volkswagen decided to build a dedicated Technology Center for Electric Traction near its headquarters in Wolfsburg, to further advance its capabilities in fuel cell development.
The Isenbüttel site was chosen for this center and construction of a special research center for electric drivetrains began in 2001. The infrastructure of the technology center includes a dedicated hydrogen fuel station. Volkswagen produces the hydrogen for the pressure tank station from renewable solar-generated electricity. A photovoltaic array was installed at the site for this purpose.

The Fuel Cell Stack

The fuel cell system comprises more than 300 individual cells that together form a stack. The core of each of these individual cells is a polymer membrane, with a platinum-based catalyst on both sides of the membrane.

In a PEM fuel cell, hydrogen is supplied to the anode, where it is broken down into protons and electrons. The protons migrate through the membrane to the cathode, where they react with the oxygen present in air to form water vapor. Meanwhile, outside the stack the electrons supply the electrical power. Depending on load point, the individual cell voltage is 0.6 to 0.8 volts. The entire fuel cell operates in the voltage range of 230 to 360 volts.

The main auxiliary assemblies include a turbocharger that forces the air into the cells; a recirculation fan which returns unused hydrogen to the anode, thus increasing efficiency; and a coolant pump. These components have a high-voltage electric drive and are powered by the fuel cell.

There is a separate cooling circuit for the essential cooling of the fuel cell. A heat exchanger and a thermoelectric, self-regulating auxiliary heating element maintain pleasant temperatures in the cabin. The fuel cell, which operates across a temperature range of 80 degrees Celsius, places higher demands on the vehicle cooling than an equivalent combustion engine but achieves superior efficiency of as high as 60 percent—almost double that of a conventional combustion engine. Its cold-starting performance is guaranteed down to -28 degrees Celsius.

During the fuel cell workshop, Dr. Neußer said the Group is focused on two major areas of focus in the fuel cell stack to get the efficiency as high as possible with the goal of maximizing range. The first is to bring pressure losses as low as possible.

The second, and the key issue, he said, is the membrane technology itself. Volkswagen is working on nanostructuring the platinum coating to achieve as high a surface area as possible while also reducing the thickness.

(In an aside, Dr. Hackenberg noted that the nanostructuring work for the membrane assemblies has synergies on the battery side, where Volkswagen is exploring the use of very thin layer nanostructures very similar to what is being done on the fuel cell side.)

Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro plug-in fuel cell hybrid

Click to enlarge.

The Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro fuel-cell plug-in hybrid demonstrator features the fuel-cell stack in the engine compartment and an 8.8 kWh battery pack and an additional electric motor in the rear. The drive configuration gives the zero-emission Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro 170 kW of available power—a new level of performance in fuel cell cars. There is no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles; as an e quattro, the A7 Sportback h-tron quattro features fully electronic management of torque distribution.

Because the exhaust system only has to handle water vapor, it is made of weight-saving plastic.

The A7 Sportback h-tron quattro is a genuine Audi—at once sporty and efficient. Conceived as an e-quattro, its two electric motors drive all four wheels. The h-tron concept car shows that we have also mastered fuel cell technology. We are in a position to launch the production process as soon as the market and infrastructure are ready.

—Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi

In the fuel cell mode, the A7 Sportback h-tron quattro needs only about one kilogram (2.2 lb) of hydrogen to cover 100 kilometers (62.1 mi); the energy content of 1 kg of hydrogen is equivalent to that of 3.7 liters (1.0 US gal) of gasoline. The tanks can store around five kilograms of hydrogen at a pressure of 700 bar—enough to drive more than 500 kilometers (310.7 mi). The range is boosted by up to 50 kilometers (31.1 mi) by a battery with a capacity of 8.8 kilowatt-hours, which is recharged by recuperation or alternatively from a power socket.

Like a car with combustion engine, refueling takes no more than around three minutes. The Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mi) in 7.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 180 km/h (111.8 mph).

Top left. Hydrogen fuel cell system. Top right. High-voltage components. Bottom left. quattro drive. Bottom right. Packaging. Click to enlarge.

The 8.8 kWh Li-ion battery in the h-tron is adopted from the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid. (Earlier post.) The pack is located beneath the trunk and has a separate cooling circuit for thermal management.

The high-performance battery can store energy recovered from brake applications and supply powerful full-load boosting, enabling the impressive acceleration. Both the front and rear axles have no mechanical connections for the transmission of power. In the event of slip, the torque for both driven axles can be controlled electronically and adjusted continuously.

On battery power, the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro covers as much as 50 kilometers (31.1 mi).

The battery operates at a different voltage level than the fuel cell; hence, there is a DC converter (DC/AC) between the two components—this tri-port converter is located behind the stack. Under many operating conditions, it equalizes the voltage, enabling the electric motors to operate at their maximum efficiency of 95 percent.

The power electronics in the front and rear of the vehicle convert the direct current from the fuel cell and battery into alternating current for the electric motors to drive the front and rear axles separately.

The two electric motors, which are cooled by a low-temperature circuit together with the voltage converters, are permanently excited synchronous machines. Each of them (the same motor used in the eGolf, earlier post) has an output of 85 kW, or up to 114 kW if the voltage is temporarily raised. The peak torque is 270 N·m (199 lb-ft) per electric motor.

The electric motors’ housings incorporate planetary gear trains with a single transmission ratio of 7.6:1. A mechanical parking lock and a differential function round off the system.

Switching from automatic transmission mode D to S increases the level of energy recovery when braking, so that the battery is charged up effectively during sporty driving. Brake applications, too, are almost always accomplished fully electrically: The electric motors then act as alternators and convert the car’s kinetic energy into electrical energy that is stored in the battery. The four disk brakes only become involved if more forceful or emergency braking is required.

The four hydrogen tanks of the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro are located beneath the base of the trunk, in front of the rear axle, in the center tunnel. An outer skin made from carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) encases the inner aluminum shell.

Since 2013 Audi has been operating a pilot plant (earlier post) in which renewable wind power is used to produce hydrogen by electrolysis. At present, this hydrogen is still used in an additional production process to obtain synthetic methane (Audi e-gas). A future move to feed this hydrogen into a hydrogen supply and filling station network would make it available for refueling fuel-cell vehicles.

Golf Sportwagen HyMotion fuel cell hybrid

The Golf Sportwagen HyMotion is a full cell hybrid, that functions very similarly to a gasoline- or diesel-electric hybrid, except that the primary propulsion is electric, powered by the fuel cell.

Click to enlarge.

The hydrogen Golf highlights the potential of the MQB approach. The fuel cell, as noted above, is shared with the hydrogen A7; the 100 kW, 270 N·m (199 lb-ft) electric drive motor comes from the e-Golf, and the 1.1 kWh, 36 kW Li-ion battery pack comes from the Jetta Hybrid.

Volkswagen essentially is showing the Golf SportWagen HyMotion to demonstrate how a hydrogen fuel cell could be implemented in an MQB-based vehicle.

The motor and coaxial two-stage 1-speed transmission are located at the front of the engine compartment; also in the engine compartment are the fuel cell stack; cooling system; tri-port converter and the turbo compressor.

The power electronics are located in the center tunnel area; they convert the direct current (DC) into three-phase alternating current (AC) which is used to drive the motor. The power electronics also integrate a DC/DC converter, which converts energy from the high-voltage battery to 12 volts to supply the 12-volt electrical system.

The high-voltage lithium-ion battery is mounted close to the trunk and rear suspension. The 12-volt battery is also mounted at the rear. Two of the total of four carbonfiber composite hydrogen tanks are housed compactly under the rear seat and the other two in the luggage compartment floor. The hydrogen is stored in the tanks at a pressure of 700 bar. As in all other Volkswagen vehicles, the tank filler neck is located on the right side at the back of the car.

Energy flow display showing battery (blue), fuel cell, triport connector, auxiliaries (NV), fuel tank and motor. Pressing any of the powertrain elements brings up a display with more information. (Screen from the Passat.) Click to enlarge.

The lithium-ion battery is the second powerplant in the vehicle, and it plays an important role in the drive system. In addition to storing the energy recovered during regenerative braking, it is also an important component in all phases during which the chemical reaction needs to be initiated by feeding oxygen and hydrogen to the fuel cell (the latter via the turbo compressor), such as when driving off from a start.

At this point in time, the fuel cell has not built up enough electrical power to drive the motor by itself. In these phases, the lithium-ion battery jumps into action and supplies energy to the electric motor. The high-voltage battery also operates like a turbocharger during fast acceleration and while accelerating to top speed—i.e., boosting to supply overall system power of 100 kW or 134 hp.

The front-wheel-drive Golf SportWagen HyMotion accelerates from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 10.0 seconds; driving range is about 310 miles (500 km).


Account Deleted

These are obviously concept cars. A hydrogen tank is placed in the rear without the required crumble zone that is the security purpose of the trunk in the back.

It is a real problem that current design schemes for fuel cell cars do not allow for a full size trunk. So what could be done to remedy this? You can't insert a fuel tank in the front of the car as that area is also needed as crumble zone for car crashes. There is space at the back seats but then the car would become a two seat car which is unacceptable. The only solution I see is to do like Tesla and make a thick floor in the car and use that for storing five or four long hydrogen cylinders that go from the front wheels to the back wheels. Because of the lower packing efficiency and low volumetric energy density of the hydrogen cylinders the floor would need to be two or three times as thick as the floor in the Tesla. The car would look different than other cars being 10 to 15 inches taller than other cars with the same cabin space but otherwise it will have a full size trunk. The fuel cell could still be packed under the front seats and the battery pack under the back seats. I also think you could store more than the typical 5-7 kg of hydrogen in such a floor based system. 8-10 kg would probably increase range to 460 miles for a standard sized car and make it more practical as well. It would of cause cost more to use four or five tanks in the floor rater than just two tanks. However, the current fuel cell car designs are impractical (limited trunk space, not enough range or not safe enough) and an effective show stopper for fuel cell calls so something else has to be done.

That thick floor design with 4 or 5 gas cylinders could also be used to make a long-range (460 miles) car that run on compressed natural gas. Such a car would cost about 10k USD more than an ordinary gasser solely because of those gas tanks and even in mass production but NG is also only half the cost or less of diesel or gasoline. If the price of oil ever reaches 200 USD per barrel and stay above that price such a NG car could become popular.


We have hundreds of thousands of bi-fuel vehicles on the road in Europe, which have passed all relevant safety tests.

At the rear of the vehicle is pretty much where they put the tanks, including in the NG Golf and Polo.

Since they are pressurised containers they are inherently tough, unlike a petrol tank, and that toughness has of course been enhanced to make them meet safety standards.

I think in spite of the God-awful look of the Toyota, it is plain that they are a significant distance ahead.

In my view the engineers at VW are likely to have been taken aback by the 5.7% by weight Toyota have achieved in their tank, a pretty amazing figure at this stage.

The Toyota (and the Hyundai) have also eliminated the need for a compressor, which increases efficiency.
Having said that however the figures on efficiency are pretty darn good anyway.

The main area of concern to me in the design is the number of tanks, which increases cost.

That may to some extent be a function of not having as good a weight ratio for the hydrogen as Toyota, as well as not being prepared to use a purpose built platform or compromise accomodation.

The Audi is to me the most interesting design of the current generation.

If VW and Toyota don't know how it will pan out in the end between batteries and fuel cells, I certainly don't, and I have always felt as VW remark above that there are significant synergies.

The only technology that I find fully convincing at the moment is PHEV, and would like to see wireless charging coming in as it is for that too.

What sells in the end in my view is not ultimate efficiency, interesting though that is for us nerds to consider, but convenience, and the only technology we can currently do with no significant compromises either in fuelling times or cost or range is PHEV, especially if they don't need plugging in.

The 200 mile $35k BEVs we have in my view likely to arrive in 2016-7 will however certainly provide an attractive although somewhat compromised alternative.

Account Deleted

My expectations is that we will see 35k USD BEVs with 36kWh battery packs and 125 miles EPA rated range in 2016 to 2019 from the old automakers (such as a second gen Leaf). They will sell much better than the 24kWh versions currently selling at 30k USD and above that might have peaked in global sales already. Tesla will market a nearly 200 miles range EPA rated Model III by 2018 to 2019 starting at 40k to 45k USD for a single drive 50kwh version and up to 80k USD for a 300 mile P70D dual drive performance version doing 0 to 60 in 3 to 4 sec. The reason that Tesla can price their cars so low relative to the competition from old automakers will be their 50Gwh factory that will have the lowest cost batteries in the world.

There will be no mass market hydrogen car on the road until 2025 and more likely never IMO. Die hard zero emission apartment dwellers with no dedicated parking spot for electric charging of a BEV could skip car ownership and use driverless BEV taxis that will be massively available in large cities after 2025.


I think those without a convenient place to plug in at home will simply stick to petrol until there is a practical alternative.

They are not going to give up their cars en masse, nor fanny around driving somewhere to hang around whilst it charges.

PHEV with inductive charging might provide a partial answer, as drivers won't be stuck it they can't charge, and they could use opportunity charging whilst shopping without the hassle of plugging in for a few minutes charge.

The extra cash for the batteries won't be worth it unless they can get regular charging at work even if not at home though.

Moving from petrol is going to take decades, not years,
That is not to say that no progress can be made.

Account Deleted

Tesla will come up with fully automatic charging at home or in public using a robotic connector on their 10 to 20kW home charger or their 135kW public charger. The autopilot will park the car and start charging it that way after you get out of the car at the front door of your destination. This will be a possible for Model S owners with autopilot sometime in 2015 or 2016. Of cause it will take a year or two more before the Tesla supercharger network is upgraded in this way. The benefit over inductive charging is weight reduction and cost reduction for Model S, nearly 99.9% efficiency versus at most 95% efficiency for inductive charging more likely 90% and also probably at most 5kW charging for inductive charging. Of cause a robotic charger at home will cost you 3 to 5k extra and many will probably not want to pay that much for a little gimmicking at home. An inductive 5kW charger will probably add 3k USD to the price of a car and 50 pounds.



Automatic charging probably won't cost that much. There are lots of self-parking cars on the market right now, getting them to park near a charger is a minor software tweak.

The rest of the system could be prototyped in a few days by a class of 1st year engineering students: you just need to get a known plug into a known socket. Most of the safety systems are already part of the charging interface.

Account Deleted


I guess the first robotic home chargers for Tesla will cost 3 to 5k USD as they are low volume items. If Tesla can get to 30k unit sales per year or more the price could go down maybe in half. After all a power cable is not heavy so the robotic arm does not need to be strong. The Model S already has electric opening and closing of the charge port door and also autopilot. The latter just need a software upgrade.


Clearly electric charging pads come at a premium at the moment.
That is why they are starting out as on option on Mercedes.

There is no reason to assume that they will permanently have a large premium however, which is fortunate as if the city streets are ever to provide electric charging for the majority of vehicles kept ungaraged, there is no way that that can be done with charging posts and wires.

There is not remotely enough space to allow that.

It may be possible in Middle America, but that is a very small part of the world, and an even smaller part of its population.


Wireless charging in parking lots and on street parking could be popular, you might pay as much as fuel, but it is cleaner, more convenient using less imported oil.

Audi could follow on with a reformed diesel FCEV, they offer diesel engines, so this could be popular. You reform diesel to hydrogen for use in a PEM with 12 kWh battery capacity. While the reformer is starting, the heat can be used to warm the stack more quickly.

william g irwin

We just returned from Paris, and I was surprised to see several streets w/~ a dozen electric cars for rent curbside next to charging stations. You tap an ID card on a car that shows Green/charged, and go. I was impressed by the number of these ugly gray cars I saw scooting around. Things are changing!

Bob Wallace

EVs (and PHEVs) will likely be 'dispatchable loads' which the grid will use to smooth out supply peaks as we add more renewables to the grid. On average an EV will need to charge less than 3 hours a day with a normal 240 vac feed. By allowing the grid to determine actual time of charging EVs can be brought on line or taken off line as desired.

A very likely solution for those who have no place to charge where they park at night is to provide them charging during the day. Install grid-controlled, low cost outlets in work and school parking lots. Plugged in cars become daytime dispatchable loads, useful for regulating daytime peaks.

Dispatchable loads are important to and valuable for grids. They reduce the amount of capacity that has to be built. They minimize storage needs. They can help keep prices stable and avoid the use of expensive peaking power.

Bob Wallace

"I guess the first robotic home chargers for Tesla will cost 3 to 5k USD as they are low volume items. If Tesla can get to 30k unit sales per year or more the price could go down maybe in half."

I would imagine the cost of "robotic charging" could drop to "very low". Imagine this -

We require all cars to have rapid charge port at the same spot on the vehicle - 14" aft of the center of the front wheel and 18" off the ground / wherever.

We install 'parking guides'. Semi-flexible slots for front wheels. Until the car is all the way forward in the slot the charger will not operate.

The charging process is automated. First the car signals that it wants a charge and that its charge port is open. Then an arm from the charger slides straight out and the end engages with the car plug. By using appropriate materials and allowing a small amount of flexibility in the arm end no sophisticated control would be necessary. (Think - plug at the bottom of a funnel.)

Adding systems to make sure the access door was open and the car correctly positioned would be cheap. (Think really cheap digital camera and image analyzing software - simpler than face detection found in cheap cameras.)

Metal, a short run of flexible cable, a single motor to extend and retract the arm. The way to make the systems very cheap is to eliminate the need to 'think' and adjust. Make them 'stick and go'.

Bob Wallace

"Like a car with combustion engine, refueling takes no more than around three minutes."

While the advantage of FCEV cars is that they can be refilled faster than EVs this claim of "three minutes" is less than totally honest.

To refill in three minutes one first has to interrupt their drive and go to a filling station. Sometimes that may be a convenient as pulling over as you drive past. For many early FCEV drivers it would mean leaving your desired route and driving some significant distance.

Then you've got to get out, hook up, swipe your card, fill for three minutes, unhook, get back in, and return to your route.

While something similar will happen for rapid charging an EV the EV driver will only need to do that a handful of times per year when on very long drives. The FCEV drive will make 50 or more fueling stops per year.

What little time savings is gained on very long driving days is more than outweighed by the hours of refilling that happens during the rest of the year.


If it is the Audi PHEV FCEV detailed above then there would be few visits to fuel stations for regular commuting, mainly just swift fill ups on long runs.


I don't believe in the robot plug in system.
I think that inductive/magnetic resonant charging will be a lot simpler and will work fine and at good cost as the system matures.


It's good to know that Bob Wallace reads my blog and pushes my ideas.  Nice going, Bob.

if the city streets are ever to provide electric charging for the majority of vehicles kept ungaraged, there is no way that that can be done with charging posts and wires.

Networked, autopiloted cars with robotic chargers can swap themselves in and out of charging spaces while the owners do something else.  You can get a heck of a lot out of a few chargers that way.


I think it will be a while before cars take themselves off to get a quick charge on their own.

I'm not sure I would trust mine, it might decide to run off with that cute little coupe it met at the charger.

After all, it would have been subjected to a bad influence from its earliest days - me! :-)

Bob Wallace

No, E-P, I avoid you as much as possible. And while I agree that we may see autopiloted cars charge themselves that's a ways off.

if the city streets are ever to provide electric charging for the majority of vehicles kept ungaraged, there is no way that that can be done with charging posts and wires

That is obviously incorrect. All it requires is enough charging posts and connecting cables. Since it is not necessary to charge all EVs every night then we wouldn't even need 100% coverage, just a smart assignment system so that the cars that need charging would be able to plug in.

I'm not saying that would be the best, most economical solution, just a workable one.


There is simply nowhere to put the charging posts, wires etc in the quantities needed in crowded European and Asian cities.
Simply have a look using street view at the streets in the cities there, and the cars banked up on both sides of every side street.

Bob Wallace

Dave, yes, a PHEV with a H2 fuel cell range extender would mean few trips to fill up but the discussion is about FCEVs, not PHEVs.

The problem for PHEVs (gas, diesel, or H2) is that once battery prices drop below about $250/kWh then PHEVs are no longer competitive.

And it seems that Tesla may now be paying Panasonic only $180/kWh for batteries.


I don't have any firm opinion on wireless vs. plug in charging at this time. I can easily see many people moving to wireless for 'ordinary' charging. But I've not read about a demonstration of wireless rapid charging - the sort of power exchange done at a Tesla supercharger. In the future we might do some of both, wireless charge for normal days and plug in for speedy charges on long drive days.

I can't see spending big money for a Tesla robotic home charger. Why not just install a wireless charger for a few hundred dollars and a small amount per mile to cover the inefficiency of wireless charging?

A loss of less than 10% from what I've read. Would increase electricity use from 0.3 kWh/mile to 0.33 kWh/mile or a third of a penny. Less than $50 a year for a 13,000 mile driver.


The article is about the VW group's FCEV offerings, which include the Audi PHEV FCEV, and VW tell us that to them the best use of hydrogen would be in a PHEV configuration, although they have also shown straight FCEVs here.

As for battery costs, I don't agree with your cost analysis as to the competitive break even points, as you need one heck of a battery pack to not have severely compromised range.

You also seem to be confounding the cell price from Panasonic with the battery price.

Tesla battery packs, as opposed to the cells, appear so far as can be worked out to be in the range $250-300kwh.


I do not share the scepticism about not being able to charge electric vehicles in heavily built–up areas by apartment dwellers. Those of you old enough might remember the concept of biberonnage charging (Victor Wouk and others in the 1980s). A few 15-20 minutes charging opportunities at supermarkets, restaurants, public and work car parks etc. could easily provide 100 miles daily driving range for these vehicles without the need for dedicated charging points. The only proviso is to have sufficient number of well distributed fast charging points at these locations to meet the demand.

Bob Wallace

The EIA/McKinsey number of about $250/kWh (in the linked figure) says battery price, not pack price.

But let's assume that's incorrect and it's pack price. When the new Tesla/Panasonic giga factory is up and running the cost of cells-batteries is expected to fall to about $130/kWh. Doubling that number to reach pack price still kills PHEVs.

And, as you state, Tesla battery packs are now likely in the $250 to $300/kWh range. At the low end of that range PHEVs are finished. The giga factory should knock $50 off the price bringing the upper end into PHEV-killing range.

The material cost for lithium-ion batteries is about $70/kWh. We are heading toward $100/kWh batteries. As the price moves down capacities are likely to continue increasing. That means that we will need fewer pounds of batteries to power an EV a mile which decreases the amount of kWh storage that needs to be purchased. EVs become even more price competitive.

There appears to be some point out there, this year or a very few years from now, at which PHEVs are priced out. Regardless of whether the range extender is an ICE or a fuel cell.

Bob Wallace

In a UCS survey 56% of US drivers reported having a place to plug in where they parked. About 14% (16%) could use an existing outlet where they park at work.

Expanding work/school outlets is likely the best route for reaching the other ~44%. It's going to be easier to install strings of charge points in parking lots. (Head to head parking means only one "post" per four cars.)

That, and apartments/condo and parking garage that are already installing outlets. Some locales are already requiring charge spots for new construction.

Bob Wallace

Let me share this, just read it a few minutes ago -

"Speaking at the JP Morgan Auto Conference in New York, Toyota’s senior vice president Bob Carter said that Department of Energy estimates suggest that a full tank of compressed hydrogen will cost around $50. This will fall to $30 in time, however.

Toyota’s ‘mass production’ fuel cell car will have a range of 300 miles when in arrives in California next summer. Refueling will takes minutes, while the Japanese giant says it has modeled “specific locations” that will enable the majority of owners to reach a station in just six minutes.

By comparison, nationwide fuel economy figures indicate that the average driver pays $44.50 to travel 300 miles while owners of the Toyota Prius, with its EPA rating of 50 mpg, pay just $21."

I can't determine if the $50/$30 price for H2 includes road tax or not. Let's assume, out of caution, it does.

That says that right now it's going to cost more than twice as much per mile to drive an H2 FCEV than to drive an efficient ICEV. Why would someone pay as much or more for a FCEV and then 2x+ as much to drive it?

Even when we work the price down to Toyota's assumed lowest price it's still going to be cheaper to drive an ICEV.

Unless FCEVs can be built in high numbers prices are very unlikely to come down. And unless there are a lot of FCEVs on the road the investment for a H2 infrastructure won't be available.

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