Hydrogen cars are on the way. The first two mass-produced, purpose-built hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles will hit Toyota and Honda showrooms next year. So if you’re looking for a zero-emission vehicle, it might be a good idea to study up on fuel cells.
This infographic should help. It was made by Hyundai (via Electric Cars Report), which is already selling a fuel-cell car in California. The 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell is a version of the Korean carmaker’s small crossover that’s been converted to fuel-cell power.
A fuel-cell is actually an electric car, but without batteries. Instead, electricity is generated by splitting hydrogen molecules into positive ions and negative electrons. The ions pass through a membrane, while the electrons travel around it to recombine on the other side. The only byproduct of the process is water.
That clean process, and the fact that most fuel-cell cars have ranges comparable to standard internal-combustion vehicles, has made hydrogen the holy grail of zero-emission advocates for some time.
However, the difficulty of producing hydrogen, the cost of the cars, and the need to build a massive network of fueling stations, have kept fuel cells off the road in significant numbers until now. Will Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda change the status quo? Stay tuned.