Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Automakers Losing Religion; CARB Keeps Unfounded Faith

The expense and impracticality of hydrogen fuel cell powered cars is beginning to dawn on the major automakers. Batteries will do within a few short years what H2 advocates can only dream. The Wall Street Journal reports GM, Toyota Doubtful on Fuel Cells' Mass Use.
Top executives from General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. Tuesday expressed doubts about the viability of hydrogen fuel cells for mass-market production in the near term and suggested their companies are now betting that electric cars will prove to be a better way to reduce fuel consumption and cut tailpipe emissions on a large scale.
Further evidence that the action is in electric cars and the batteries that will energize them: General Electric has invested $4 million in Th!nk Global, and $20 million in A123. Business Week reports GE plugs into electric car investments. And Th!nk has debuted a larger concept car, which it has developed with an unnamed major automaker. Green Wombat has more info here.

Pretty soon it might be down to BMW and Honda advertising the dream, with the California Air Resources Board acting as enabler. CARB staff is recommending lowering once again the required number of zero emission vehicles - this time by a mere 90%! Honda, the supposed H2 true believer, is actually given an incentive to produce fewer of its much touted Clarity FCV.

The Air Resources Board could probably find a way to lead by prodding early commercialization of battery ZEVs, but instead it appears to be regulating itself into irrelevancy.


liveoilfree said...

Actually, CARB was ordered last year to release the Auto Alliance from building Fuel Cells, but it took CARB this long to manufacture its excuses.

Now, it's to facilitate "blended hybrid plug-ins" such as the GM Dual Mode Tahoe monstermobile.

CARB is abandoning the ZEV numbers it agreed to in 2003, admitting that it was all a shuck.

They join the same lying song as GM, Toyota and Honda: we'll get clean (but not just yet).

They all pretend to claim that developing fuel cells will take an additional 10 years, whereas the real story is that they know they can't make fuel cell cars in any quantity at all, and also don't want to make battery ZEV either.

So CARB is just a co-conspirator with the Auto Alliance, doing its usual thing of colluding with the folks it's supposed to regulate.

Doug Korthof

Peter S Magnusson said...

Marc, I couldn't find your email address but I assume this is moderated so I thought I would post here.

I've been curious as to why EV doesn't take off, not just in light of rising oil prices but of course in light of the likely damages from global warming.

But my conclusion seem to differ from the "common consensus". I conclude that it simply boils down to battery costs, and that these are still much too high. I summarized my thoughts in a recent posting on my blog. In short, I estimate that the external cost of the CO2 emissions are on the order of $1000 over the lifetime of the car, and battery costs over that lifetime seem to be upwards a magnitude higher. Am I missing something fundamental in my reasoning?

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