Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fuel cell merry-go-round

Because there are are so few of them, to keep the dream alive fuel cell vehicles need to be schlepped around. CARB and the automakers need a "travel provision" that gives California ZEV credits to fuel cell vehicles even when they have relocated to other states.

Now that Volkswagen's 16 FCVs have done their required duty at the Beijing Olympics, they have moved on to Sacramento. The VW press release boasts that along with the eight FCVs already housed at the California Fuel Cell Partnership, "these 24 vehicles create the largest fleet of fuel cell cars from a single manufacturer at one location anywhere in the world." Awesome or pathetic?

VW also brags "These vehicles logged nearly 50,000 miles in Beijing - with zero harmful emissions." That's about 3000 miles each. I log that amount every two months or so on my electric car. SCE could log 50,000 miles every week or so with its Toyota RAV4 EV fleet.

Mary Nichols recently decried the ideological/theological debate between battery and H2/FCV advocates saying "from the point of view of a regulator, this is madness. We know that we need both." But the truth is we don't know that. We can't know that yet. But we know plug-in cars are in the pipeline. They're coming. We know that electric vehicles can do today much of what needs to be done with all the benefits fuel cell cars can only, less efficiently, promise. We know that without plug-in vehicles California can not achieve its GHG reduction goals. And we know that consumers are anxious for plug-in cars. The only madness here is a regulator digging in its heels against all evidence.