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Hydrogen cars on their way out?

May 13, 2009 |  8:00 am


One of the key tenets of the Bush-era energy policy was the nascent development of a "Hydrogen Superhighway," which was one part of a grand "Hydrogen Economy." To those in the know, this was a make-believe and far-off world where your car runs on clean hydrogen that you fill up at the local hydrogen station or is produced in your garage, and it was about as close to a flux capacitor for your DeLorean as it was to a Honda FCX Clarity in your garage.

What was forgotten, at least to the people who made the energy policy in the first place, was the fact that it takes more energy -- a lot more with today's technologies -- to create a kilogram of hydrogen than a gallon of gas. And if you take time to think about it, there was no infrastructure in place to deliver the fuel to the vaporware hydrogen cars that quite a few of the car companies -- BMW, Honda, Ford and GM -- also developed at a major loss.

Well, consider this one more move from the Obama administration to distance themselves from the Bush administration. Quietly, may we add, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a briefing on the energy budget to reporters last week, that the days of the hydrogen car may have passed before they even started.

"We asked ourselves, is it likely in the next 10, 15 or 20 years that we will convert to a hydrogen car economy? The answer, we felt, was 'no,' " said Chu.

Chu then went on to cite the need for better fuel cells and a near complete lack of infrastructure as reasons why they chose to cut more than $100 million  -- from $168 million to approximately $68 million  -- from the U.S. Department of Energy budget.

Now, if we can only get Doc Brown on the case, we may have something...

-- Jon Alain Guzik

Jon Alain Guzik is the editor-in-chief at

Photo of FCX Clarity Credit: Honda