According to Autocar BMW will not launch a hybrid vehicle unless “it is more economical in the real world than a diesel car”. This follows frustration in the automobile industry that hybrids cars are becoming synonymous with environmentally friendly driving when diesels have often proved to have a better fuel economy. So the search for a cleaner, more environmentally friendly motoring future continues.
But perhaps the future now lies with hydrogen fuel cells. Having read the excellent ‘Green Driving’ supplement in the last weekend’s Sunday Times, I have to agree. For starters these fuel cells do not emit any carbon dioxide. Plus its energy efficiency can be up to 80% (i.e. 20% of the energy is not lost) versus 15% for fossil fuels. Sounds great!
But the challenge that all of these newly proposed eco-friendly fuel types face is infrastructure. People won’t buy the cars without stations to refuel them and refuelling stations won’t be built without the cars on the road. It is your classic chicken and egg.
But with government backing, hydrogen fuel cells appear to be overcoming this challenge. Los Angeles already has 25 hydrogen refuelling stations while the governor of California, Arnold Schwarznegger, is pushing to build 200 of them over the next 5 years as part of a plan for a “hydrogen highway” across the States and Canada. And have you seen the fuel cell powered Honda FCX Concept? If, like me, you like the idea of driving a car that resembles something out of a recent science fiction film then you’ll love it! It is expected to go on public sale in the US next year and personally I think it looks awesome.
All of this suggests that hydrogen fuel cell cars are just round the corner. And if you live anywhere along the A23 between London and Brighton then they probably already are! As I write a convoy of biofuel, hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cells cars are heading towards Trafalgar Square showcasing the future’s most eco-friendly cars in the Revolve Eco-Rally. Is this a glimpse of a cleaner, more environmentally friendly motoring future? We are told that many of these cars are “real, affordable motoring choices”. Perhaps the future is closer than you think.