Saturday, February 14, 2015

Elon Musk Is Right:  Hydrogen Is ‘An Incredibly Dumb’ Car Fuel - by Joe Romm

Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained at length why hydrogen fuel cell cars “are extremely silly” and why “hydrogen is an incredibly dumb” alternative fuel.

Musk also said, “there’s no need for us to have this debate.  I’ve said my peace on this, it will be super obvious as time goes by.”  Indeed, it is super obvious already, as I’ve written many times....  A key reason Musk calls hydrogen “incredibly dumb” — its untenably inefficient use of carbon-free power compared to electric vehicles (EVs) — is detailed below.

In the meantime, Musk — whose Tesla bio lists him as “Co-Founder, CEO, and Product Architect” — has been amping up his efforts to be the next Steve Jobs and to make his electric car company, Tesla, the next Apple.  Bloomberg reported last week that the 6000-worker company “has hired at least 150 former Apple employees, more than from any other company, even car makers.”

“It’s almost an unfair advantage,” according to Morgan Stanley auto industry analyst Adam Jonas.  He told Bloomberg, “As software goes from 10 percent of the value of the car to 60 over 10 years, that disadvantage [for traditional carmakers] will intensify.”

But will Tesla be the next Apple … or will Apple be the next Tesla?  Apple has itself poached 50 Tesla employees, supposedly “offering $250,000 signing bonuses and 60 percent salary increases” — a heck of an incentive to work at a company so successful, its market capitalization just hit the all-time record of $700 billion!  Business Insider reports that an email from an Apple employee says its still-secret effort, “will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money.”
In a 2006 Scientific American article I wrote with advanced-hybrid guru Andy Frank, we explain that “The entire process of electrolysis, transportation, pumping and fuel-cell conversion would leave only about 20 to 25 percent of the original zero-carbon electricity to drive the motor.”  But in an EV or plug-in hybrid, “the process of electricity transmission, charging an onboard battery and discharging the battery would leave 75 to 80 percent of the original electricity to drive the motor.” So the hydrogen car is more like one third as efficient as the EV.

Put in more basic terms, the plug-in or EV “should be able to travel three to four times farther on a kilowatt-hour of renewable electricity than a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle could”!

Read more at Elon Musk Is Right:  Hydrogen Is ‘An Incredibly Dumb’ Car Fuel

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