Knowledge is always changing. Volkswagen now seems to have a more positive attitude towards hydrogen cars, but remains fully committed to battery cars. We happened to find an interesting infographic from Volkswagen in which they clearly explain why hydrogen cars are not the best solution for a sustainable future.
“In terms of tackling climate change, the electric car is better than cars using fuel cells and combustion engines using synthetic fuels (eFuels), a fact documented in studies,” Volkswagen says firmly. To support this claim, they published the infographic below in 2021.
Electricity only needs one intermediate step from the mill (or any sustainable source for that matter) to the electric vehicle. On the way from the source to the car, about 20 percent of the energy is lost. In the car itself another 4 percent. So the efficiency of the electric car is 76 percent. Not a bad mark.
With hydrogen, it’s a different story. Once you convert the energy into hydrogen, 30 percent is lost. If you convert a gas into a liquid, about 10 percent is lost. Then you still have to transport, store and fill things. The car itself then converts the hydrogen into electricity. At the end of the day we are talking about 30 percent efficiency.
Is hydrogen then no space?
If you look at efficiency, hydrogen is not the future. However, there are other material advantages. There are already many petrol and diesel filling stations that can be converted. It is also true that adding fuel and hydrogen does not put pressure on the energy grid. The fact that you fill your tank within five minutes (provided there is enough pressure at the pump) is of course also something to say.
In addition, hydrogen cars are much lighter than cars with large batteries. If you are looking at big cars, it may be more efficient not to give them big batteries (which cost a lot of raw materials), but to run them on hydrogen. Think trucks, but also ships and planes.
Even hydrogen combustion engines
Toyota said earlier that they also saw a market for hydrogen combustion engines. In terms of efficiency, this is a completely stupid idea, but the technology is simple and cheap. Not everyone will have money for a battery car in the future, but maybe for conversion set.
There are a number of products that clearly state that hydrogen will be an important part of the mixture, for example BMW. Volkswagen currently has no clear plans for mass production of hydrogen cars, but they also seem to have a door in the door.