April 23, 2021

Hydrogen vs Electric Powered Vehicles

When you compare  electric cars vs. hydrogen cars, it is essential to first understand how each technology works.

In an electric car, instead of fuel combusting to provide energy to an engine, lithium-ion battery is used to supply electricity to a motor, which then turns the wheels and powers other elements of the car. When depleted, instead of going to a gas station, an electric car is recharged by plugging into the electricity grid, much like with a telephone or computer.

A hydrogen car works differently, although it does also contain an electric motor. Inside a hydrogen-powered car, a fuel cell filled with hydrogen reacts with oxygen, resulting in the chemical production of electricity and water vapor. This electricity is then used to fuel the motor. To “refill” a hydrogen car, its hydrogen fuel cell needs to be topped up via pressurized tanks available at specific service stations.

Powering/Refueling Time

The amount of time it takes to pump hydrogen into the tank is 5 to 10 minutes.  While Tesla’s fast chargers (with 120 kW) give batteries 80% power in half an hour, the BMW i3 or the Nissan Leaf can take around 4 or 8 hours, respectively, to get fully charged. In the end, the time electric cars take to power depends obviously on the chargin stations and the type of charging connector. But whatever the combination is, and even with Tesla’s most recent V3 supercharger that’s still in beta testing in San Francisco, this is a clear win for the hydrogen car – all because of 1kg of hydrogen storing 236 times more energy than 1 kilogram of lithium-ion batteries.

Available Power/Refueling Stations

The number of power stations for electric vehicles is growing every day and there were 20,000 electric charging stations in the United States by December 2018. A big number when compared to the less than 45 hydrogen refilling stations in the US, most of them in the California area, according to the US Department of Energy. Indeed, the infrastructure, supply, and the technology of hydrogen cars are still years behind electric vehicles.

Price

While most fully electric vehicles can travel between 100-200 miles on a single charge, hydrogen ones can get to 300 miles, according to AutomotiveTechnologies. When it comes to the price as well, electric cars are more affordable. The price for hydrogen fuel cell vehicle starts at $60,000 while the electric vehicle starts at $21,000

Driving Range

Hyundai Nexo (hydrogen powered) can travel around 330 miles or 550 km, which is around the same as the electric Tesla Model S, the best of its kind. Nonetheless, it’s hard to accurately tell the driving range of these cars. It depends on a number of metrics such as the number of passengers the car is taking, if the air-con is on or off, whether the car is on a high-road or stuck in the city center traffic, the type of vehicle itsel. While most fully electric vehicles can travel between 100-200 miles on a single charge, hydrogen ones can get to 300 miles, according to AutomotiveTechnologies.