Getting Behind Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles

When I was in middle school, a report was published suggesting that our oil supply as we know it would run out by 2050. At the time, I thought 2050 sounded close enough to motivate us to at least start THINKING about how to deal with this dramatic change, but far enough away to completely ignore it, too, which most of us did. Immediately.

Unfortunately, 2050 is no longer far enough away to allow Hummers and F-150s and 250s to stay on the road. Even more unfortunately, Americans (politicians and constituents alike) don't seem to care. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers declares that, in a mere 25 years, oil production will be 20% of our current consumption. Again, 25 years doesn’t sound super near, meaning it’s enough time to greatly increase populations world-wide and oil-driven industries. But don’t forget, in the scope of Earth’s lifetime, 25 years is nothing.

Europeans understood the severity of this long before we did. They also realized that to replace gas guzzlers with zero- and low-emission vehicles, they needed infrastructure to support it. Hydrogen-powered vehicles began to roll out this past spring and hydrogen fueling stations were already in place all over the continent.

Toyota FCV-R hydrogen fuel-cell concept car, 2012 Detroit Auto Show
Photo Source: Green Car Reports.
Toyota FCV-R hydrogen fuel-cell concept car.
Roll out in 2015.
The US is far behind, according to this article from the LA Times. Not only is the ratio of gas stations to ALL alternative fuel stations 16:1, but there are fewer than 25 hydrogen fueling stations in the entire country. Californians are lucky because about a third of them are in the state, but nearly all of those are concentrated in LA and Orange counties. This leaves few alternatives for those in the San Joaquin Valley.

American automakers and distributors would like to start selling hydrogen cars, like the Toyota FCV-R hydrogen fuel-cell car shown at the right, in 2015. However, 2015 is now! It's here! and without the necessary infrastructure to support these vehicles, no one will purchase them.

Sure, the automobile wasn’t invented in the United States, but the Oldsmobile factory in Lansing, Michigan did start the movement of mass producing affordable cars. We’re in the land of opportunity and, as Wikipedia declares, we Americans are “characterized by a strong work ethic, competitiveness, and individualism”. So why are we so behind in mass producing cars with the latest environmentally-friendly vehicles? We have the ingenuity to take the lead on this movement; so let's take advantage of it.