Fuel cell vehicles may hit US streets in 2017

Posted by Shane McGlaun

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been in development for a number of years, but haven't yet hit mainstream adoption to a lack of a viable hydrogen fuel infrastructure.

Without the nationwide availability of hydrogen to fuel such vehicles, it makes little sense to build and offer cars for sale to the public.

Fortunately, three industry heavyweights - Ford, Mercedes and Nissan - have all agreed to target 2017 for the delivery of fuel cell-powered vehicles. As previously discussed on TG Daily, the trio have been working on designing fuel-cell-powered vehicles, with a number of prototype automobiles showcased in recent months. 

Unsurprisingly, one of the only locations in the United States with available hydrogen fuel  is Los Angeles, California. Mercedes-Benz has been leasing its fuel cell vehicle in this area for a few model years to help gather real-world usage information. Toyota has also been working on its own fuel cell vehicle, while BMW recently announced an agreement that will cover the joint development of a fuel cell stack, hydrogen tank, and electric motor for a production fuel cell vehicle. It should probably also be noted that Toyota previously expected to have a fuel cell vehicle available for the public by 2015.

Essentially, a fuel cell vehicle is a car that uses electricity to propel the wheels. The fuel cell stack uses hydrogen to generate electricity that is used to propel the car. The most compelling reason to use fuel cell tech? It produces no pollutants, except water from an exhaust pipe.

Of course, the big challenge still faced by automakers is finding a safe way to house the highly flammable hydrogen, which is typically stored under high pressure at to 10,000 psi inside tanks.