After developing three generations of hydrogen-powered cars, Fiat says that it is still too difficult for states to implement a hydrogen infrastructure that can compete economically with the one already delivering CNG (although researchers have discovered hydrogen can be mixed with CNG and transported via the same pipelines).
Moreover, the company sees no huge efficiency gains as compared to a diesel engine. Instead, they give the example of their newest Panda CNG which emits only 86 grams per kilometer of CO2.
Also, Fiat claims that the fuel cells in use nowadays get too easily poisoned with the carbon monoxide that is released in the fuel cell, during the conversion process.
The Italian automaker sees battery-powered electric vehicles as the future of transportation, with wireless charging embedded in the asphalt. Retrofitting a country the size of Italy or UK to have such a charging system would cost about $77 bln (far too expensive, in my opinion). Autocar says a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham (121 UK miles) would cost about $46.2 bln.
While CNG may be the shortest route to go green in the short run, electric vehicles are the long way. Despite its anti-electrification policy expressed by their CEO (“pure masochism,” he calls it), Fiat has recently started producing the 500e, a small electric car appreciated by most reviewers out there.
Unlike Tesla, whose Elon Musk has been believing in the electric car ever since he and his partners started the company, Fiat doesn’t seem to believe in such a future and doesn’t want any loss whatsoever (Tesla has been on loss for 10 years until they finally got profitable in 2013).