Vehicles based on hydrogen fuel cells are still 15 years away to becoming a viable business for manufacturers, informs Reuters. In the best case, the manufacturers will be able to sell only two million electric vehicles based on fuel cells until 2020, according to a study conducted by the National Research Council. This figure represents less than 1% of the cars located at that time on U.S. roads.
In 2003, president Bush has proposed to spend $1.2 billion to develop fuel cells. In 2005 the congress has requested the National Research Council to consider how many money would be needed from the federal budget for these cars to reach a significant percent until 2020.
General Motors, Honda Motor and other manufacturers have already started the tests of limited fleet of such vehicles.
The supporters of these cars see them as a solution for reducing oil consumption and CO2 emissions because fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. These cars only emit water vapors.
Another impediment to the development of fuel cells is the need for platinum, an expensive metal which represents 60% of the cost production of such cars. Still, there has been recently discovered a new method of making hydrogen fuel cells‘ PEM membrane of other materials than platinum.
The study shows that the best way to reduce oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the next 20 years represents hybrid cars and gasoline consumption efficiency. The environmental movement also supports this idea.
Cars and light trucks consume 44% of the oil used in the American economy and produce over 20% of CO2 emissions.