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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Too Expensive, Volkswagen Focusing Elsewhere

Volkswagen XL1 at the Geneva Motor Show - 261mpg Diesel Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Prototype
Volkswagen XL1 at the Geneva Motor Show – 261mpg Diesel Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Prototype

With all the hype on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, European automaker Volkswagen is focusing on other, more profitable projects.

While hydrogen fuel cell technology has been around for decades, it has only just now started to become possible to put them into vehicles. Some automakers are aiming for 2015 to get a production vehicle in front of the public, but not everyone is on the bandwagon. True, hydrogen fuel cell size is coming down and lifespan is going up, but costs are still not coming down fast enough for Volkswagen.

Instead of pursuing hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technology, “impossible to build at a reasonable cost” according to CEO Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen will be focusing on other vehicle technology. They’ll continue their research into fuel cell, but perfecting and expanding the lineup of hybrid electric and pure electric vehicles will be the main focus for now.

There’s still plenty of innovation left in hybrid electric vehicles, such as the XL1 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that was shown this year at the Geneva Motor Show. A combination of a super-efficient diesel engine and a plug-in hybrid electric system, the XL1 hybrid is designed for 261mpg. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will come eventually, but Volkswagen’s got that on the back burner for now.

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  1. Good point bnjroo. Battery fires are uncontrolled and toxic and hydrogen flames radiate very little heat. I have driven VW’s fuel cell vehicle back in 2006… just said that VW is dropping the ball in the near-term when the world is choking on pollution from coal and natural gas power plants. Hydrogen from renewable energy makes much more sense to me. H2 vehicles only take 3 minutes to fill opposed to 8+ hours for a battery-saving slow charge. Fuel cells win the life-cycle game over batteries too.

  2. Lame VW! Until you mass-produce Fuel cells they will always be too expensive. Guess you deserve being left behind because other electric car options fall short of the mark! Besides, ask Boeing how lithium batteries are working in their 787’s…

    • Andrew h2 well, every technology has its hiccups. for example, you know that hydrogen is highly combustible and can spontaneously ignite by spark or even sunlight and that the flame is nearly colorless. what’s going to happen the first time a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle bursts into flame? it’s going to happen. we won’t give up the technology though, just like NASA didn’t give up shuttles after Challenger exploded.
      true, VW isn’t pursuing the technology as much as other makers, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do so in the future or even take advantage of other makers’ technology like Daimler/Ford/Nissan and Toyota/BMW. Toyota didn’t bother developing EV technology in-house, but used a powertrain developed by Tesla Motors in the RAV4 EV.


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