Personally, I think both battery electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell cars, such as the Toyota Mirai, have a place in the future of transportation, but maybe the solution isn’t that clearly cut.
Ahh, the age-old debate between battery electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell cars… Actually, can we call it an “age-old debate” if it’s only been going on for a few years? One would have to say that it’s been going on for at least a decade, even though the technologies behind modern battery electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell cars go back decades. The first battery electric cars go back as far as 100 years!
Of course, now that battery electric cars have hit their stride, Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf spring to mind first, one has to wonder if latecomer-to-green-transportation hydrogen fuel cell cars, such as the Honda Clarity and Toyota Mirai, are “too late” to make a first impression or right on time. Like hybrid electric cars, the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car has a backup battery, but uses the fuel cell to generate electricity on-demand. Like battery electric cars, the Toyota Mirai generates no emissions, but requires just minutes to refuel.
Technology aside, there have been some “shots fired over the bow,” so to speak, most notably by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, who said “you know what” and says they should be called “fool-cell” cars. Even Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn expressed concern over the glaring lack of hydrogen fuel cell supporting infrastructure. Still, there are at least a couple automakers pushing forward with mass-market hydrogen fuel cell cars, the results of which are quite encouraging. In Japan, Toyota has already confirmed over 1,600 orders for the Toyota Mirai and, in the United States, some 16,000 “want to know more” about its development and release.
Time to fire a shot across Tesla Motors’ bow, then, as Toyota Senior Vice President of US Operations Bob Carter has done, at least off-record. The official press release contains none of it, but the speech in person was quite astounding. Covering a variety of topics, not the least of which was the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car, Carter expressed his “disappointment” in Musk’s earlier statements, which I would suppose means that he thinks Musk probably shouldn’t focus too much on battery electric cars as the only solution, saying “If I had all my eggs in one basket, I might be making the same comments.” Funny, people said the same thing about conventional cars in their infancy, as well as electric cars in their infancy.