Can fuel cells be a better option than EVs?
As the automobile world is moving its focus to electric vehicles, traditional names like Tata Motors to new-age technology companies like Ather Energy and Ola are throwing their hat into the ring with an array of mobility solutions. As pollution levels touch extraordinary levels and the impact of climate change starts to make itself all the more apparent, a new wave of mobility seems to be taking root.
Every automobile enthusiast celebrated the introduction of EVs. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) were the first EVs to hit the market. Despite their merits, these cars are not a viable alternative to Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) based vehicles because they have a limited range-per-charge capacity and are reliant on external charging facilities.Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, or FCEVs, can overcome this shortcoming and prove to be a better alternative to traditional ICE vehicles.
FCEVs do not require external charging and instead use a fuel such as hydrogen to create the electricity needed for driving and to charge the built-in batteries for auxiliary functions. FCEVs, like ICE-based vehicles, will require gasoline, but it will be a green fuel that will not pollute the environment. What’s more, they do not produce noxious exhaust fumes; their only by-product is pure, distilled water, making it a clean, green mobility solution that can serve us all.
So when can I drive one?
Although FCEVs are not yet present in India, they have been tested. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), the country’s largest power provider, had encouraged the automobile industry to procure such vehicles for experimental projects in 2021.
According to news sources, the project has caught the interest of major automakers Toyota and Hyundai Motor, as well as Indian companies Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, and KPIT Technologies. Because their powerplants are so specialized, FCEVs are also much costlier to build than regular gas-powered cars, causing a bit of a catch-22 situation, as consumers are waiting to jump on this bandwagon once ownership costs get rationalised and the refueling infrastructure gets created. Automobile companies, on the other hand, are holding their cards close to their chest as they try to understand if there’s enough consumer interest to warrant the hefty investments FCEVs demand. This is a Mexican standoff that will go on for some time yet.