Why Hydrogen Cars Will Be Tesla’s Biggest Threat

Why Hydrogen Cars Will Be Tesla’s Biggest Threat

If you ask anyone what the
future of cars looks like, they’ll probably tell you it’s electric and that Tesla is at the
forefront of the movement. But what if I told you
that there’s another option that could be just as good or even better than
battery-electric vehicles? What if you could power cars with the most abundant
resource in the universe with water as the only byproduct? And they’re more likely to
disrupt the auto industry than battery-powered cars, like Teslas. Hydrogen fuel cells have been a technology of great promise as well as great skepticism. Elon Musk himself often mocks
hydrogen fuel cell technology, going so far as to call them “fool cells” and “mind-bogglingly stupid.” But major automakers still see promise. First, let’s define the terms. Battery electric vehicles, or BEVs, are the electric vehicles that most of us are familiar with today, like Teslas. They use a battery to store electricity and power the electric motor. A hydrogen fuel cell
electric vehicle, or FCEV, like Toyota’s Mirai,
combines hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity, which then powers the electric
motor that drives the car. Now, when it comes to why people don’t buy battery-electric vehicles like Teslas, there are three main reasons: They take too long to recharge, they have a limited range before they need to be recharged, and they cost a lot more than your comparable gas-powered car. So, how do hydrogen cars
stack up in these areas? When it comes to recharging, hydrogen cars have battery-electrics beat. At a supercharging
station, a Tesla can charge anywhere from 30% to 50% in 15 minutes, but you’ll be at the charging
station for over an hour for a full charge. Fuel-cell vehicles don’t
require charging at all. The hydrogen tank is refilled
at a hydrogen station in less than five minutes, just like your typical gas station today. That’s because FCEVs don’t store electricity like a battery; they create it on demand
to power the motor. When it comes to range,
hydrogen-powered cars seem to come out on top again. Between the three fuel-cell
vehicles on the road today, they have a range of
312, 360, and 380 miles. Most electric vehicles have a range under 250 miles. While some Tesla models offer a range of more than 300 miles, they often cost more than the
average car buyer can afford. Range and refueling times are so important that 78% of automotive executives believe fuel-cell vehicles
will be the breakthrough for electric mobility. But that’s not to say fuel-cell vehicles don’t have challenges of their own. FCEVs need more competitive pricing. The suggested retail price
for the fuel-cell vehicles available today is around $60,000, which is about $20,000 more than an entry-level BEV. That’s because production
size of these vehicles is incredibly low. With
only a few thousand or few hundred being made every year, it’s nearly impossible for
prices to be competitive. But that could soon be changing. Automakers are looking to
increase the production of their FCEVs. Toyota in particular has increased its production capabilities
tenfold to eventually bring down the cost of its Mirai. The real challenge for hydrogen fuel cells is the lack of infrastructure. In the US, the majority
of hydrogen stations are in California, with just over 40 available to fuel-cell owners. For FCEVs to become the breakthrough that automotive executives believe in, a vast network for
hydrogen stations is vital. And automakers are slowly
working to make it happen. Jackie Birdsall: We do get to
work together with the other automakers, as well as with,
you know, here in California, the state of California and
the industrial gas suppliers, or whomever the energy provider is, to be able to site hydrogen
stations where it makes the most sense for all of
the automakers’ vehicles. And so that’s to try to make sure that any investment that we make is best leveraged by all of the consumers from all of the automakers
that currently offer fuel-cell vehicles. Narrator: If and when
fuel-cell vehicles scale, Tesla will have a tough
challenge on their hands. They’ll have to increase
range while simultaneously decreasing recharging time and price. But Teslas, and any
battery-electric vehicles, are limited because of the
law of diminishing returns. Increasing the range
requires a larger battery. A larger battery will add
more weight to the car. After a certain point, the added weight no longer yields additional range. With FCEVs, it’s just a numbers game. More hydrogen stations equal more cars, and more cars equal more
affordable fuel-cell vehicles. Tesla has a lock on the
zero-emissions market in America, controlling a whopping
60% of the EV market. But that’s still only 2% of the entire US car market. And those numbers decrease
when we talk about the global car market. The only thing really holding
FCEVs back is infrastructure, and as hydrogen stations
become more abundant, Tesla could lose the majority
of the zero-emissions market. For a technology that’s
“mind-bogglingly stupid,” it has serious potential to
become a real competition for the very same customers
that Tesla’s aiming for. So, Elon might want to take notice.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Nobody is talking about the battery waste which will be generated. We are still facing the problem of E-waste which is increasing day by day. People are not recycling it and that thing is going into our oceans. I thing hydrogen fuel is the fuel of future. But hydrogen is also highly combustible. So we need to address many problems.

  2. 2:17
    miles is actually supposed to be kilometres because the fastest road legal car's top speed is 304 miles (according to Google)

  3. If governments require gas stations to add hyrdogen fueling – battery electrics will lose out. it's that simple. both are more expensive than gasoline cars… but hydrogen cars have much longer range and much faster refill

  4. People seem to think that EV drivers are frequently spending hours at charging stations. I own an EV and have never had to charge it at a charging station, it just charges in the garage over night. Compare that with fueling a gas car and an EV may actually require less active time for refueling unless you're taking it on a road trip or something.

  5. A man invented this years ago an was killed by the government the man invented cars to run on water 💦 so this would be nothing new back in the 80s I believe the man came with the idea 💡

  6. 🙄Let's see you charge a hydrogen vehicle at home! I love my EV because I can just plug it in while I sleep and drive happily to work and back WITHOUT stopping for bloody anything – be it hydro cell or gas!

    Think about it. When YOU charge at home ( or even at work, shopping etc ) YOU eliminate traffic… Traffic that's caused by millions of commuters who have to make another friggin stop on the way to wherever. That delay equals more traffic!!!! Drive electric!

  7. Mmmm u didn’t consider Tesla ‘s step where they make batteries interchangeable… also didn’t consider cons of hydrogen infrastructure which is a lot more vulnerable and riskier than gas station and battery stations…….

  8. you forget something huge the fact of producing hydrogene by separrating the hydrogene of the h2o take too much energy to be eco

  9. This guy doesn’t know anything. Batteries and range continue to improve. There is no talk about car companies jumping on hydrogen so how is it suppose to compete. I could see a hydrogen electric hybrid that gives you best of both for those longer trips

  10. Two things. Cost per mile, long term. And doesn't anyone remember the Hindenburg? Elon was right. The first one that is in a serious wreck is going to be an eye opener.

  11. I’m glad companies are working on hydrogen fuel cells, but EVs seem to be much more likely in the near future. Infrastructure is going to be a lot easier to set up with EVs as opposed to with fuel cells. Plus electricity is cheap

  12. Battery tech is getting better especially with solid state batteries on its way. Also price to performance is great especially the longer you have it and compared to gas or hydrogen most likely

  13. 1 hydrogen is mostly created through petroleum http://www.airproducts.com/Products/Gases/Hydrogen.aspx
    2 Solid State Batteries https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0nA8CfxBqA

  14. High pressure tanks is THE culprit.
    When H2 can be stored in hydrides (when declassified!) even Tesla can very easily adapted to H2.
    For Tesla H2 will then be just another type of battery.
    And by the design Tesla surely win because competitors are really ugly !

  15. what is cost to recharge? I heard it is much more expensive than gas. Electric is much cheaper than gas, and I recharge at home most of time.

  16. While electrolysis is an option, most hydrogen is still being made from natural gas fossil fuels! It costs millions more to build a hydrogen station vs a charger or traditional gas station.

  17. “Elon might want to take notice” LMAO I didn’t want to buy a Tesla but I might in the future. I believe Elon over these money hungry executives

  18. 4:30 i don't know shit about batteries but i can instantly tell this is incredibly misleading. In order for it to be true tesla would have to keep using its current battery technology forever with no new technological advancements whatsoever… that's an incredibly stupid expectation to say the least.

  19. Thing is, tesla isn’t just an electric car, think about all the quirks it has that makes you wanna buy a tesla like self driving capability, periodical updates and more, its not just about the infrastructure or electric vs hydrogen, its what is attractive to the consumers

  20. It takes more energy to make the hydrogen than the hydrogen can produce, and after a hydrogen car fills up it takes the station 20 minutes to make more before it can fill another car! Dumb! Duh!

  21. It's also 8 times more expensive to produce. And it can blow up (Just what you want in your car). Where is Tony Stark when you need him?

  22. using a 50 foot extension cord is too inconvenient? so… im guessing then your local government doesnt have smog regs on cars and gas is $2 a gallon then?

  23. hey… if you love gas stations & making oil billionaires richer at your own expense.. by all means… you should just keep doing what you're doing.

  24. no shame. I have friends at work who are married to gasonline & ice engines. what ever floats your boat man. I bet there were guys like that back when we only rode horses. #notgivingupmyhorse

  25. A. Those hydrogen model cars look like garbage
    B. If the arguement that the future is bad for tesla because if these cars that's a bad argument because tesla has many plans ahead, with better technology like solid state battery which can increase charge time and mileage. So the future for hydrogen looks bleak compared to electric.
    But I ain't gonna bash other new tech.
    Also one charge can last majority of users a day of driving or more. The problem is road trips. People can drive all day in a tesla and come home to recharge at night.

  26. Except I think there are few factors, important questions you're forgetting. Do hydrogen cars pollute less, will they affect our water supply and are more efficient, required almost zero maintenance and can I refuel at home over night like I do with an electric car? If not then I think Elon Musk is absolutely right. So far I think I rather stick with an electric car than a gas-powered car and a hydrogen car. I don't think this is a threat to Tesla or even the Nissan Leaf, Ford's newest Mustang that's an electric SUV or any other car industry that's producing an electric vehicle at all.

  27. Yomiyama MISAKI … I disagree. it's hydrogen that has reached its' peak. cybertruck has a range of 500 miles. gen 2 roadster has 600 mile range. Elan isn't telling us what's in the 'secret sauce' right now… probably solid state lithium. here's what is KNOWN about hydrogen. it costs A FORTUNE to separate it from water. once you've separated it- it costs 3x as much again to get it from gas to liquid state. a cryogen compressor. this equipment is VERY expensive and VERY maintenance intensive. if you don't believe it- ask anyone who works with liquid fueled rocket engines and they will tell you: Liquid hydrogen is NOT CHEAP. of course… you could just use compressed hydrogen gas… but then your fuel cell wouldn't have any range. hydrogen is just to expensive by the time you get it too the car. $8 a gallon at present. SO… AS an electric car owner myself… I pay $.50 a gallon now. so going hydrogen makes no sense in ANY case scenario.

  28. I guess there will be some high class hydrogen cars like the S class with fuel cell, to go on the Autobahn. But most people wont spend extra money on fast refueling, if they only tracel for long vecations a view times a year.

  29. He completely ignored the performance aspect! Tesla 0-60 under 3 seconds, Toyota Mirai is over 10 seconds! The big battery in the electric cars allows much faster discharge that the tiny battery of a fuel cell car.

  30. This video is right about one point, the biggest problem facing hydrogen vehicles is the lack of infrastructure. The problem is that isn't likely to change.

    With EVs the baseline infrastructure for EVs preexisted EVs. Most charging was and still is done at home. This meant there was an initial market for EVs to get the ball rolling. As more EVs were made, the demand for fast charging to make them more convenient for long distance travel grew and so the infrastructure to support that has been and is continuing to be made.

    With hydrogen vehicles, the baseline infrastructure does not exist. In order to drive a hydrogen vehicle you must have access to a hydrogen refueling station. Without these stations there is no market for hydrogen vehicles. But without the vehicles existing there is no incentive to build the infrastructure to refuel them. To have coverage for the whole US would mean thousands of these stations and all of there supporting infrastructure. And again, this has to come first, meaning a massive upfront investment and losses before you can start making more than a handful of cars.

    Remember, the one advantage of hydrogen over electric is fast refueling for road trips. But that requires that there are refueling stations along the way and at your destination. Right now, a cross country road trip in an EV is less convenient than in an ICE vehicle but it is possible and was possible from the start and the gap is shrinking as higher power charging becomes more common. Right now, you can't drive a hydrogen car outside of California and even then, the existing infrastructure there can only support a small number of vehicles.

  31. And if Tesla's upcoming new battery technology increases the range by a significant margin, then this video will become a moot point…..

  32. Lol. This is just more propaganda from Big Oil. I doubt that hydrogen will even be used for ships or planes. It's energy density per unit volume is too low. It's more likely that synthetic hydrocarbons will fuel ships and planes, while cars and trucks will run off batteries.

  33. Within 5 years, it's likely that battery's energy density per unit mass and volume will improve by a third, battery's cost per kWh will halve, and the time to charge to 80% capacity will be under 10 minutes. Then no one will ever mention hydrogen fuel cell cars again.

    Btw Business Insider, how is Tesla's muddy field in Shanghai going? I see that you haven't updated that hit piece (sorry, intelligent, balanced, and well-produced video) you made earlier this year on Tesla's Shanghai factory.

  34. This is Jabroni Bullshit. Fuel Cells lose on charging because the hydrogen gas is very expensive. In some stations in California a fillup, which does only take 5 minutes, will cost anywhere between $80 and $100. Charging your car at home with off peak electricity prices is around $10. If you have your own rooftop solar (which Tesla sells) it costs you far less to charge your car. The Fuel cells also do not last anywhere near as long as a battery. 150k miles on a fuel cell at current prices and you are looking at $50,000 worth of fuel you will have to buy vs $5000 of off peak power or less if you have rooftop solar or super cheap time of use pricing (some markets this will cost you about $1000 for the electricity). If you look at time on road trips, yes the EV takes longer, but if you look at cost to charge, the EV is 10 times cheaper.

    The hydrogen stations are also few and far between with my region, the Inland Empire, only having ONE station. Many people will have to take a 40-mile round trip drive to make it to the station. The stations are also incredibly expensive, costing millions of dollars to install, and there is no justification for building them since hydrogen cars are extremely rare.

    The performance difference between the $60k FCV and $60k Tesla Model 3 is also very different. The Toyota is a slow car with poor acceleration and handling and the Tesla has BMW acceleration and great handling.

    The worst part, hydrogen fuel from electrolis is very expensive, far more expensive per mile than an EV, the remotely only affordable hydrogen comes from natural gas, so these fuel cell vehicles aren't even green.

  35. The cost of ownership of EVs (namely Teslas) are much lower then ICEs. You pay greater upfront expense but save money in maintenance and per mile costs of driving.

    All of those hydrogen cars are ANEMIC. If you want shit to sell it needs to be fun or at the very least comparable to what people already have. I'll take my 500hp P3D- that accelerates like a Mclaren over some 152hp POS… Did I mention Teslas have better MPGe?

    Infrastructure requirements for EV stations on the grand scheme of things are relatively low. The entire US is electrified, so the energy supply is already there. All the EV industry has to so is solve "the last mile" problem. Hydrogen gas isn't nearly there.

    Tesla has a few more tricks up their sleeve then just "making bigger batteries"… Perhaps your reporting would yield some interesting discoveries in density for them.

  36. Hydrogen cars have proven to failed in China already. They have been using it for many years and why still not widely adapt? The tech is not sustainable and causes pollutions. Oh I see, you are posting negative news because you are feeling the pains of shorting Tesla stock. I feel you. Lol

  37. more gas car whiners. waaahhh. hey… I don't have a problem with it. rent an apartment… at the end of 15 years instead of equity… you get a stack of rent receipts. drive a gas car.. and at the end of its' short 200k life (if you're lucky) you'll have spent enough money on gas to PAY FOR another car and you'll do the same thing again. must be a lot of oil company employees on here? or maybe oil exec's assistants?

  38. Because this video does not address the actual problems with hydrogen. Its just infrastructure. Right. If that was all it was (and that is a huge problem) then ok, maybe. But it has WAY more issues. Hydrogen. It is the smallest atom possible, therefore it is very hard to contain as it can leak thru almost any valve or tube. Put that under pressure, which you must do to get any density, it is even worse. Leaks = blows up. BOOM. Hydrogen also binds to almost anything. So material used in containment, lines, cylinders, must be of only inert materials. This also means hydrogen is not found easily in its pure form, it must be broken off some other molecule. Today this is done with fossil fuels. Hydrogen is removed using electricity. Lots of electricity. It then must be pressurized (electricity) then transported to distribution centers (gas/diesel) and then stored under pressure and safely at a station (electricity). Each storage facility today costs about 8 million dollars per gas station. Then it must pumped into your car (electricity). The tank in your car will be about the size of your entire back seat to contain enough Hydrogen of enough density to go anywhere. It must remain under pressure. It is not a liquid. It is a gas. This gas is then fed to a very, very expensive fuel cell that uses it to generate electricity. It does not generate enough amps (power) on demand to propel an EV so every fuel cell car must have batteries to store enough available power to run a car normally. The fuel cell just charges the battery (like a generator). The battery propels the electric drivetrain and captures regenative braking electricity. So any fuel cell car can just skip everything but the battery and just charge from the grid and be many orders of magnitude more efficient. Car makers like it because you still have by power by the gallon. That's it. It is the most idiotic form of car propulsion that you could dream up.

  39. FUD is FUD. That Toyota Mirai with 312 miles of range costs 15K MORE than the Model 3 Long Range that gets the same if not better milage. So that statement "Tesla often costs more than the average car buyer can afford" is just horse feathers. And I bet 78% of Automotive Executives also believe that selling us defective vehicles through a system where we are forced to haggle with some sleaze ball who lies about the price, and later rapes us in servicing fees for bogus repairs is how to build trust in a customer.

    Even Nikola, the company who believes "100%" in Hydrogen, now claims that the battery version of their trucks will get 80% of the range of the fuel cell version. That's a couple tweaks to the aero of the skin, improvements to the cooling system, and over-the-air tweaks to the battery management and power control systems away from full parity.

    That quote at the end had me laughing. "Tesla will have to increase range while simultaneously reducing charging time and price" …. Lol, isn't that EXACTLY what they've been doing? Hell, they've increased performance and range and reduced charging times of EXISTING vehicles FOR FREE with software updates! People have just woken up to a faster, better car. Maybe a Hydrogen car could do that… But only because those improvements happened to the battery electronics… Not to the fuel cell.

    And the chart of diminishing returns… Hilarious. It ignores the ACTUAL reality which is that in only 5 years many manufacturers have doubled the range of their vehicles with an improved battery pack that fits into the same size space and weighs the same. Meanwhile hydrogen cars will never get more fuel dense, so the only range improvements will come from a bigger hydrogen tank… Or improvements to the battery. Which means that sooner or later, BEVs will surpass Hydrogen in miles per cubic foot of space, and then it will all be a moot point.

  40. Business Insider, you guys are high. You didn’t even bother to cover the immense energy requirements for hydrogen production which so far has proven to not be feasible at mass scale for a society.

  41. WRONG. AGAIN. charging a tesla (motor club reviews by ACTUAL owners) is between 82% to 90% efficient depending on climate and rate of charge. NOW: hydrogen. by electrolysis, you lose 20% right off the top. plus the cost of distilled water. Liquifying the hydrogen so it can be stored & pumped into the car is around 15% energy loss. that's before the sellers & middlemen get their profit. that's before you have to do the maintenance on the equipment to generate, transport, chill and compress the hydrogen. so… 35% of your product is waste before you even start. and then big oil STILL controls the price, so don't expect that $8 a gallon price tag to go down anytime soon.

  42. One thing that is not talked about is the first hydrogen car can charge I five minutes. The second hydrogen car has to wait 20 minutes or longer to fill up. Plus the hydrogen stations cost allot more to build than a EV charging station. Good luck buying a hydrogen car. No need to take notice at a failing technology.

  43. Elon said this "Mind bogglingly stupid" its correct BECAUSE hydrogen is a really flammable gas even a small spark can ignite hydrogen. So cars have batteries don't they??? What if the hydrogen escapes from where it is stored and what if there will be a spark inside of the cars mechanics?? Simply you will go sayonara so yeah that's it hydrogen cars are some back dated modern stuff they have more flaws than an electric car.

  44. No charging at home, very high maintenance, high costs and hugely expensive and explosive compressing stations that can only fill a handfull of cars per day. Plus hydogen that's made fom methane and has to be transported by truck. Congrats!

  45. Still looking backwards, hydrogen is definitely not the answer to any sensible question about the future of transportation.

  46. 4:29 Well, that’s a flawed analysis. You’ve completely ignored the Energy Density factor, which is key. Tesla batteries currently have an estimated energy density of 250 – 300 Wh/kg (amount of electrical energy stored per kilogram of material). As Tesla improves their battery technology, energy density will eventually reach 500 Wh/kg (long-term path demonstrated through their acquisition of Maxwell Technologies). So over time, for the same amount of battery capacity, costs will decrease (since less raw materials are required) and range will increase (since overall battery weight will decrease). So yeah, BEVs are the future.

    P.S. If you’re seeing this in 2025 or later, tell me I was wrong! 😉

  47. I wonder why they didn't mention the cost to refuel. According to the California fuel cell partnership it costs about $0.21/mile to refuel. Driving an average of 15,000 miles per year puts you at $3,150 per year in fuel costs. A tesla model 3 costs about $0.019 per mile in Texas or $281 per year. So basically you would end up paying over 10 times more to use a fuel cell vehicle. What are they smoking at business insider that they think anybody in their right mind would seriously consider buying this type of car when it costs this much more to operate. I guess it makes sense why they would completely neglect this point in the video, otherwise, they have no video to make.

  48. You cannot find hydrogen usable and readily available across the universe, self generating ZPE will be used for antigravity purposes will become the norm period.

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