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The Hydrogen council has spoken

The Toyota Mirai has a range of 502 km and sells for US$57,000. Source: Toyota

Investment in hydrogen R&D to rise as Shell, Total and Toyota plan Hydrogen Council

 Toyota, Daimler, BMW, Honda, and Hyundai are set to bet US$10.7 billion on research and development of hydrogen-related products over the next five years, in collaboration with Royal Dutch Shell and Total. The massive planned investment calls into question claims that EVs will monopolise the car industry in the future.

Overall, 13 companies will form a Hydrogen Council with the broader aim of stopping global warming from rising above 2 degrees Celsius.

The invention of the group in Davos, Switzerland this week comes in the wake of the signing of the Paris Agreement last year. In addition to the nations which ratified the agreement in 2016, many companies have also pledged to combat climate change; Toyota, for example, has pledged to rid 90% of CO2 emissions from its vehicles by 2050.

The Hydrogen Council aims to accelerate their combined investment of US$1.5 billion in R&D over the next five years.

A number of car companies have staked an interest in hydrogen, with Toyota and Honda having commercialised the Mirai and FCX Clarity respectively. Many others have brought out products related to the technology in previous years.

Despite the vested interest of these companies, hydrogen uptake has been muted. Sales currently make up 0.1% of the car market in the US, and are predicted to stay at that level over the next decade. Although the technology is still in its infancy – at least in the consumer market – questions persist over the cost of building FCVs themselves, and over the creation of hydrogen-refuelling infrastructure.

EV manufacturers certainly hold top trumps in terms of affordability and charging stations. IHS Inc. reported of 12.7 million units expected worldwide by 2020. The fairly cheap Tesla Model 3 will enter the market this year, a front-runner of the affordable EV market. Car sharing is becoming a popular idea, which will also help EV cars to be an inexpensive option for people.

Although the EV market is stronger than ever, manufacturers struggle to combat recharging times and range anxiety – in this area, hydrogen’s certainly got game. With billions of dollars now being poured into R&D perhaps we can expect a hyd-regeneration in 2017 and coming years. Nevertheless, it is not hard to see why hydrogen cars are a little unpopular for the moment.


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