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Hydrogen Vehicles

EV vs Hydrogen Vehicle


Electric vehicles are becoming more widely available, and better at what they offer.  But potential consumers of EVs have a checked enthusiasm towards going out and buying one; and for good reason.  The main inquiries lie around how pricey a new EV is to purchase, their fire risk, crash safety risk, their range between top ups being rather poor and subsequent charging times way too long, the lack of charging stations, as well as their candid hidden impact on our environment which is actually very big.

EVs require big, powerful rechargeable batteries that use lead–acid (“flooded”, deep-cycle, and VRLA), NiCd, nickel–metal hydride, lithium-ion, Li-ion polymer, and, less commonly, zinc–air, sodium nickel chloride in their design.  It is worth noting that these expensive EV batteries require a bigger carbon footprint in their production and use a finite resource to make them.  Then there is the environmental cost of battery disposal when the spent battery needs replacing.  So, are we any better off driving EVs?  The answer would have to be no.

Actually, no vehicle driven on our road can be classed as purely “green” or “environmentally friendly” for people and their environment.  The fact is whatever car we choose, buy and drive; it will have some ecological impact.  Perhaps the best way of describing this would be that all vehicles impact on our environment and pollute, while other vehicles do so a lot more, and then some do so a bit less.  It is quite false to suggest that EVs are environmentally friendly.

That brings me to the question: What is the most environmentally friendly vehicle?  There are some major car manufacturers that are pushing forward with hydrogen power.  A hydrogen driven car is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that produces the electricity that the electric car engines need.  Hydrogen vehicles only take five minutes to top-up, and provide much better range.  The only emissions are water, because inside the fuel cell hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce water as a discharge.  So, hydrogen vehicles don’t emit pollutants.  Hydrogen can be produced from fossil fuels and natural gas, but it can also be produced from renewable energy sources by way of electrolysis.

I think hydrogen is the best way forward, and the Hyundai Nexo is the first vehicle to arrive in Australia that’s available for the Australian government and business fleets to use.  The reason for its limited availability is simply because Australia doesn’t have an organised hydrogen refuel station network set up, as yet.  But I can see this changing to it becoming common place on all fuel station forecourts across Australia.

Hyundai, Toyota and BMW are some of the key hydrogen vehicle designers and manufacturers.