Brussels (Brussels Morning) Leading German carmakers are not prepared to go all-out on battery-electric cars in the near future, betting instead that the hydrogen fuel cell technology might prove a viable, and perhaps a more lucrative alternative.
Automotive industry giants such as BMW and Audi are counting on a possible change in policy which might turn in favour of hydrogen, after a number of leading industries in the country have already focused on hydrogen, such as the steel and chemicals sectors.
With the German Greens’ party very likely to be a part of the next government, following Sunday’s upcoming federal elections, the carmakers are expecting that the eco-friendly party will likely push for greater investments in hydrogen, which could improve infrastructure and make hydrogen-powered vehicles much more viable.
BMW has already completed a hydrogen-powered prototype of its X5 SUV model, and Reuters reports the company is preparing to expand the programme to a fleet of about 100 test cars by next year.
BMW vice president and head of its hydrogen power programme Jürgen Guldner has completed a roadmap leading towards a mass-market model, which is to be expected around 2030. Gulner promises that the technology will be ready for consumers, regardless of whether it is propelled by politics or by consumer demand.
Its rival, Audi, is reportedly also working on hydrogen fuel cells technology, with some 100 engineers working on a concept which could eventually be expanded to the entire VW group, Audi’s owners.
While the future of hydrogen in cars might still be uncertain, the world’s largest truck producers, Volvo and Daimler for example, are focusing all their efforts on hydrogen, believing that batteries will remain too heavy for a viable long-distance transport vehicle.
As long as hydrogen remains too costly as a power source, coupled with necessary infrastructure and technology to utilise it, policy changes could quickly move to make it more affordable, or even most affordable. The German Greens plan on using hydrogen for powering ships and planes, and will seek to invest in zero-carbon hydrogen, produced solely from renewable source.