Fiat turns away from hydrogen power, opting for compressed natural gas in the short term
6 June 2013

Fiat has bucked the industry trend towards developing hydrogen fuel-cell cars as a long-term alternative to internal combustion engines by turning its back on the technology after three generations of development.

Fiat believes that hydrogen, as the smallest and lightest atom, is too difficult to pump along pipelines across the country in the way that natural gas is distributed.

The company also believes that fuel cells are too short-lived, as hydrogen which has been reformed from fossil fuels still contains small amounts of carbon monoxide which slowly poison the platinum catalysts.

Fiat also says the technology offers no huge efficiency gains over a diesel engine when the energy used to reform hydrogen is taken into account.

Fiat’s preference in the short term is for compressed natural gas (CNG). Fiat says its CNG Panda (which emits 86g/km of CO2) is not only better for air quality than a diesel-powered car, but also better than petrol cars.

With home converters, which would allow owners to fill up with CNG from their domestic supply (already a reality for some US homes), it would be a convenient, cheap and relatively clean fuel.

In the longer term, Fiat wants to see electric vehicles charged wirelessly on the move using a current set into the road - an idea similar to the inductive charging already demonstrated in the UK by Qualcomm Halo.

Batteries would then only need a range of about 20 miles to get from one charged road to the next. Fiat reckons the cost for a country the size of Italy or the UK would be about £50 billion. This compares to the estimated £33 billion cost of the new high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham. 

However, hydrogen still has many supporters, Hyundai and Kia among them. Korea produces enough hydrogen as a by-product of other chemical processes to drive 240,000 genuinely green cars (there are 31 million cars on UK roads). While admitting that reformed hydrogen still produces CO2, Hyundai and Kia say the overall CO2 impact is lower than that of a conventional engine.

Our Verdict

Fiat Panda
Panda’s 4 star EuroNCAP crash score falls short of some rivals

A very fine multi-use little car that offers an enticing ownership proposition

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Comments
11

6 June 2013

I'm not sure if they're the first to see sense, BMW did the 7 series hydrogen project in 2007 and dropped it a few years later.

Anyhow 7 years later they're about to bring out battery and Hybrid cars having worked out the  best way forward.

By the end of the year pretty much every one will be onboard with the battery/hybrid idea.

   

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

6 June 2013

Thats only a short term view they have taken, they will have to think again when diesel gets banned, Just like leaded petrol was.

 

6 June 2013

Agree with supertax, it is short term. Oil, gas etc is not going to last forever, whereas hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. If that can be harnessed, then it will make loads of sense to use it. I have no qualms about electric cars becoming the norm, but until the short range and long chrage times are sorted, then I doubt it will happen.

While I like the idea of charging wirelessly electric cars as you drive along, can you imaging implementing that in the UK? In Edinburgh they can barely fit a set of rails into the road for trams, let alone do the while country with technology that isn't fully developed yet. And where is 50 billion quid going to come from?

6 June 2013

'In the longer term, Fiat wants to see electric vehicles charged wirelessly on the move using a current set into the road'

Has anyone worked out the additional power generating capacity that would be needed to keep this charge-as-you-drive system working? You don't want people drawing power during peak daytime hours it's too demanding on the infrastructure. Charging at night is the only viable solution for mass EV usage in the UK. Also, how would you police it? Anyone with an inductive coil could help themselves to free electricity. Has this been thought through sufficiently?

jmm

7 June 2013

Comes down to whose judgement you agree with - Fiat... or the likes of the following who have announced dates for the start of sales of their fuel cell electric vehicles to the consumer, Hyundai (2013), Toyota (2015) Honda (2015), Daimler, Nissan, Ford (2017). This week it was also reported Audi are testing a fuel cell version of their A7.

I'm only guessing, but perhaps Fiat have taken this stance, as they have not (unlike the above) invested in the development of automotive fuel cell vehicles over the last decade or so, and now find themselves way behind.

7 June 2013

I don't know what future holds for motoring, but we need to move on from the fossil fuel for sure. Not only because it emits carbon and other harmful substances but because of its political fallout.

Another war in an oil producing country and we're looking at £3 per litre or perhaps even unending lines of cars leading up to the petrol stations that have run dry. Sad, but not implausible.

8 June 2013

I like the idea of charging wirelessly electric cars as you drive along

10 June 2013

not macho enough to attract male buyers.

steroids on Facebook. steroids on Twitter.

5 July 2013

It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, العاب بنات but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

 

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