Jaguar Land Rover’s technical design director Wolfgang Ziebart has dismissed hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles as a “complete nonsense”.
Ziebart, who was appointed by JLR boss Ralf Speth in 2013 to orchestrate the development of the company’s I-Pace battery electric vehicle, said hydrogen did not make sense as a fuel for electric vehicles due to its inherent poor efficiency.
“The well to wheel relationship from the energy source to the vehicle is a disaster,” he said.
The process of producing the hydrogen and then compressing and cooling it for use in a fuel cell vehicle uses a great deal of energy.
“You end up with a well to wheel efficiency of roughly 30% for hydrogen, as opposed to more or less well to wheel 70% efficiency for a battery electric vehicle,” explained Ziebart. “So the efficiency of putting the electric energy directly into a battery is about twice as high as the efficiency of producing and using hydrogen.
“Also, you have to consider the fact that the battery itself has a high efficiency of around 90% or so.”
“This is the most important argument. The other stuff – for example, the infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell refuelling not being developed yet – that can be overcome. If there was a strong reason to have a hydrogen infrastructure, then I think it would be set up, but with this disastrous well-to-wheel relationship, it doesn’t just make sense.”