One of the most senior forward-thinkers at Europe's bigger car-maker has told Autocar that he thinks hydrogen-powered cars won't turn out to the global emissions panacea that the wider motor industry is cracking them up to be.
Volkswagen's head of research Dr Jurgen Leohold told Autocar that he thinks fuel cell cars like VW's own HyMotion Touran research car (pictured) are not the future of alternative power, and are only really being developed as a sop to ever-tightening emissions laws in places such as California.
Describing them as a “marketing exercise,” he said their inherent problem lies with producing the hydrogen fuel to power them, and in establishing an infrastructure of hydrogen filling stations. "Because hydrogen has to be produced using existing power, CO2 emissions are still an issue," he said.
Instead, Dr Leohold reckons the immediate future of alternative power for cars lies with biofuels and beyond that with battery power, and we’ll see huge improvements in battery technology in the next five years. “You can see it already in mobile phone and computer batteries,” he said.
General Motors has already announced it will put the battery-driven Chevrolet Volt into production by 2010, a decision dependent on a big steps forward in battery technology.