According To Elon Musk’s Explanation, Hydrogen Is “Incredibly Dumb”

“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life” — Frank Zappa

While the U.S. and Europe are going for electric, Japan has chosen to go for hydrogen. On January 20th, Tokyo announced their plans to spend $385 million on fuel-cell vehicle subsidies and hydrogen stations for the 2020 Olympics. This budget will be used to build 6,000 hydrogen stations on the roads by 2020 and is in negotiations with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Corp. This decision disappointed the entire world, including Elon Musk. And in his recent interview, the Tesla CEO explained why hydrogen fuel cell cars “are extremely silly” and why “hydrogen is an incredibly dumb” alternative fuel.

“Hydrogen is an energy storage mechanism. It’s not a source energy. So you have to get that hydrogen from somewhere. If you get that hydrogen from water, you’re splitting H2O, electrolysis is extremely inefficient as an energy process… If you say let’s take a solar panel and use the energy from that to just charge a battery pack directly, compare that to splitting water, taking the hydrogen, dumping the oxygen, compressing the hydrogen to an extremely high pressure (or liquefy it) and then putting it in a car and running a fuel-cell; it’s about half the efficiency, it’s terrible. Why would you do that? It makes no sense,” said Elon.

Musk also said, “there is no need for us to have this debate. I’ve said my peace on this, it will be super obvious as time goes by.” Indeed, I’ve written about serious environmental impacts of hydrogen vehicles. Besides, hydrogen is extremely powerful. It’s highly flammable and always in the news for the potential risks associated with it. Moreover, up to 90 percent of all will be refined from oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels, which means we will continue drilling into the ground if we choose to go for hydrogen.

Despite those frivolous words that have been used to describe hydrogen cars by other carmakers, Elon called them “bullshit” in 2013, briefly noting their relative high cost and infrastructure issues. In 2014, Musk said “they’re mind-boggling stupid” and “success is simply not possible.” Why?

“Consider the whole fuel cell system against a Model S. It’s far worse in volume and mass terms, and far, far, worse in cost. And I haven’t even talked about hydrogen being so hard to handle.”

Here’s Elon Musk full interview:

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