• 3 minutes e-car sales collapse
  • 6 minutes America Is Exceptional in Its Political Divide
  • 11 minutes Perovskites, a ‘dirt cheap’ alternative to silicon, just got a lot more efficient
  • 6 days The United States produced more crude oil than any nation, at any time.
  • 7 mins Could Someone Give Me Insights on the Future of Renewable Energy?
  • 7 days How Far Have We Really Gotten With Alternative Energy
  • 10 days James Corbett Interviews Irina Slav of OILPRICE.COM - "Burn, Hollywood, Burn!" - The Corbett Report
  • 10 days The European Union is exceptional in its political divide. Examples are apparent in Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden, Netherlands, Belarus, Ireland, etc.
Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba is a writer and journalist based in Mexico City. She has extensive experience writing and editing environmental features, travel pieces, local news in the…

More Info

Premium Content

Can Hydrogen Cars Compete With EVs?

  • Hydrogen is projected to account for 16% of road transport, potentially competing with battery-powered electric vehicles.
  • Challenges in hydrogen production efficiency and sourcing remain, with different types of hydrogen production presenting varying environmental impacts.
  • While hydrogen-powered cars face hurdles, the shipping industry is poised for transformation as hydrogen offers a viable solution to reduce carbon emissions.


Hydrogen could be the next big thing in the automotive world. In its pathway to net zero by mid-century, the International Energy Agency projects that hydrogen will account for a full 16% of road transport. Moreover, some industry insiders believe that cars powered by hydrogen, either by combusting it like gasoline or by incorporating it into a fuel cell, could even overtake the prevalence of battery-powered electric vehicles in the coming years. Others think that’s a gross overestimation. But everyone agrees that hydrogen will likely be integral to the future of the transportation sector. 

Hydrogen has been touted as a promising green replacement for gasoline and diesel because, like petroleum-based fossil fuels, hydrogen can be combusted at high heat. But unlike gasoline and diesel, it emits no carbon dioxide when it burns. Instead, it just leaves behind harmless water vapor. That’s why companies have been pouring cash into finding a way to revolutionize the transportation sector – responsible for approximately one quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions at a global level – by replacing traditional fuels with green hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells. 

Last month, Toyota chair Akio Toyoda said he thinks the share of battery cars on the global market will peak at 30%, with the remaining 70% taken up by hydrogen and internal combustion engines. BMW chief executive officer Oliver Zipse is similarly bullish about the technology as one component of a cleaner transportation future. “Hydrogen is the missing piece in the jigsaw when it comes to emission-free mobility,” he said last year before offering the caveat: “One technology on its own will not be enough to enable climate-neutral mobility worldwide.”

There are already a couple of hydrogen-powered cars on the market, both from East Asian automakers – Toyota’s Mirai and the Nexo SUV from Hyundai. However, even Toyota admits that hydrogen-powered cars have “not been successful” so far, largely because sourcing hydrogen remains a key issue, as cited by Toyota technical chief, Hiroki Nakajima in a quote to Autocar in October.

Creating hydrogen is an energy-intensive process, which means that its production is sometimes an inefficient and even counterintuitive use of energy. By some metrics, creating green hydrogen requires three times more electricity than would be needed just to power an electric vehicle directly. Elon Musk, head of leading electric vehicle company Tesla, has called automotive hydrogen technology “fool sells,” dismissing the use of energy to make hydrogen when it could more easily just charge an EV battery.

Most hydrogen used in industrial applications today is ‘gray hydrogen,’ meaning it’s produced by using fossil fuels. Blue hydrogen is produced using natural gas, making it a bit cleaner (depending on who you ask). Green hydrogen is produced using only clean energy supplies, but even that may not be a win for the climate as it is taking up key clean energy resources that may be more efficiently and strategically used in other applications. And then there’s gold hydrogen, the holy grail of naturally occurring hydrogen deposits, which has yet to be successfully developed. Long story short, there's a whole rainbow of hydrogens out there, but none of them offers a silver bullet solution for cleaning up the transportation sector. 

While the jury is out on whether hydrogen-based cars will actually be able to compete with battery-powered ones, and whether they will be able to do so in a way that’s better for the environment, there is one part of the transportation sector that almost everyone agrees could and likely will be revolutionized by hydrogen. And that’s the shipping industry. Big industrial vehicles and ships are some of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide in the sector, and they are also the hardest to electrify. In this application, diverting energy toward making hydrogen would actually make sense in the bottom line, and be a huge win for the environment as the shipping sector is considered to be one of the hardest to clean up. 

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com 


More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • Johnhenscheid on February 16 2024 said:
    Anything can compete with Ev’s because Ev’s are junk! Horse and buggy is better than Ev’s!!!
  • Joshua Lee on February 27 2024 said:
    The article mentions all these ridiculous methods of obtaining hydrogen and not one mention of electrolysis.. Simple oceanic salt (or fresh) water + DC Voltage = H2 & O, The anode & cathode can be in separate chambers and the hydrogen can be bottled from there. If one needs any lessons on how to get the "free" electricity from the sun to perform such processes there's always google...

Leave a comment

EXXON Mobil -0.35
Open57.81 Trading Vol.6.96M Previous Vol.241.7B
BUY 57.15
Sell 57.00
Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News