But ultimately fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV) are thought to have a huge future, with one forecast saying there will be 10 million of them on the world’s roads by 2030, with 10,000 refuelling stations worldwide. That is in great contrast to today when there are only a couple of FCEVs currently on sale in the UK, from Toyota and long-time hydrogen champions Hyundai, and only a smattering of hydrogen filling stations, which largely exist to meet the need of commercial vehicles and buses.
Advantages of making electricity by electrolysis include high energy density, rapid refuelling potentially using the current filling station network, and most important for drivers, longer range. There is also nothing to plug in. All you have to do is occasionally top up with hydrogen (under very high pressure) so the cell can go on generating electricity to power the motors. Excess power is stored in batteries – but crucially far fewer of them than a plug-in electric vehicle needs. This is in turn should allow designers to make cars that are smaller and lighter.