Kenworth, Toyota, UPS and other major trucking and transport names have launched high-profile hydrogen fuel cell projects in recent weeks. Buzzy start-ups are pledging ambitious rollouts.
But despite the pedigrees of the companies and the millions of dollars going into development and testing, many industry experts are skeptical about the business case for fuel cell technology — especially for large, long-haul vehicles.
“We’re all looking at the same technologies,” said Steve Gilligan, vice president of product and vocational marketing for Navistar’s North American business unit. “It’s a very uncertain road right now. It’s not certain in 10 years where we’ll be.”
Fuel cell vehicles — also known as FCVs — use hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity. There’s no combustion, and the only tailpipe emissions are heat and water.
Every state has hydrogen production pipelines that could likely be expanded to accommodate vehicle fueling, said Joel Rinebold, director of energy initiatives for the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc.