Electric cars are a fine thing on the drive side: strong torque is instantaneous, the efficiency of an electric motor is high and the noise is quiet. If only there was not the problem with the power storage. Even the best of the lithium-ion batteries of today already available e-cars load for hours and are empty again in no time. Fuel cell vehicles do not have this problem. They generate the electrical power required for the drive engine on board - the energy carrier is called hydrogen. A common way to produce hydrogen is electrolysis - which in turn requires electricity.
Hydrogen acts simply as power storage. Once it is generated using energy, it can get into the vehicle quickly, which is a drastic advantage over battery electric cars. Just go to a hydrogen filling station and fill up the car. But you are already at the next problem.
2016 hydrogen stations will be built in Germany by the year 50 - currently there are only 15. Who happens to live near such a gas station, is lucky. So a hydrogen vehicle is currently only regional usable. According to Werner Diwald of the Alliance for Wind Hydrogen, 2022 is hoping that customers will be able to replenish hydrogen at some 400 stations. And the nice thing about it is that the fuel is mainly produced from renewable energies - so at least the announcement.
The pleasant side effect of hydrogen production is that you can react quickly to "wind peaks" with the electrolysis plants. In the future, therefore, it would be possible to absorb the overproduction of electricity caused by sudden storms in the form of hydrogen production. While conventional forms of storage such as batteries can not absorb large amounts of electricity, electrolysis can be quickly increased.
Currently, the vehicle range is even thinner than the gas station network. Of the Toyota Mirai, which customers can actually buy from September, is one of the first offers on the market together with the Hyundai ix35. However, the competitors are not sleeping either, numerous manufacturers will follow suit, whether they are Audi, Honda or Mercedes. Some brands apparently want to wait until an infrastructure is in place so that customers do not get a product that is difficult to use in practice.
With a price of 78.580 Euro, the futuristic designed Toyota sedan is clearly a prestige object and not a model that is bought from an economic point of view. After all, it is a lighthouse project designed to demonstrate technical feasibility.
After a first seat rehearsal Mirai can certify a passenger compartment that is quite suitable for everyday use with well-processed materials. The 4,89 meter long four-door is powered by a 113 kW / 158 PS powerful electric power unit. He drives up to 178 km / h fast. Optional extras are not available for the 1,9 ton heavy vehicle - but comfort features are obviously not lacking. For example, in addition to Toyota's usual matter of course, there is also a steering wheel heater. It goes without saying that entry-level and infotainment systems are on board. But the nicest extra for many customers may be the feeling of sitting in a rather exclusive car and being one of the first to drive the future.
The responsible persons expect in the next years rather with a two-digit instead of three-digit sales. But who knows, maybe even with the number of gas stations also rapidly increase the numbers of cars. The industry may still be able to work on the prices, because just under 80.000 euros for a mid-range car with less than 160 horses under the hood, the common customer is unlikely to pay much later. And certainly not if the kilogram of hydrogen costs around ten euros, which the pure fuel costs for the hydrogen Stromer are not significantly lower than those economical diesel models.
Author: Patrick Broich / SP-X