Battery EVs Over Hydrogen says Federal Report

A group of four federal agencies published a report on a national framework for decarbonizing the transportation industry.

It also carefully makes the case for electric battery vehicles—not hydrogen fuel cells—to lead what is known as the light-duty sector, including the cars and trucks most of us drive, while employing the diplomatic language typical of government documents wary of being seen to favor one technology over another.

The document takes a number of other positions as well. Additionally, it sees a significant role for hydrogen in the long-haul trucking industry, where battery power is impractical due to vehicle size, weight, and use case.

According to Tom Stephenson, chairman of Pajarito Powder, a company that manufactures catalysts for fuel cells, “A wonderful way for hydrogen to get started in the American transportation sector is through long-distance trucking. My key takeaway from the new U.S. National Blueprint is that the federal government has a strong understanding that hydrogen and batteries are necessary for decarbonizing transportation. And is used, not or.”

The strategy believes that batteries represent “the biggest long-term opportunity” for the light-duty sector, which is responsible for 49% of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. Even in the accompanying chart for that industry, hydrogen is not represented.

Although it recently expanded its commitment to batteries, Toyota has been the strongest proponent of hydrogen-powered vehicles. We absolutely are not about to give up on hydrogen electric fuel-cell technology, Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told Reuters.

The paper suggests installing 500,000 EV chargers and selling 50% of zero-emission vehicles by 2030. “As efficient as feasible” should be the goal for the remaining internal combustion cars. Additionally, it mandates that 100% of medium- and heavy-duty truck sales (including battery EVs and hydrogen) will be zero emission by 2040, accounting for 21% of greenhouse gas production. By 2035, all new trucks purchased by the federal government should be emission-free.

The survey noted that light-duty vehicles and trucks make up more than 75% of vehicle miles driven in the U.S. And increasingly they are battery-powered, making up 18% of all vehicle sales in California for the first half of 2022 (and 4.5% nationally, with sales doubling to more than half a million in 2021).

Globally, the figure is nine percent, and an astonishing 80% in Norway. “EVs are currently cheaper to drive than gasoline vehicles,” the research states, noting a 90% drop in battery costs in the 10 years ending in 2020. Electricity costs, it noted, “have not climbed as much as petroleum fuel costs and do not undergo the same huge price swings.”

Some 100 EVs are on the market or soon to be, the research stated, and larger SUVs and pickups are part of the mix. These latter versions include the Ford F-150 Lightning, the electric Chevrolet Silverado, and the Hummer EV pickup.

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