You Probably Won’t Drive a Hydrogen Volkswagen: Here’s Why

Unlike some manufacturers like Toyota or Hyundai, Volkswagen has absolutely no interest in hydrogen for its passenger cars. On the other hand, the German brand does not completely close the door on this machine, but only for a very specific use.

Right now

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Thermal cars haven’t really had wind in their sails in recent years, and it’s not going to get any better. In addition to increasingly strict traffic restrictions, including ZFEs in particular, internal combustion engines will be banned from sale from 2035 across the European Union. Manufacturers therefore have no choice but to adapt and look for alternatives.

Volkswagen doesn’t like it

While some have decided to go all-electric, like Volvo, Alpine or even Peugeot, others are more measured. In particular, we think of Porsche and Lamborghini, which are also betting on the development of synthetic fuel, which is considered cleaner but in reality is not always so. Others prefer to turn to hydrogen.

This is particularly the case of Toyota with its Mirai, launched in 2015 and renewed in 2020 with a second generation. But we also think of Hyundai, which has been marketing its Nexo since 2018. Unveiled at CES in Las Vegas the same year, it replaced the ix35 Fuel Cell. To date, these are the only two production models currently in circulation equipped with this engine.

Toyota Mirai

Combines the advantages of electric and thermal thanks to a recharge in less than three minutes, hydrogen has many advantages on paper. But not for everyone. Because if there’s one brand that struggles to believe this, it’s undoubtedly Volkswagen. Asked by the Spanish version of the site Autobild, Thomas Schäfer (the CEO of the Volkswagen brand, and not of the group), expressed his lack of confidence in this alternative. And this while the brand filed a patent at the beginning of last year for a car that uses this technology.

And he didn’t exaggerate, just explained that”hydrogen is not for us“. However, he elaborated his point, saying that this alternative, “pure physics and expensive. It is not competitive, especially not for passenger carsits tanks take up space in the passenger compartment“. Suffice to say we shouldn’t be seeing a hydrogen car in Volkswagen’s lineup anytime soon.

Except in some cases

However, the leader does not completely close the door on this motorization: however, he affirms it it may have a place in utility vehicles. For now, the company prefers to focus on electrics, when it already offers a well-built range with its ID.3, ID.4, ID.5 and ID. Buzz and it recently formalized its ID.7 during CES in Las Vegas.

Thus, Volkswagen’s view is in contrast to many other manufacturers, such as BMW or Alpine, who really believe in the future of hydrogen. The propeller firm announced in September the production of a small series of its iX5 SUV with a fuel cell. The Dieppe company lifted the veil at the Paris Motor Show in October with its Alpenglow concept.

We also think of Hopium with its Machina, as well as the NamX HUV, which will also be present at the Paris show. However, if this motorization has many advantages on paper, in reality it will not be as virtuous as we think for the planet. In any case, this was revealed by an American study published last August, which explains that A hydrogen leak would be particularly harmful to the environment.

In addition, this type of engine will have a very low efficiency, only 10 to 30% against 60 to 80% for an electric vehicle. Not to mention the difficulty related to establishing a network of charging stations, as France struggles to achieve the goal of electric charging stations.

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