The Wall Street Journal reported this week that executives from General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., at the Geneva Auto Show Tuesday, "expressed doubts about the viability of hydrogen fuel cells for mass-market production in the near term and suggested their companies are now betting that electric cars will prove to be a better way to reduce fuel consumption and cut tailpipe emissions on a large scale."
Both GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz and Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe expressed strong opinions that fuel cells are too expensive and will be for some time and that advances in lithium-ion batteries make them much more practical as a mass-market product. . . . read the WSJ article
in a somewhat related post, the MIT Technology Review has a little more information on GM's BAS+ mild hybrid system that further explains how the Hitachi Li-ion batteries fit in with that system that increase the mileage by 20% and indicates that GM will use about 100,000 of these batteries annually by 2010.
The new battery pack, a lithium-ion pack made by Hitachi, combined with an improved alternator-generator, can deliver three times more power than the company's older system, which used nickel metal hydride batteries. GM claims that this system will be a perfect complement to another fuel-saving strategy: downsizing the engine and adding a turbocharger for bursts of power. The turbocharger doesn't kick in right away, and it doesn't work well at low engine speeds. But the battery and motor kick in right away, compensating for the so-called turbo lag.
That is quite a change in attitude, considering the large amounts of money that these companies and others have spent developing fuel cells for light vehicles. This agrees with my assessment of the technology that I have expressed several times, most recently in my comments on my post EU Research Shows that Hydrogen Energy Could Reduce Oil Consumption in Road Transport by 40% by 2050.
Could the use of Hitachi batteries in their mild hybrids mean that they might not use A123Sytems batteries in the Volt or the Saturn hybrid? I don't think so, but does Hitachi have a better battery or is it just more available in the required time frame or is it just a means of diversifying suppliers.