Fuel cell vehicles coming soon; consumers not informed on EVs

Fuel cell vehicles coming soon; consumers not informed on EVs

Hyundai, Toyota and Honda plan to bring hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to the U.S. by 2015, some with substantial subsidies in addition to the federal and state incentives.

Hyundai showed its fuel-cell Tucson at the Los Angeles Auto Show, when the show opened to the industry and media last week. When production starts early next year, it will be the first mass market, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle sold in the United States. Honda and Toyota plan to introduce fuel-cell vehicles in 2015. Ford, Nissan and Daimler have worked together on a common system and plan to bring forward their models around 2017, reports the Detroit News. Ford is working together with Honda and plans a fuel-cell vehicle in 2020.

The technology may be close, but there are other obstacles: inadequate infrastructure, high cost and tepid public acceptance. There are only 10 public hydrogen fuel stations in the country, nine of them in California. To help address cost, Hyundai will pay fuel and maintenance for the entire duration of a 36 month lease for its fuel-cell Tucson.

Consumers are unaware of the financial advantages of another type of alternative vehicle, plug-in electrics (PEVs), a recent survey shows. The survey, by two Indiana University researchers, indicated that 95 percent of respondents didnt know about state and local subsidies, rebates and other incentives. Indeed, three-quarters were reportedly unaware of the savings in fuel and maintenance costs for PEVs compared with conventional vehicles.

What should be particularly troubling for PEV proponents and manufacturers is that the respondents to our survey live in major urban areas, the places where PEVs make the most sense due to daily travel patterns, said John Graham, a coauthor of the report. The researchers surveyed consumers in 21 cities, not including Washington.

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