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  Battle between hydrogen car and battery drive

Battle between hydrogen car and battery drive

REUTERS
Published : Oct 29, 2015, 10:56 pm IST
Updated : Oct 29, 2015, 10:56 pm IST

Asia’s two autos powerhouses, Japan and China, are jostling for supremacy in how future electric cars should generate their power — from batteries or hydrogen-powered fuel-cells.

Fuel Car.jpg
 Fuel Car.jpg

Asia’s two autos powerhouses, Japan and China, are jostling for supremacy in how future electric cars should generate their power — from batteries or hydrogen-powered fuel-cells.

In a potentially high-stakes clash reminiscent of Sony versus Panasonic in the Beta-VHS video war in the 1980s, the winner could enjoy years of domination if their technology is adopted as a global standard by other manufacturers.

 

This time, though, there should be a place in the autos market for both electric battery and hydrogen fuel-cell cars. The key question is which will power more mainstream cars — the market dominated today by the likes of Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen.

“We’re reaching a crossroads,” says James Chao, Shanghai-based Asia-Pacific managing director for industry consultant IHS Automotive. “It’s difficult to exaggerate the significance of the choice between batteries and hydrogen.

“Billions of dollars will be invested in one or the other and may determine which companies will lead the industry through the end of this century.”

China, a major oil importer and blighted by air pollution, is pushing for all-electric (EV) cars, offering incentives to buyers, forcing global automakers to share their technology, and opening its market to tech firms and others to produce electric vehicles.

 

For a decade, Beijing has pushed for the EV to become a mass-market car, hoping a low entry barrier will allow its relative late comers to close a competitive gap with global rivals who have a century’s head-start in traditional combustion engines. “(China Preside-nt) Xi Jinping explained it very well, saying that developing new energy vehicles is the Chinese auto industry’s only road to grow from being big to being strong,” Xu Heyi, chairman of Beijing Automotive Group and a high-ranking Communist Party official, told reporters.

Japan, though, sees the future differently and is investing heavily in fuel-cell technology and infrastructure as part of a national policy to foster what it calls a “hydrogen society”, where the zero-emission fuel would power homes and vehicles.

 

Location: United States, Michigan, Detroit