Electric Vehicles vs Hydrogen Vehicles

In this article, we will explore electric vs hydrogen vehicles. With electric vehicles (EVs) becoming increasingly popular due to their green characteristics, it’s hard to imagine a future in which we aren’t all driving around in a battery-powered motor, but this is just one of the many technologies challenging our traditional ways. In addition to electric vehicles, hydrogen technology is on the rise, with hydrogen vehicles now being another, alternative solution to the end of the combustion era as we look to a greener future. But, which of these technologies will come out on top?

Electric Vehicles: Overview and Advantages

EVs are powered by rechargeable batteries. Depending on the battery’s capacity, EVs can run anywhere between 150 and 450 miles from one charge, with no tailpipe emissions. EVs are quickly gaining in popularity and are set to make up for most new car sales by 2030.

Here are some of the significant advantages of EVs which are prevalent with customers looking for a more efficient and green option when shopping for new cars.

Advantages of Electric Vehicles

  • EVs are far more energy efficient than conventional cars. When charging an EV’s battery, more energy is put towards powering the vehicle than it would when filling up a traditional petrol/diesel-powered vehicle
  • EVs do not create any tailpipe emissions as they rely on rechargeable batteries. This is of increasing importance to the world, but especially to those who are more climate-focused, and in the market for a new car
  • EVs are also high-performance vehicles whose motors are not only quiet and smooth but require less maintenance than internal combustion engines

Hydrogen Vehicles: Overview and Advantages

A hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle uses dihydrogen (H2) as fuel. The fuel cell is supplied with this hydrogen, and oxygen from the surrounding air. These gases, upon contact inside the fuel cell, provoke an electrochemical reaction which produces an electric current, heat and water vapour. This electric current is then used to power an electric motor which then propels the vehicle.

So how are they different from EVs? Hydrogen vehicles offer consumers the more traditional ‘filling up’ scenario rather than having to find a charging point. HVs are still climate conscious and are an alternative to the conventional car we already know so well.

Advantages of Hydrogen Vehicles (HV):

  • HVs are zero emission. The only thing an HV emits is water vapour (they produce neither atmospheric emissions of CO2 nor pollutants)
  • HVs only take three to five minutes to fill, making this a significant advantage on typical EV charging times
  • HVs typically have a similar range to conventional cars
Hydrogen Vehicle

Hydrogen Vehicle

Electric vs Hydrogen Vehicles

Electric vs Hydrogen – Carbon Emissions/Environmental Impact

While the process of driving an EV does release zero carbon emissions, the other stages of the car’s lifespan do not. The manufacturing of an EV is more carbon emissive than regular gas-powered cars, and the process of degradation at the end of its life also has an adverse environmental impact.

Similarly, with HV, whilst they will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases whilst being driven, the process of hydrogen generation from fossil fuels also results in the emission of greenhouse gases.

Whilst these elements are not to be ignored, it could be argued that the long-term impact of less conventional cars on the road added to the zero carbon emissions being expelled from both EVs and HVs is likely to have the bigger effect and a more positive one.

Electric vs Hydrogen – Range & Refuelling

The range of EVs varies from anywhere from 150 miles to 450 miles. The more expensive the EV, the more power is generally generated from the EV battery, allowing for a higher range. The average range of an EV is less than 200 miles, whereas the average range of HVs sits at the 300 mark – making HVs the better option if range anxiety is a concern.

EVs are ‘refuelled’ via charging points to the battery. This can typically take anywhere between four and eight hours. HVs on the other hand are refuelled via traditional fuelling stations within minutes. This is a clear advantage for the HV, however, that doesn’t mean it does not come with its drawbacks.

HVs are relatively new to the market, meaning that HV fuelling stations are not necessarily readily available in the same way conventional fuel is or in the same way charging stations are becoming. In addition to this, hydrogen fuel is also expensive – much more expensive than conventional fuels such as petrol or diesel, and it could be argued more expensive than charging an EV over the course of a year (which can be anywhere between £750 and £1,150 a year).

Electric vs Hydrogen – Market Maturity

When we consider market maturity, there is no competition. Electric vehicles have taken the world by storm and are set to account for more the 60% of vehicles sold by 2030, whereas hydrogen vehicles are currently only used for professional fleets. This is down to varying factors, the most prominent being that these technologies are at varying stages of development. Electric vehicle technology has been on the radar for a while, with mass production dating back to the 90s, whereas hydrogen vehicles didn’t reach this level until 2010.

Electric vs Hydrogen – Summary

Overall, there are many pros and cons to both EVs and HVs, however, it is safe to say that if everyone switched to either an EV or an HV, the impact on our planet would only be positive.

of EVs
of EVs
of HVs
of HVs
More energy efficient than conventional cars.The range of EV’s is nowhere near that of either a conventional fuel car or a HVCompletely zero emissionsTend to be more expensive than both conventional cars and EVs
Do not create any tailpipe emissions as they rely on rechargeable batteries.Can take a long time to chargeQuick fill time of three to five minutesWith HV being a relatively new addition to the market, it may be difficult to find a fuelling station that provides hydrogen
High-performance vehicles whose motors are not only quiet and smooth but require less maintenance than internal combustion enginesTend to be very expensiveSimilar range to conventional carsFuel is higher in price than conventional fuels like petrol and diesel