Batteries vs Hydrogen

Batteries vs Hydrogen in Electric Vehicles

Hydrogen electric vehicles vs battery electric vehicles... I have heard this debate many times and I finally got around to write about it and share my thoughts.

My TL;DR is that while I believe both are promising technologies, my research has led me to conclude that battery electric vehicles are not only a superior experience today but also have a much more promising future.

Proponents of hydrogen electric vehicles point to the fact that hydrogen electric vehicles have the capacity for higher energy density than current battery electric vehicles, and thus will be able to outcompete battery electric vehicles on range and cost of transport.

And while it is true that hydrogen has energy density advantages over the current generation of batteries, this fact doesn't tell the whole story.

First, battery electric vehicles have lower costs associated with them and are much more straightforward to deploy than hydrogen electric vehicles. See these videos on Hydrogen by Real Engineering (opens in a new tab), Sabine Hossenfelder (opens in a new tab), and Matt Ferrell (opens in a new tab) that spell out many of the issues with hydrogen electrics.

Second, battery electric vehicles have the potential to incorporate higher density battery technologies, which have the potential to significantly improve their range and cost. See these videos on Solid State Batteries (opens in a new tab) and Liquid Metal Batteries (opens in a new tab) by Matt Ferrell. Beyond these two types of batteries, there are also next-generation lithium ion batteries, lithium sulfur batteries, and niobium batteries, all of which promise to increase range and decrease cost relative to current lithium ion batteries.

Overall, the reality is that (1) in today's world, battery electric vehicles deliver a much better value proposition than hydrogen electric vehicles, and (2) while there's capacity for hydrogen electric vehicles to improve, there's also capacity for battery electric vehicles to improve, and the potential improvements to battery-centric systems look much more promising on the whole.