Is Hydrogen the Future of Auto Transport?
Five automakers have formed an alliance with major energy companies. Their plan is to invest upwards of $10.7 billion in hydrogen-related products within five years.
Does this mean that hydrogen is the future of auto transport?
It might. Toyota, BMW, Daimler AG, Honda and Hyundai are working with major oil and gas giants, including Dutch Royal Shell and Total SA, to invest in hydrogen-related products and ventures.
Currently, many of the technological advances in auto shipping services have been electric-based. And we’ve discussed that in other blog posts. But hydrogen might also be in the mix after some time on the sidelines.
How would hydrogen be the future of auto transport?
Hydrogen fuel cells have been around for a while, but they’ve yet to overthrow diesel as the fuel for auto shippers. Part of this has been because of technological limitations, which this new accord is hoping to fix. Toyota, for instance, is looking at reducing carbon emissions of its vehicles by 90% by 2050. This is a plan that has been in place for a while, now.
And it’s showing. Toyota has been at the forefront of hybrid vehicles, notably with its Prius. Other companies such as Nissan and Chevrolet have had full-electric vehicles on the road since 2009. But auto shippers haven’t really seen any benefits of hydrogen over traditional diesel fuel.
That being said, hydrogen may be the way to go for long-haul companies. For a long-distance trucker, full-electric drivetrains just aren’t feasible right now. Most electric cars can only go a couple hundred miles at most before requiring a recharge. Hydrogen fuel cells, on the other hand, basically cuts fuel consumption in half. Right now a typical long-haul truck gets, on average, about 5-6 miles per gallon of diesel fuel. That’s not great. And most long-haul auto transportation trucks have a fuel capacity of about 300 gallons. So a carrier can travel about 1500 miles on a single tank.
That’s not bad, but auto shippers are always on the road, and many travel over 3,000 miles in a single week! Using hydrogen fuel cells could cut their fuel costs down considerably, which would likely result in cheaper auto shipping prices for you.
Hydrogen vs. full-electric
Right now, electric cars are becoming standard fare for personal transportation. It makes sense – most people commute less than 40 miles per day and it’s convenient to be able to charge your car at home or work. But for a long-haul car shipping carrier, having to stop every couple hundred miles – even if it were 500 or more – simply isn’t cost-effective. But hydrogen fuel cells improve fuel efficiency and allow carriers to stay on the road longer while also reducing emissions.
Hydrogen fuel cells produce heat and water as byproducts, and that’s it. Captive systems can repurpose the heat generated to produce yet more energy and power a vehicle for longer. So that’s a huge plus. Car transport companies could travel further with hydrogen than with full-electric.
Now, this is only proposed, but the investments by those major auto companies and energy companies is a step in the right direction. Is hydrogen the future of auto transport? Possibly. Likely. Probably more so than full-electric drivetrains, that’s for sure. But we’ll see, and we at American Auto Shipping will keep you updated.