Which came first? Hydrogen fuel-cell cars or hydrogen filling stations? The answer depends on who you ask. General Motors yesterday called for a "collective resolve" to address the problem of infrastructure to support fuel-cell powered cars. Speaking at the National Hydrogen Association's annual meeting, GM's R&D honcho Larry Burns said that the situation with regard to fuel-cell cars had "now reached a point where the energy industry and governments must pick up their pace so we can continue to advance in a timely manner."
The other problem--which Burns failed to mention-- is the lack of actual vehicles to make use of said infrastructure. While GM and Honda have committed to putting a handful of fuel-cell vehicles on the road this year, it hardly constitutes justification for the $12 billion investment that GM and Shell anticipate it will cost to bring hydrogen access to 70 percent of the U.S. population. And without the economies of scale that comes from mass production, hydrogen cars such as the Honda Clarity and the Chevy Equinox continue to be expensive showpieces. Expect the holdups on the hydrogen highway to continue as the automakers, energy companies, and the public sector work out who is going to come up with the necessary investment for making the technology a widespread reality.