Fuel Cells

Building Up a Head of Steam

Coming soon to a gas station near you? Source: Laif/Thomas Ernsting
Coming soon to a gas station near you?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Hydrogen fuel cell technology is expensive and not yet perfected, but as investment picks up it could one day be a reliable and plentiful alternative to gasoline and electricity powered cars.

  • Facts


    • Daimler and Linde are investing €10 million each to build 20 new hydrogen fueling stations in Germany by the end of the year.
    • Daimler and Toyota are planning to bring large numbers of fuel cell cars onto the market within the next three years.
    • The fuel cell systems cost about €40,000 per vehicle.
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More than 800 kilometers (500 miles) on one tank of hydrogen? Vehicles using fuel-cell technology promise ranges far beyond normal electric cars, including BMW’s fancy new i3 model, while emitting nothing but water.

And while an e-car must spend hours charging, a hydrogen tank is filled in just a few minutes.

But there’s a catch: Currently there are only 16 public hydrogen fueling stations in Germany.

Carmaker Daimler and industrial gas specialist Linde are now determined to change that. The two firms are each investing €10 million ($12.8 million) to build 20 new hydrogen stations by the end of the year.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles, praised in the 1970s and 1980s as an alternative to conventional combustion engines but later forgotten as attention turned to plug-in electric cars, are now experiencing a renaissance.

This is especially the case in the research and development departments of some car manufacturers and raw materials suppliers. And the German federal government is supporting their hydrogen vision. The H2Mobility initiative, which is made up of gas and oil companies and car manufacturers, wants to build 400 hydrogen fueling stations across Germany by 2023.

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