However, this development hinges upon wide-spread availability of hydrogen fuel.
BMW sold H2 internal combustion cars for about 3 years. Refueling was a significant issue. Range was as well since H2 is not very energy dense.
Toyota currently sells the Mirai H2 powered fuel cell electric car. But THIS would be way more fun…
But it ALL hinges on hydrogen refueling stations. There is a similar “dirty little secret” to H2 as there is to coal powered Teslas. 90+% of H2 comes from natural gas.
There’s no need for exotic fuels or exotic engine designs. Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, we had very efficient economy cars with no VVT, only one catalytic converter, rudimentary computer controls, and poor aerodynamics compared to today’s standards. If it was possible to build a Honda Civic that got over 40 MPG in real-world driving, a Geo Metro that got over 45 MPG in real-world driving, etc, then surely it should be possible to build an economical car today with a small 3-cylinder or 4-cylinder engine which can achieve 45-50 MPG in real-world driving.
If we can convince people to give up their trucks and SUVs and replace them with something comparable to the current Mitsubishi Mirage, then we should be able to continue using gasoline-powered engines and still meet our pollution/climate goals–without bankrupting the country, or imposing hardship on families.
That was tried without success. It was called the Smart Car. Tiny 2 seat car. Eh fuel economy because it was equipped with all the required safety systems a modern car must have. They all add weight.
The 3 cylinder Metro is a beer can with an engine that cannnot come close to meeting 2022 safety standards, carry the required backup cameras, ABS, and all the rest and still get 45 mpg.
The Civix CRX was a great car. But it too did not last all that long in the market and has the same problema with regulations.
Few people bought these cars. Fewer still would buy them today. You can’t force people into vehicles they don’t want to buy.
Time makes history seem better than it was.
The Smart Car was overpriced . I was actually looking to buy one until I found out the price . That said there is a person here in our small town that bought one of the first ones to hit our area . He still has it and has had very few problems but also admits that the fuel mileage is a little disappointing .
I rented a 2019 1.4 L gas turbo VW Jetta for a month, got 40 mpg average and GREAT performance. So it can be done.
I forgot the failed attempts of companies to skirt the car safety regs and equipment by trying to create 3 wheel vehicles classed as motorcycles.
Corbin Sparrow, Aptera, Elio and the infamous Dale all come to mind. Basic 2 seaters, high mpg, simple transportation. All DOA for various reasons.
When the smart car was sold in the US as a grey market vehicle (pre mercedes) it started at $26,000 where it was more of a novelty sold by a specialist dealer. More useful in large cities with tight parking. There was the Scion IQ which could seat more than 2 in a pinch but was still a niche option.
Hydrogen sounds promising but it’s still only an option for residents of Los Angeles or parts of San Francisco. With only a couple stations in between depending on which route you take in between the two.
In addition to the so-called Smart car’s disappointing gas mileage, the fact that its engine requires the use of high-octane gas automatically makes it a not-very-smart car for anyone who is interested in fuel economy.
IC engines can seemingly be made to run on anything that will burn or explode, the most common alternative fuel is LNG/Propane used in limited mobility forklifts and cars like the Morgan sportscar.
The real problem has been is the infrastucture and because every home, factory and office already has electicity, that’s where electricity has the advantage.
Maybe in the future the corner gas station will have Hydrogen facilities but right here, right now I can buy and “home fuel” an all electric Mini with a 100 mile range that will fill 80% of my needs or a Hundai, Tesla, etc. with a 200+ mile range that fits 90% of my needs.
My assuption was that EV’s would begin to substantially IC’s in about 20 years but looking at the current crazy fluctuations in gasoline prices, electric is looking better and better.
Ironic, the push by gas and oil Producers for higher prices is the same push that encourages Consumers to abandon gas and oil for the alternatives.
That was true for the US Smart cars because they used a turbo engine for the US market that required premium fuel. And was only rated 36 mpg.
The European versions with a 1.0 liter NA engine, used regular fuel, did not meet US emissions and got 50 mpg. Far better than the US version.
BUT the NA engine took 12.6 seconds to reach 60 mph. Slower than any passenger vehicle sold in the US today, I’d bet, which is why only the turbo was sold here…and required premium fuel.
… which doesn’t make it very surprising that Mercedes eventually decided to give-up on their efforts to market it in The US. Their last-ditch effort was to try to sell a Smart EV, but that was doomed to failure by its incredibly short range.
As others have correctly pointed out, the Smart car was not a useful vehicle for most people. It was neither cheap to buy nor cheap to own, nor fuel efficient, and was certainly not an economy car. The Mitsubishi Mirage is the only true economy car offered for sale in the U.S. at this time, and I rarely see them on the road.
There have been many Smart cars sold in my area, not to poor people, this is a niche vehicle. The Smart car fuel economy seems to be acceptable;
Smart fortwo; 34 MPG
Scion iQ; 36 MPG
Mitsubishi Mirage; 36 MPG
Subaru Legacy; 18 MPG
Toyota is selling the use Mirai pretty cheap here in CA. The problem is fueling. Not that many stations, long fueling time and if you get there and there are 5 cars ahead of you, you better have a good novel to keep yourself busy. If they expand that, then it is golden. Somehow, probably due to Tesla, we have expanded more electric charging stations but not Hydrogen.
How long does it take to refuel a hydrogen vehicle?
Shouldn’t take any longer than to fill your gas powered cer but the way the hydrogen pumps are set up the flow is much slower when the pumps are busy. If the pump is working at all.
How about baby steps, like convincing the person who commutes to work every day alone in a king size SUV or truck they might use to full capacity 3 times a year to downsize a bit.
That is because of a very sparse dealer network plus the fact that Mitsubishi might not be around for much longer in the US .
Additionally, the creature comforts and performance that most Americans have come to expect in their cars are both sorely lacking in that vehicle. It was designed for Third World consumers, and most Americans do not want such a vehicle.