There’s been a virtual civil war happening in the battle to create the next generation of motor vehicles. The battle is between plug-ins and fuel cells.
You may have heard more about about plug-ins thanks to Tesla, which has single handedly revived the market for a technology that was otherwise going nowhere. Tesla’s foe — and indeed, that is how Elon Musk regards the technology — is fuel-cell vehicles, which run on hydrogen.
Fuel-cell vehicles have seen their own recent jolt thanks to more established automakers like Toyota, which just got a major boost from the Japanese government in the form of fuel-cell vehicle subsidies. At least three other major automakers plan to release FCVs in the near future.
Tesla is enjoying lots of momentum — its shares are up about 50% this year — and the company has embarked on an unprecedented capex odyssey to double the world’s supply of lithium ion batteries and expand its charging networks. Can they really be derailed by fuel cells? Or could the two technologies even learn to get along someday?
Let’s back up for a moment.