Publication Detail

Fuel Cell Powered Vehicles: Big Business, Fast Cars, and Clean Air, Counts



The year is 2010 and on this exciting day you and your spouse are going to buy two new vehicles. One of you wants a large, 4WD SUV for access to skiing, hiking, and mountain biking. The other wants a high-powered, sports car convertible — all the pleasures that a pair of vehicles could provide. On your way to the car dealership, you are both thinking about the fun you will have in your new cars, the places you will go, and the looks on people's faces when they see you drive by in style. You are both as concerned about the environment as the next person, but these purchases are about enjoying your hard-earned money — you're not trying to save the world. After an hour of browsing, it comes down to one decision. The dealer offers you a simple choice — for the same price, options, performance and convenience of operation, did you want those vehicles to have the standard, polluting engines or would you like them to be zero-emission vehicles? And, by the way, the "engine" on the zero-emission choice is quieter and will require less maintenance. Well, putting it that way, if we can have the same, or even a better car, and save the world, then our automotive and environmental needs could actually be complementary instead of conflicting.

The best part of this vision of the future is that the technology to make this story a reality is already here — it's called a fuel cell powered vehicle (FCV). The FCV is the technological solution that will allow people to meet both their automotive and environmental needs all at once — no conflict of values, no extra cost, no inconvenience, and with all the fun, glamor, and clean skies you can imagine. What is more, not only is this new, too-good-to-be-true technology here today, but major auto makers like Mercedes, Chrysler, Ford, GM and Toyota all plan to start selling FCVs by 2004. Fuel cell powered vehicles are not science fiction; they are big business, and their introduction is just around the corner.
Published in Technology, Humans and Society – Toward a Sustainable World, chapter 22.3