Volkswagen: hydrogen belongs in steel, not cars

The chairman of Volkswagen says hydrogen belongs in heavy industry like steel – not personal vehicles, Kallanish learns from statements he made on Twitter. 

Herbert Diess responded on the platform to a press release by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association calling for 1 million new charging stations by 2024. 

“It’s time for politicians to accept science: Green hydrogen is needed for steel, chemical, aero…[sic] and should not end up in cars. Far too expensive, inefficient, slow and difficult to rollout and transport. After all: no #hydrogen cars in sight,” he writes. 

A split appears to be emerging in the zero-emission sector between proponents of battery electric vehicles and those that rely on hydrogen fuel cells. A rough analogue can be made between batteries and hydrogen and gasoline and diesel fuel. Small, personal transports appear to be more efficient when powered by batteries, while heavy, long-range transports – buses, ships, and trucks – appear to be more efficient when powered by hydrogen. 

Charging time is the big knock against battery vehicles; hydrogen vehicles could be fueled much as existing internal combustion vehicles are, via a retail station. However, proponents of battery vehicles point out that home charging is likely to be the norm and doesn’t require much in the way of new public infrastructure – though fast-charging stations will still need to be put in place. 

Hydrogen is gaining increased acceptance in the steel sphere as a potential route to fossil-free production. SSAB is at the forefront of hydrogen-based steelmaking, with a pilot plant already in operation.