It’s very difficult to discern exactly what the future holds for the power source for cars.
The way things are currently heading, it seems most likely that hybrid cars will dominate the foreseeable future – with the battery technology improving continually as the electrical component gradually takes over more of the power source from the petrol or diesel.
But this is by no means certain. There are many other competing technologies that could yet gain the upper hand.
All-electric cars remain slightly problematic due to their still relatively limited ranges – though this is improving continually as is the length of time needed to fully recharge the batteries. Nevertheless, it seems likely that the hybrid versions will dominate for the time being – judging by the concept cars being introduced around the globe by the world’s major manufacturers.
The technology which has still to make a really major impact – but still could – is hydrogen fuel cell technology. This is a type of hydrogen-fuelled vehicle which uses a fuel cell to produce electricity, using hydrogen and oxygen from the air and powering its on-board electric motor.
A hydrogen fuel cell works in the same way as a battery, producing electricity capable of running an electric motor. But instead of the need for recharging, the fuel cell can be refilled with hydrogen.
This technology has been around for a while, but is still in its infancy in terms of actual application.
Four years ago, Honda became the first car company to manufacture a hydrogen production car, making 200 Honda FCX Clarity saloon car models, which would be leased to customers. This, in turn, was based on the company’s FCX concept car, of which 34 were made.
The dearth of hydrogen fuelling stations for hydrogen vehicles is the main obstacle to their mass uptake, but this could change if the technology can achieve a critical mass. But there are problems with weight of fuel tanks and critics claim that this is not really a zero emission fuel as hydrogen is produced through the burning of fossil fuels.
Who really knows where the cards will fall here – but at least we’re moving in the right green direction overall.