How Clean Are Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles?

Published Oct 9, 2014


In June 2014, Hyundai became the first automaker to offer a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in the United States. Other automakers are expected to launch their own models in the coming years.

Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen gas to power an electric motor. Like other all-electric cars and trucks, they produce zero harmful tailpipe emissions. However, the manner by which hydrogen fuel is made and delivered can affect how clean hydrogen fuel cell vehicles truly are.

Even when the fuel comes from one of the dirtiest sources of hydrogen, natural gas, today’s early FCEVs can cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 30 percent when compared with their gasoline-powered counterparts. Under California’s renewable hydrogen requirements, reductions are over 50 percent. Future fuel cell vehicles will likely be even cleaner.

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