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Hydrogen vs. Electric Cars: Which Is Better?

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With electric cars being favored in news as the fast-approaching car of the future, it’s easy to forget about cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Now that electric cars have such a bright future with the introduction of long-lasting batteries and ranges of 300 miles, what will happen to the hydrogen cars?

They’ll coexist, apparently. Both alternative fuels — though we hope they become the standard soon — give off zero emissions. The batteries in electric cars don’t produce anything, and hydrogen engines only drip out some water from the combination of hydrogen and oxygen.

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Electric cars are still lacking when it comes to charge times. Refueling a combustion engine can take five minutes, while charging an EV can take hours. This isn’t as big of a problem in more urban areas where charging stations are becoming more common and there are plenty of outlets to plug into, allowing your car to recharge while you grocery shop. Charging stations aren’t common enough outside of states like California to be convenient, though.

Hydrogen vehicles, on the other hand, take minutes to refill the tank, like combustion engines, and in a similar way to gas pumps. But hydrogen stations are even more rare than electric ones, which creates a paradox in the industry. Companies will only make more hydrogen stations when there’s a stable market of hydrogen cars, but auto manufacturers will only sell more hydrogen cars when there’s enough demand and fuel stations.

Even Canada — where the fuel cell was invented — doesn’t have many hydrogen stations, and zero hydrogen cars were sold in 2017 in that country. A lack of government support in Canada cut the hydrogen sector’s legs out from under it, and it’s had a hard time getting back into the mainstream market since then.

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Hydrogen fuel will require less remodeling of the way we currently fuel cars, which ultimately makes them better suited as the staple car of the near future. We should throw more weight behind hydrogen fuel cells and give them as much attention as we’re giving electric cars right now. Both will exist in the future, but the more achievable and widespread alternative fuel is likely to be hydrogen.