When Was the First Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Introduced?
Using alternative energy to fuel cars and trucks may seem like a recent innovation as the world focuses on “green” initiatives, but hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have a sizeable history in the United States. Thanks to the great space race of the 1960s, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were invented as part of a trend towards achieving technological innovation in all aspects of our lives.
In 1962, Seattle hosted the World’s Fair with a space-age flair, unveiling the Space Needle for visitors to enjoy. Visitors to the fair were also invited to ride the monorail, another futuristic transportation system that planners thought may replace busses in trains in the future. What you might not know about 1962 is that this is the same year “The Jetson’s” premiered, giving viewers of all ages a visual prediction for what the year 2062 would be like.
During this same timeframe, car engineers were working away at developing a vehicle that would use a new type of fuel, liquid hydrogen, and oxygen. In 1966, General Motors shared their new invention: the Electrovan. The Electrovan is considered by most automobile fanatics to be the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. This model was inspired by fuel cell engines that supplied power for vehicles in the 1960’s moon missions.
Researchers hoped to use this space-age technology to create a vehicle that would operate as effectively and powerfully as its combustion engine peers. On the exterior, the Electrovan resembled other typical 1960s van models. One look at the inside revealed a novel new way to create power.
The Electrovan used pressurized tanks of liquid hydrogen and oxygen, which at the time were reportedly much more expensive than gasoline. While the van could drive about 150 miles on a tank of fuel and produced continuous output of 32 kilowatts and a peak of 160 kilowatts, the comparable performance could not transcend the higher fuel cost.
See a short promotional video about the Electrovan from 1966 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGyLD6ufwLo
Today, hydrogen-powered vehicles are a reality.
We didn’t have to wait until 2062 to realize the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. For decades, hydrogen has successfully provided fuel for municipal fleets, including buses, utility vehicles, and waste removal trucks. These fleets are cleaner to operate, easier to maintain, and emit no harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are also proving to be highly competitive for providing the power and efficiency long-haul truckers need for their big rigs.
What’s creating the transformation?
Three significant forces are transforming the transportation industry and making hydrogen fuel cell vehicles a viable alternative energy solution:
- Vehicle availability. The automotive industry has continued to improve the technology to create vehicles with comparable power that drivers can refuel in minutes. As demand grows, manufacturers are fulfilling orders for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
- Cost. The cost of hydrogen fuel has decreased substantially. While the cost varies significantly depending on how it is manufactured and whether or not it must be transported, Andretti Group/PowerTap Hydrogen’s fueling system allows gas stations to manufacturing hydrogen fuel on-site to meet customer demand at under $2 per kilogram.
- Fuel availability. Consumers can find hydrogen fuel at more locations. While nearly all of the 48 hydrogen refueling stations are currently in California, there’s a coordinated movement to expand fueling stations throughout the west to accommodate long haul trucking needs better and begin the revolution towards consumer use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in neighboring states. PowerTap Hydrogen allows fuel station owners to diversify their products and provide hydrogen fuel with reasonable capital investment and less than 1,000 square feet of space.
Are you ready to be a part of an innovative technology movement?
There’s never been a better time to join the hydrogen fuel movement. This alternative energy solution is what our communities need to provide powerful driving capacity over long distances. Our patented technology allows you to diversify your current product offering without surplus inventory and waste. Andretti Group Power Tap Hydrogen units manufacture hydrogen fuel using only city water, electricity, and natural gas–all within less than 1,000 square feet. Produce the power you need when you need it to meet your customers’ demands. Contact us today to learn more about PowerTap Hydrogen