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Will Hydrogen Cars Overtake Electric

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  • Hydrogen, hydrogen car, electric car
  • Posted date:
  • 16-03-2022
Will Hydrogen Cars Overtake Electric

This article asks: Will Hydrogen Cars Overtake Electric? We look at how realistic it is to imagine hydrogen powered cars becoming a popular option in the UK.

Battery-electric cars are seen as the future of transportation, replacing vehicles ran on fossil fuels. 

However, hydrogen fuel cell technology and hydrogen cars are still powerful contenders, and their sales numbers are increasing. The question is will hydrogen-powered cars dominate the market?

Do Hydrogen Cars Have A Future?

The UK Government vow to improve renewable electricity and lower harmful emissions into the air by 2030. The UK infrastructure must reduce a minimum of 68% of greenhouse gases compared to a decade ago. A good solution for this across the next few years is the improvement and availability of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

While electric cars are rising in popularity, there are only two mainstream hydrogen powered cars on the UK market. These are the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo. However, Land Rover, BMW and Vauxhall (among other brands) have confirmed the development of hydrogen vehicles, and they will emerge onto the market within the next five-ten years. Honda has experimented with hydrogen cars, and there are rumours their clarity fuel cell vehicles will appear soon. The honda clarity fuel cell is efficient and is an example of a high-profile hydrogen car.


With hydrogen fuel being environmentally friendly and easily accessible, we expect to see a rise in these vehicles as hydrogen production becomes more mainstream.

Are Hydrogen Cars Better Than Electric Cars

Unlike conventional diesel and petrol cars, battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell cars are environmentally friendly. Both feature no internal combustion engine, and the hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity using hydrogen.

Electric motors require their lithium-ion battery to be recharged, taking hours in some models. Hydrogen cars work via the on-board generator, filled up at a hydrogen fuel station in a matter of minutes. The convenience of filling your vehicle at a hydrogen station is the main reason why people would prefer buying one over an electric model.

However, despite hydrogen being the most abundant resource on the planet, the UK is experiencing a lack of filling stations. Car makers and car companies are yet to jump on the opportunity to develop hydrogen cars, and there is a real gap in the market, meaning you have to travel further to fill your hydrogen vehicle.

Toyota Mirai under the hood

Hydrogen Car Refuelling Stations

Despite Government backing and a £23 million fund to provide more hydrogen refuelling stations, there are still staggeringly low numbers. When you do reach a hydrogen filling station, however, you can expect to spend approximately five minutes at the fuel pump.

The average fuel tank in hydrogen power cars is around 5-8kg, and with hydrogen costing £10-£15 per kilo, you can expect to spend around £50-£100 to fill the tank completely

As of this article being written, there are only 11 hydrogen fuel sites across the UK. Five of these stops are located along the M25, with some in Wiltshire and the South East of England. Scotland has two, but Northern Ireland and Wales do not have any - yet.

Hydrogen filling station

How is hydrogen produced?

While hydrogen production aims to be as green and environmentally friendly as possible, the process involves natural gases. Renewable electricity is the goal, and the UK Government are moving towards CO2 capture technology and electrolysis. During this process, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen, creating no harmful by-products.

Diagram of electrolysis producing hydrogen

Hydrogen may be the most abundant and frequently found element on the planet, but the process of transferring and utilising it for fuel cell vehicles is complicated.

Steam Methane Reforming is a standard method of creating hydrogen gas. Placing natural gas (which contains methane) with carbon monoxide under extreme pressure leads to hydrogen production. Carbon dioxide is also produced during this process, which isn't beneficial to improving our environmental impact. Carbon dioxide is one of the leading contributors to climate change and global warming, but steam methane reforming is the most cost-effective way of producing hydrogen.

Finding innovative methods of creating renewable energy and improving safety systems is important if this change is to be implemented in time.

Hydrogen cars vs electric cars

As hydrogen cars become more efficient and more filling stations are developed, more people will switch. There are many differences between electric vehicles and hydrogen cars, but here are the top three:

1.Environmental Impact

Battery electric power and hydrogen fuel tanks are environmentally friendly compared to diesel and petrol, as they emit no tailpipe exhaust gases. Hydrogen vehicles produce water as a by-product and nothing more. 

However, the production of hydrogen causes carbon emissions, and it's estimated that the car will produce around 120g/km of CO2. Charging lithium-ion batteries also require electricity, but this can be generated with wind farms and other renewable sources in the meantime.

2.Fuel Cost

Electric cars are currently cheaper to refuel; they just take longer to do so. Refuelling the hydrogen tank on a Hyundai Nexo will cost you between £63 - £95 (as hydrogen currently costs £10-£15 per kilo). On average, you can look to spend around £10-£12 every 60 miles (100km).

An electric car will cost approximately £3 to travel that same distance on a full tank. Hydrogen may be the most common element in the atmosphere and on the planet, but currently, electric cars are cheaper to recharge and run in the long run.

3.Upfront Finances

Another key difference between hydrogen cars and the battery technology in electric is the price.

The Hyundai Nexo, one of the UK models of hydrogen cars, will cost you £68,000 on initial costs. A leading electric car of the Renault Zoe will cost £18,000 in comparison. While science is backing hydrogen cars, they don't seem entirely feasible in the modern world as of yet.

The Pros And Cons Of Hydrogen And Electric Cars

Both models have pros and cons associated, and the final purchasing decision is up to the individual.

The driving range of both car types is similar

The Hyundai Nexo can reach approximately 330 miles before needing refuelling, comparable to the highest-end electric cars like the Tesla Model S. Of course, there are factors to consider (air-con on or off, the number of passengers and weight etc.) as these affect the possible distance travelled. More energy intensive journeys will place a higher strain on the battery pack or fuel cell, requiring regular refilling. However, you may not be able to drive as far on a single charge with electric vehicles compared to hydrogen counterparts.

Refuelling stations 

Electric vehicle charging is more available across the UK, with numbers of more than 30,000 across the nation. This means electric personal transportation is a lot more viable for commuting; as you know, there will be recharging points along the journey. Hydrogen refuelling points are less common, meaning you have to make a special trip to fill up the vehicle.

Refuelling speed

Hydrogen fuel cell cars trump electric charging times. You can expect to refuel your hydrogen car in no more than five minutes, whereas you will require 30 minutes in a Tesla and 4-8 hours in the BMW i3. The size of the vehicle does make a difference, as trucks will require long periods, but smaller cars will charge quicker.


On a daily basis, drivers will benefit from the many advantages of electric and hydrogen cars, or at least switching to a hybrid model. The supply improves as the demand increases, but both are a great alternative to diesel or petrol cars. However, building hydrogen filling stations is expensive, which cannot be avoided. As of the moment, the majority of operations have been halted or are slowly working in the background, as the current UK society doesn't account for hydrogen cars.

Hydrogen is a renewable source of fuel and will help the UK Government achieve their goal of environmental efficiency by 2030. Until then, as the infrastructure continues to update and modernise, there will be a gap in the market where electric continues to dominate.


If you are looking for  Hydrogen Vehicle Conversion in the UK contact our specialist team today for information and advice.