Fuel Cell Vehicles Face Challenges,Says DeCicco

Environmental Defense calls on automakers to take constructive stance on fuel economy standards.

Published: 09-Jan-2002

WASHINGTON, DC, January 8, 2002 (ENS) - A comprehensive study of fuel cell vehicles published by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) details the hurdles to be crossed before fuel cell vehicles can see market success.

John DeCicco, a senior fellow with the conservation group Environmental Defense, has released a study of fuel cell vehicles published by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The study highlights rapid progress in fuel cell research and the technology's future promise, but notes that technical and public policy barriers are hindering the technology's development.

"Compared to other long run options," said DeCicco, "fuel cells hold great promise to address multiple concerns, including air pollution, oil dependence, and global warming, while efficiently meeting car customers' growing needs for on board electricity."

In light of the report's findings, Environmental Defense is calling on auto makers to take a more constructive stance on fuel economy standards and other policies that will pull advanced, energy efficient technologies such as fuel cells into the market sooner.

The study finds that the absence of market wide requirements for higher fuel economy blocks progress on many vehicle technologies, including fuel cells.

"It is inconsistent for the industry to tout its work on fuel cells while fighting higher fuel economy standards," said Mills.

Several auto makers have committed to putting fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2005. But the report identifies a "deployability gap" of another 10 to 15 years before a business case can be made for mass market fuel cell cars.

"Closing this gap entails speeding up progress along several challenging technical pathways," said said DeCicco.

In addition to its technology assessment, the study evaluates fuel cell vehicles within the broader context of competing technologies, market trends and pertinent public policies.

"Fuel cell technologies should receive a high priority for government research funding," said Kevin Mills, director of Environmental Defense's Clean Car Campaign. "Well targeted tax incentives such as the Senate CLEAR Act [Cleaner Efficient Automobiles Resulting From Advanced Car Technologies] will also help advance clean vehicle technologies."

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