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PHOTO CAPTION: Hyundai Blue2 fuel cell concept car.

Coming: Vehicle Fuel Cell Revolution

Jessica King Holden sees fuel cells eventually solving the problems of battery-powered electric cars.

Published: 26-Jan-2012

Have you filled up your combustion-engine car with record-priced unleaded octane lately? We don't use this kind of jargon in describing our automobiles because, until recently, our options were limited. The US is lagging behind other markets in adapting alternative energy, but change is coming. Investors may very well benefit from taking a position in fuel cell-related stocks now ahead of the 2015 roll-out of many major auto industry automobiles using this technology.

In 2003, Toyota Motors (TM) introduced the first commercially available hybrid gasoline-electric car, the Prius. Toyota has gone a long way with this efficient, favorite among hybrid electric owners. What once was an eye-catching oddity, the Prius has become more of an economically attractive staple of the auto landscape. Toyota's 2012 projections include selling 220,000 Prius vehicles on US soil. Its sales of hybrid vehicles worldwide topped the 3 million mark in February 2011. Toyota pioneered the field in the US, but other companies have cashed in on the route it paved. Other top selling US hybrid companies include models from Hyundai (HYMTF.PK), Lexus, Honda (HMC), and Ford (F).

In 2010, Nissan (NSANY.PK) introduced the Leaf, the first commercially available battery-electric car. Since its launch in December, Nissan has sold over 20,000 Leafs. Most major automobile companies have entered this market. Competition is heating up to continue to develop this technology and answer critics of its mainstream capability in the market. Many electric vehicles are being paired with gas or diesel to extend range without the constraints of using batteries. For example, the Chevy Volt from General Motors (GM) can extend a 40 mile rage to 500 with a single gas fill up. While companies like Tesla Motor's (TSLA), have stuck to batteries alone and have improved technology such that some models can get up to a 300 mile range per charge.

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