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PHOTO CAPTION: Audi A7 h-tron quattro has EV-mode range up to 40 miles with a fuel cell range extended proving additional driving range.

Fuel Cells V. Electric Cars: Both Are Winners

Senior engineer with the Clean Vehicles Program David Reichmuth sees benefits in both technologies, especially when they are combined in vehicles like the Audi A7 h-tron quattro prototype.

Published: 19-Dec-2014

Often when I’m talking to people about plug-in and fuel cell electric vehicles, I’m asked, “which one is going to win?” Trying to divine which type of vehicle will be more prevalent in the future is impossible, but thankfully it’s not really important to know the answer. That’s because both types of electric vehicles, fuel cells AND plug-ins, will be important solutions to reducing emissions and oil use. To help explain why we need all types of electric vehicles, UCS has recently produced a fact sheet: “The Importance of Both Battery Electric and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles.”

Fuel cell and plug-in electric vehicles are complementary technologies
Both fuel cells and plug-ins have advantages depending on the driver and use for the vehicle, and there isn’t one “best” electric vehicle that will fit every driver in the U.S – though EVs can work for millions of American drivers.

Plug-ins (like the Nissan Leaf) are, in general, the most efficient type of personal vehicle as the electric motor is much more efficient than the conventional combustion engine and batteries are also highly efficient in storing and discharging electricity. Because of their higher efficiency, plug-ins are often the vehicle choice that produces the least global warming emissions. They also can use existing electric infrastructure, like outlets in garages, to recharge their batteries so some households can use an electric vehicle with no additional infrastructure required. Research and development of plug-in vehicles has expanded over the last decade and has resulted in a quickly growing number of vehicle models available and public recharging infrastructure is also expanding.

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