Should fleet managers be aware of hydrogen cars?

Plenty of fleet managers and other automotive enthusiasts are focusing on what technology can offer them in terms of fuel efficiency. While hybrids and electric vehicles have found themselves in the spotlight in recent years thanks to the Toyota Prius and the Tesla Model S, there are other technologies set to offer an alternative.

Vehicles powered by hydrogen - commonly called fuel cell vehicles (FCV) - are yet to hit the mainstream in the way that other options have. But as electric cars grow more popular, do we really need another contender?

What's the difference?

In the grand scheme of things, electric cars and FCVs produce the same result - clean, green, emission-free propulsion. They have just chosen two different ways to go about it. 

However, the methods these two options take to achieve the same result couldn't be more different. Electric cars rely on batteries that need to be charged, meaning its equivalent of a 'refueling' process takes a large amount of time. 

While there are technologies in the works to drastically speed up this procedure, they aren't here yet. FCVs, on the other hand, will operate on a similar basis to normal cars in this regard, saving time in comparison to the electric option. 

How do they work?

Well, a lot like an electric car, actually. FCVs are still driven by an electric motor, however it's the way that this electricity is generated that sets them apart.

Hydrogen is stored in a tank, just like how petrol is kept in regular cars. This is then mixed with oxygen in a fuel cell stack, which in turn sends the created electricity to the motor that powers the wheels. 

The result of this reaction? Water - significantly less harmful to people and the environment than the gases being spewed out by vehicles with internal combustion engines.

When can I buy one?

Unfortunately, it depends on where you live, as the necessary infrastructure is still being constructed in most areas. The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, for example, is only available for leasing in Southern California as the state has the resources to make them viable. While the Toyota Mirai is available later this year, it too will rely on surrounding infrastructure.

This doesn't mean they don't have the potential to be a success as electric vehicles faced the same challenges, and in fact still are in some places. Fleet managers looking to reduce their fleet's fuel consumption should definitely have their eye on the horizon.