Hydrogen fuel cell cars are getting closer and closer to usability. At the Geneva Motor Show, DaimlerChrysler introduced its Mercedes-Benz B-Class fuel cell car, which uses the same external frame as its popular-in-Europe B-Class compact car. Green Car Congress has some of the details -- the new model fuel cell (shown in blue in the cutaway image) puts out a respectable 134 horsepower (100 kW), and the vehicle can get about 400 km (250 miles) on a tank of hydrogen, both significant improvements over the previous DaimlerChrysler fuel cell design. (An aside: if we move to a hydrogen world, will we still refer to it as a "tank of gas?" I suspect we will, the same way many people still talk about "dialing" a phone or "turning" the channel on a TV. But I digress.)
DaimlerChrysler says that over 100 of their fuel cell vehicles are currently in operation for everyday use, part of "the world’s most extensive series of practical tests for the fuel cell in cars, vans and regular service buses." Additional photos of the B-Class fuel cell car can be found here.
Vehicle fuel cells are progressing nicely, and I would expect to see hydrogen-fueled cars with range and power roughly equivalent to current gasoline vehicles in the not-too-distant future. That solves one of the problems with a transition to a hydrogen world -- but not all of them. Some of the remaining dilemmas we need to work out include: (a) Where does the hydrogen come from? (b) How is it stored? (c) How long does it take to fill the tank? (d) Where can you find fueling stations? (e) Can we bring fuel cell prices down to acceptable levels?
Nonetheless, for those of you pulling for the hydrogen version of the bright green transportation world, this new Benz should be an exciting development.
Sorry, but the last question in my opinion is answered with a resounding no...cost will never be competitive with a good ol IC engine in the hybrid mode.AND the mileage will be comparable..AND the IC can run on methanol or ethanol or hydrogen.