Editorial: Why We Cover Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Cars (And Other Fuel Types, Too)

Take one look at the Transport Evolved homepage, and it’s clear to see that a lot of the transportation we cover happens to have a plug. In fact, if you look quickly, you’d be forgiven for thinking Transport Evolved is exclusively dedicated to electric cars and plug-in hybrids. That’s because we did originally start that way: as an informal podcast devoted to plug-in cars.

We've upset some of our readers by covering hydrogen fuel cell cars -- but here's why we cover them.

We’ve upset some of our readers by covering hydrogen fuel cell cars — but here’s why we cover them.

Lately however, we’ve been covering more than just plug-in cars. We’re covering everything from autonomous drive technology through to safety technology, improvements in fuel efficiency and other alternative fuel technologies like hydrogen fuel cell cars.  And it’s something which hasn’t gone unnoticed by some of our regular readers, podcast fans and supporters, some of which have expressed open bemusement about our recent editorial decisions.

So, we’ve decided to write a post explaining why we cover hydrogen fuel cell electric cars, as well as other fuel types on a site which was once just a plug-in car site.

A quick history lesson

As those who have followed us since the early days know, Transport Evolved was originally a podcast devoted to green car technology, with a heavy emphasis on plug-in cars. With a weekly, fairly low-tech show, we aimed to cover the news from the world of green transport every week in a fun and informal way, reaching a small but devoted core audience.

While our background is in plug-in cars, we'll drive anything.

While our background is in plug-in cars, we’ll drive anything.

Then, as our audience numbers grew, we decided to offer more than just a weekly show. We relaunched our site, adding in daily content consisting of news, reviews and buying advice, as well as several new YouTube shows, the most prominent of which was our ten-minute Transport Evolved News — T.E.N. — show.

When we chose the name Transport Evolved back in 2010, we sought to capture the essence of the entire green car marketplace. And while there really wasn’t much other than hybrid and electric car technology to cover, we hoped one day to become the go-to place for news on personal transport that was cleaner, greener, smarter and safer than your everyday gasoline car.

Where we are today

Since our site expanded back in October 2013 to include weekly news and more than one weekly show, our site has experienced massive growth. We’re reaching more readers and viewers than ever before, and we love interacting and talking to you all. While many of our core fans are already driving green, environmentally-friendly vehicles, we’re noticing more people than ever before contacting us for buying advice.

Unlike the early days of greener transport, may of the people talking to us today are everyday car buyers and consumers, people who are experiencing future car technology for the very first time and are looking for a place to go where new car technology — evolved car technology, if you will — is explained in everyday, tangible terms. This quest for knowledge is something we aim to help with, by providing honest, experience-based advice, reviews and background.

We want to help our readers — old and new — to understand the differences between the different types of alternative fuelled vehicles out there. We want to highlight the challenges that face some of the technologies as they head towards mass-adoption. And we have to be honest and open about them all.

We want to explain the weird and wonderful, as well as the everyday, in terms everyone can understand.

We want to explain the weird and wonderful, as well as the everyday, in terms everyone can understand.

And that’s why you’ll find our tag line for the site now reads “Transport Evolved: Cleaner, Greener, Safer, Smarter.” Just like the early days of computers, where there were a myriad of different operating systems, manufacturers and languages for consumers to try and understand, today’s future car marketplace is a minefield for would-be buyers.

Like the early computer magazines of the 1980s and 1990s, we seek to explain future car technology in ways that everyone will understand, while providing more in-depth analysis for those who want or need it. Unlike mainstream automotive sites — many of which are coming to future car technology for the first time with little or no technical background — we’ve got the technical expertise and valuable experience needed to make our advice informed and relevant.

What we’re not

This brings us nicely to explaining what we’re not at Transport Evolved. We’re often mistaken for an advocacy site at first glance, or perhaps worse, a fanboy site. While our entire, regular editorial team drive some form of plug-in car — something we believe no other news site on line can boast — we’re open to exploring any form of technology that is cleaner, greener, safer and smarter than the cars of yesteryear. Occasionally, we’ll even cover things that don’t drive on the roads, like airplanes or boats.

If it’s cleaner, greener, safer and smarter — and it represents a possible future of  transport — we want to cover it.

We want more people driving cleaner, safer, smarter vehicles.

We want more people driving cleaner, safer, smarter vehicles, so we’re here to give you the information you need to make that happen.

Rather than being a purely plug-in advocacy site, we view ourselves as an information portal, one where considered opinion rather than knee-jerk reaction is given a home. As writers, we try to put our personal preferences and opinions to one side in order to ensure a technology or innovation is given as balanced a coverage as possible. And sometimes, on our Transport Evolved Panel Talk Show, you’ll find our guests and hosts airing controversial views, simply to engage a healthy, whole discussion.

It’s that goal — to be a site where readers can find information and then make their own minds up — which drives us to cover everything from plug-in vehicles through to hydrogen fuel cell cars, compressed natural gas and even internal-combustion-engined autonomous driving race cars.

“But you are advocates!”

Those who know the editorial team well will know that we are in some way, plug-in car advocates in the ‘real world,’ helping organise various electric car events, driving plug-in cars on a daily basis, and generally enjoying the joys of not filling up with gasoline.

You’ve got us. As individuals, each of the editorial team plays a role in some way as a future car advocate. I used to be on the board of various plug-in car groups and one of our editorial team is on the board of Plug In America. But when we’re writing for Transport Evolved, we try to listen to views that we may personally not hold true in order to offer a balanced counterpoint that we hope enriches our site.

The hydrogen question

Which brings us to the question of hydrogen fuel cell cars. In a recent post, we asked What is it like to drive a hydrogen fuel cell car?followed a few days later by coverage of the U.S. DoE’s new $1 million H2 Refuel H-Prize. In both situations, we were attacked for giving hydrogen fuel cell cars a voice, of promoting a technology which as may of our readers feel, ‘has no real chance of surviving in the world today’.

Yet here at Transport Evolved, we have a duty to cover all future fuel technologies, especially ones that are being given widespread, national coverage by mainstream media outlets. Mainstream media outlets which often lack the necessary background and context to properly express what these technologies mean for the everyday car buyer.

Ultimately, we want to help consumers make informed choices, and let the market decide.

Ultimately, we want to help consumers make informed choices, and let the market decide.

Just as the world of autonomous drive technology is scattered with minefields of legal complications, hypothetical what-ifs and technological dead ends, the world of plug-in cars and the world of hydrogen fuel cell cars both face tough challenges in order to be accepted and adopted by mainstream buyers. As journalists, we seek the pure facts and aim to distil the essence of our personal experiences for others to judge themselves. This sometimes means we have to ask tough questions and promote healthy, informed debate.

Even if a technology has massive challenges that lay ahead of it, we would be negligent for not covering it. At the moment, hydrogen fuel cell technology isn’t emissions free, isn’t scalable, and is extremely expensive. Yet the industry — pushed by some large names in the automotive world — is determined to see it succeed.

We can’t say if hydrogen will ultimately be a fuel of the future any more than we can predict the rise of the self-driving car. Yet covering it is part of our remit, despite our personal views.

At the end of the day, we would rather people come to a site with a background in clean fuels and future car technology than a mainstream site with little technical expertise. And we hope you do too .

So, if we post something you disagree with, remember: we want healthy discussion. Have at it, in the Comments below.

Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield


Transport Evolved.


Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.


Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

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  • Dan Westin

    Thank you for covering Hydrogen tech. You shouldn’t have to explain anything. About a year ago I posted an article about Hydrogen on a fairly busy site and the replies that I received were astonishing. Personal attacks and insults galore, but few actual comments on what was posted. This caused me to do more research on Hydrogen and the more I learned the more convincing the pro Hydrogen arguments became. I believe that there is more to this bashing than just a bunch of uninformed responders. Hydrogen is decentralized fuel – anyone can make it. It’s a direct threat to state control. And Statists know it.nnThe announcement of the Solar Hydrogen station at Honda’s Swindon factory takes away the main talking point the Hydrogen detractors use to bash H2- dirty gas. So they will ignore it. But they can’t ignore it forever. I highly recommend this book called “Solar Hydrogen- The Fuel of the Future”. Every page has something interesting and it’s easy to read. Anyone that reads it will be in front of the Solar Hydrogen Revolution that is now underway.nhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1849731950/nnPlease continue to cover Hydrogen and every other Tech you see fit. I’m a new fan but I’ll do my best to circulate your excellent reporting and analysis.nnOne more thing- Here’s a video that shows that a Hydrogen Infrastructure can be built faster and cheaper than any Hydrogen basher would like to imaginenhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjGaNGhz1pE

    • Surya

      I can see why you like H2. And I like the idea. But as long as no renewable, sustainable and energy efficient way is found to source the fuel, I can’t support it.

      • Dan Westin

        Transport Evolved hasn’t written about it (yet) but Honda has a renewable, sustainable and energy efficient way to make H2 RIGHT NOW. nn”Hydrogen fuel becomes a practical reality”nn”The launch of the UKu2019s first commercial-scale hydrogen production and refuelling facility powered by solar energy heralds the dawn of an era of true carbon-free fuel.”nnhttp://s24.postimg.org/jp2mwjo9x/itv_screenshot_honda_swindon_solar575x322.jpgnnhttp://www.shdlogistics.com/news/view/hydrogen-fuel-becomes-a-practical-reality nnInstitute of Mechanical Engineers: First green hydrogen refuelling station opens. Solar-powered hydrogen available to drivers at Honda’s Swindon factorynnhttp://www.imeche.org/news/engineering/first-green-hydrogen-refuelling-station-opensnnThis is THE biggest Hydrogen news in the last few years so no doubt TE will cover it.nnITV’s Rebecca Broxton reports on Honda’s SolarParknhttp://www.itv.com/news/west/story/2014-09-03/solar-farm-opens-in-swindon/

        • Surya

          I know there are clean solutions. But since you can travel about 3 times as far if you use that energy to charge a battery in stead of using it to create H2, I can’t consider this solution efficient and thus not sustainable enough.

          • Dan Westin

            You wrote: “But as long as no renewable, sustainable and energy efficient way is found to source the fuel, I can’t support it”nnProvided with proof that there IS a way to provide “renewable, sustainalbe and energy efficient” H2 NOW you move the goal posts. I’m used to this kind of thing. nnH2 is here and there isn’t a single thing you or anyone else can do to stop it. Honda has sunk the main H2 bashers boat.nn”you can travel about 3 times as far if you use that energy to charge a battery in stead of using it to create H2″nnWhen most people charge their EV’s they are using electrons made from burning coal. So now you’re not real interested in “renewable, sustainable and energy efficient” any more, are you.;

          • Surya

            I didn’t move anything. My first reply included efficiency. And that efficiency should at least come close to technology that is working today.nnnnAnd I happen to be very interested in being renewable, sustainable and efficient. I have an EV, I have a 100% renewable energy plan and I have a PV array on order.nnnBut still, if you need to burn 3 times that amount of coal to create the H2 to travel the same distance, I don’t see how you can say that is better. The efficiency has to go up dramatically. You know what the order of being sustainable? The first step is to reduce.

  • leptoquark

    ” In both situations, we were attacked for giving hydrogen fuel cell carsn a voice, of promoting a technology which as may of our readers feel, nu2018has no real chance of surviving in the world todayu2019.”nnIt’s amazing how, in the age of the Internet, people can become so prejudicial, since the web can act as a perfect mirror of preconceived ideas. nnI would very much like to keep up with what’s happening with fuel cells, even though, I think Toyota et al. will be hugely disappointed with them, and their fuel cell investments may very well cripple the company. I’m especially anticipating the fuel cell lobby trying their hand at getting their very expensive infrastructure subsidized at the expense of far more affordable EV infrastructure. And, after all, it’s possible (though not likely) that there will be vast farms of solar or wind powered hydrogen generating stations renewably producing hydrogen indefinitely, in which case there might be something to it.nnNikki, it’s your site and you have the vision. Go with your gut, and you’ll have nothing to apologize for.

    • Andrew Bell

      Last year I was listening to a solar/hydrogen research presentation at the Canadian Solar Industry conference. The purpose for the research project was for vast solar farms for hydrogen generating stations. The clients for the research project? The Oil Sands industry.

  • Espen Hugaas Andersen

    I can’t see that Transport Evolved was attacked in the comment fields of the recent articles, but I assume you may have gotten some emails.nnI don’t think there’s anything wrong with people giving feedback saying that they would rather see more articles covering X and fewer articles covering Y, but it should of course be done in a polite and constructive manner.nnI’m personally in the camp that doesn’t think the pro-hydrogen forces have a snowballs chance in hell of succeeding, but if Transport Evolved wants to cover hydrogen, great! I always find such articles entertaining, and they really only highlight the downsides of hydrogen vs battery.

  • Rick Covert

    Nikki, the big auto makers are pushing it so you can’t burry your head in the sand. You have articulately explained the limits of H2 and they are many. We who have followed EVs and HFCVs know this. So don’t feel like you have to explain it. The facts themselves demonstrate the extreme challenge of getting HFCVs to market and to scale up an H2 refueling infrastructure on any kind of level like we have now with gasoline vehicles.

    • Andrew Bell

      Rick, what about those new in this sphere who may not be aware of the limits of H2 though?

  • Esl1999 .

    Free press and free opinions, I say.

  • vdiv

    Nikki,nnYou may want to change the “masthead” of the site:nhttps://transportevolved.com/people/nnThe word electric/electrified transport/plugin occurs 12 times, yet there is no mention of “other fuel types, too”. You may also want to consider other names for the various shows (QuickCharge, ChargedUp, Charge Remaining) and the monthly subscriptions to reflect the expanded scope, such as “Hydrolized” , “Steam Reformed”, “Hybrid”, “Under Pressure”, “Pumped Up”, “Viscous and Breezy,” etc.nnIn terms of new content the various types are “well-represented” yet for the sake of readibility you may want to add categories for the articles akin to GreenCarReports.comnnnnGood luck!

  • Peter Cutler

    Consider energy density. The norm for an EV battery weighs in at about a quarter ton and when fully charged is equivalent to approx. 2.5 gallons of highly taxed expensive petrol at 13 lbs. The difference in taxation and pollution is what makes the change to electricity viable. The fuel cell car with 12 lbs. of compressed hydrogen has a published range in excess of 200 miles, more than double that of gas or electric. Itu2019s a magic solution on all counts were it not for the vast expense of the hardware and infrastructure. Maybe the production of home produced hydrogen is an easier nut to crack than research into the ultimate battery.

  • Ben Helton

    There must be something to this technology… Nissan has recently partnered with Ford and Mercedes to share fuel cell technologies to help lock in each others own success. Nissan – the number one manufacturer and seller of BEVs….nnnI guess Toyota really knew all along. The battery is a primitive way to store energy in our fast moving, apartment complex lives.

    • Ben Helton

      BMW has partnered with Toyota (to help them catch up to Mercedes long time effort)nnnHmm…. maybe there’s something going on here.

    • Ben Helton

      General Motors on Honda have joined forces for their fuel cell success… WHA!?

    • Ben Helton

      Even Volkswagen doesn’t want to get left out of the mix. The great creator of the first publicly leased Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle, Hyundai, has joined forces with Volkswagen to expand their fuel cell ability.

  • You must start with a proper understanding.nnA fuel cell car is still and Electrically powered vehicle.nnThe motors are electric.nnnThe fuel cell provides the electricity, but it is moderated with a small battery to maintain steady voltage.nnThe advantages of hydrogen fuel cells are many..including long range, stability of charge. Hydrogen cars fit into the existing infrastructure of going to a filling station. nnI look forward to your enhanced coverage of this exciting and profitable technology!

    • Bung0

      “Existing infrastructure”. What on earth are you talking about??? This is probably the craziest thing you’ve said as of late. But do please fill me in on the “existing” Hydrogen infrastructure that is even 1% that of the existing motorfuel infrastructure or electricity infrastructure. Please, educate me!

  • Peter Cutler

    Whatu2018s required is a catalyst converter able to strip off hydrogen from water or steam. Eventually travel will cost the price of a road fund router licence in the same way that Skype is today with a data router and a broadband account.

  • Paul Gracey

    I just got to see this from being guided this way through Google’s “you might like” news feature bot. Hydrogen Fuel Cells aren’t evolving except to constrain the improvement of BEV technology. If your Editorial team drive only piug-in cars today, it will have been because non of them bought or leased one of these retrograde vehicles championed by the interests that intend to keep plugs out of the general population’s hands.
    You may never see a plug-in FCV and of course the idea of hydrogen and a spark will be touted to say why, even though electricity in the vehicle could do the same in a collision we should be scared of the very idea. To those pushing the technology, the fungible commodity of electricity is anathema. Why some people might want to generate their own at home directly and avoid filling stations altogether.
    Today I passed a Mobil gas station being refilled by a tanker truck whose logo bore the word Solar XXX co. XXX signifies words I could not read as I drove by. Greenwash is what I immediately thought. The need to be in control of the distribution markets is a very potent one. It will cause great corruption in high places hidden well from the public’s eyes. Why this site’s expansion might even have benefitted from some of that effort to distract.