Robert Llewellyn doesn't think a hydrogen car will be available on the market anytime soon, reasoning that it may be over fifty years until it's used in small family vehicles and other modes of transport.
In yesterday's interview with MotorTorque, we asked actor and passionate car enthusiast Robert if electric cars in their current form where merely a stop-gap while buyers waited for affordable hydrogen technology to appear on the market.
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"I don't think s HFC (hydrogen fuel cell) will be used in small passenger vehicles, certainly not for 50-plus years. I would love to see trains, ships, large trucks, diggers, earth movers, agricultural machinery using HFC. It makes sense in large machines.
"A hydrogen car is an electric car, it just uses hydrogen as a battery. I know this may be obvious to some, but many people (okay, just men) will use the 'future is hydrogen, James May said so' as an excuse to do nothing now and keep on hammering the Beemer up the M6."
Hydrogen cars have received bad press this week after it was revealed that three low-emission hydrogen black cabs, which have been introduced especially for the London Olympics, will have to be loaded onto a transporter and driven 130 miles to Swindon, just to refuel.
The closest refuelling station at Lea Interchange near the Olympic Park has been closed for security reasons, meaning the nearest available station is at Honda's Swindon plant.
London's Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse said at the launch of the hydrogen taxi scheme, "London's hydrogen economy is bounding ahead. The HYTEC (Hydrogen Transport for European Cities) project has been a terrific success, and it provides great lessons for others to get ahead in the most exciting new industry of the 21st century."
Richard Kemp-Harper, the lead technologist looking at transport and energy for the board, says of the issue, "The benefits for those taxis - apart from showing off some great British technology to the rest of the world - is actually that they produce water out of their tail pipes.
"So the particulates and air quality - it's a big difference for London even if there's a small carbon problem with having to ship them up to Swindon to pick up hydrogen at the moment."
On the practicalities of hydrogen technology
Whilst speculating that it may be more than half a century before hydrogen technology is seen in smaller vehicles, Robert hopes that a breakthrough will happen sooner rather than later.
"The cost of shrinking [a HFC] down small and light enough for passenger cars is a technological problem engineers have been struggling with for 40 years.
"I hope they do it, I hope there are tech breakthroughs that make it possible for a sub £100,000 hydrogen fuel cell car. The Honda Clarity, beautiful HFC car with enormous lithium-ion battery pack by the way, is around $2 million.
"We must also consider where hydrogen comes from. At present, most of it is from fossil fuel. It's steamed out of natural gas, it's produced by oil companies.
"They are obviously very keen to encourage us to adopt this technology and hats off to them, it's still better than burning oil directly. A hydrogen fuel cell car with all the problems is still better than an old ICE engine running at 25% efficiency.
"I like the idea of producing hydrogen using excess wind energy (there's lots of it) and feeding it into the gas supply, as they do in Germany."
Written by John Meadowcroft