The Renault-Nissan Alliance, which has already announced its plans to start selling electric vehicles in the US and Japan by the end of 2010 and to mass-market electric vehicles in Israel and Denmark in 2011, has announced that will be demonstrating fuel-cell vehicle prototypes in Europe starting this month.
Nissan has be doing “real world testing” of its X-Trail fuel cell vehicle in Japan for more than two years and has already leased some of the cars to government authorities there. The most recent development is a Renault prototype called the Scenic ZEV H2. Based on a Renault Grand Scenic, the ZEV features Nissan’s in-house developed fuel cell stack, high pressure hydrogen storage tank and compact lithium-ion batteries. From June to September, Nissan will demonstrate its X-Trail fuel-cell vehicle in six European countries, while Renault will show the Scenic ZEV fuel-cell vehicle in Barcelona late in June.
Meanwhile, Honda has announced that its FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle will go on sale to the public in the United States during this Northern summer. Because of the lack of hydrogen fuel stations, the vehicle will initially only be available in the Torrence, Santa Monica and Irvine areas of Southern California.
It has been estimated that the cost of installing a hydrogen refuelling point every 25 miles on US freeways and within two miles of more than 70 per cent of the population would be about $us12 billion. To put that into perspective, in the 1960s, the US government spent $17 billion a year (in current dollar values) on its space programme and the oil industry estimates it will need to spend $200 billion in coming years simply to secure its infrastructure.