Good to see hydrogen getting a bit of media coverage as a worthy contender for powering vehicles in the future. There has been such a powerful onslaught from those pushing the electric agenda that anyone would think the future of fuels has been decided, despite the many challenges and limitations of living with battery-powered vehicles.
At our annual Top 50 Indie dinner we heard TV presenter and motoring journalist Quentin Willson advising forecourt retailers against investing too heavily in electric charging facilities. He has owned electric vehicles for many years, driving more than 50,000 miles in them, and predicted sales of pure electric vehicles would continue to fall as indeed recent car registration figures have duly revealed. Sales of pure electric plug-in vehicles were 7.5% down to 2,904 in March 2018 compared with the same time last year. Latest registrations for plug-in and hybrid vehicles rose a modest 5.7% to 24,126 in March 2018.
Last month also saw Shell open its second public hydrogen refuelling site (see News Extra), and for the first time placing it under the same canopy as petrol and diesel pumps, showing retailers that it can be done.
Yes, there are challenges as with all fuels particularly around maintaining pressures, and difficulty in measuring, according to Shell’s hydrogen supremo Mike Copson. But hey, fuel retailers have some experience with that when you think of the problems caused by temperature variations in petrol!
Certainly hydrogen appears an easier concept for motorists to get their heads round, as refuelling a hydrogen vehicle is a similar process to what they’re currently used to. The tank runs low, it takes a few minutes to refuel at a service station, then drive away. The problem is, of course, getting the manufacturers to produce the vehicles. They need to have the funds for development, and to be sure there is demand. As Copson says, it is a chicken and egg situation. The general advice is to keep an open mind and don’t make too much of a commitment before there is more clarity.
In the meantime, what is clear is that the Forecourt Trader Awards have launched. Deadline May 14!