The Daily Mail is claiming blue hydrogen is better fuel for cars: let’s see if it is (hint of course not)

As in the USA, some of the UK newspapers have an illogical hatred of electric cars. Perhaps chief amongst them, in the UK, is the Daily Mail. Now, I’m unsure what it’s problem is, but this article is littered with errors.

The article is titled “Will blue gas kill Tesla? (linked at the bottom of this article). New emission-free hydrogen manufacturing process can fuel a 300-mile trip on a full tank (the suggestion is that all carbon dioxide can be captured and buried: there is no way it will catch 100%) compared to the average Elon Musk-owned electric cars that go 250 miles on a single battery charge” and I include a link at the bottom of the page to the article in question.

Now, there are a number of problems with this, I will go through them below:

  1. Fair comparison: Let’s start with the range of quotes, the standard range Tesla 3 can go 278 miles on a charge, and that is one of the lowest ranges they offer. As such “average” range of a Tesla in the UK would be around 300 miles – around the range quoted for a hydrogen car, so this advantage doesn’t exist.
  2. Cost: the only hydrogen car on the market currently is the Hyundai Nexo – and it costs £69,495 as of November. Now if the hydrogen car is this expensive, you shouldn’t be comparing it to the ‘standard range plus’ Tesla 3, you should be comparing it to the long range, costing £49,000. This car has 350 miles range.
  3. Cost to fuel: for the Hyundai Nexo it will cost between £65 and £95 to fuel, between 20p and 30p per mile to drive. A tesla at a supercharger, will cost 24p per kilowatt hour, or under 5p per mile. This means an 80% charge will cost roughly £14.40
  4. Cleanliness: both of these cars are ‘green options’. So how green are they? Well, a Tesla car is as clean as the electricity generation. Tesla superchargers generate much of their own power, using solar – many who buy an electric car also get solar panels as well. While this blue hydrogen does cause emissions, even if we are generous and assume they capture 100% (highly unlikely) the hydrogen still needs transporting, which causes emissions.

So in actuality, the hydrogen car starts at almost twice the cheapest Tesla, and even going for the performance with every option, you will be hard pressed to spend £70,000. 

Refueling costs about £15 at a supercharger for an 80% charge, though most refueling is done at home costing less than £10 for the same amount – refueling is therefore 10-15% of the cost.

Emissions for electricity can be zero, worst case scenario is unlikely to be as high.

The only area that I would give a hydrogen car the win is refueling – taking 5-10 minutes. However, even here the advantage is far smaller than you’d expect. A tesla can gain 75 miles of range in 5 minutes or 180 in 15 minutes. Charging 5%-90% will just take 37 minutes. 

However you have to ask, how far do you want to drive without stopping? Assuming a need for toilet breaks every hour or so, charging is done unsupervised, so plugging in during comfort breaks takes barely extra time than just parking.

The article argues a hydrogen car will last longer – however with Tesla’s latest batteries they are predicting ranges of 1 million miles before you have to think about changing batteries, which at average distance driven in 1000 years. Given most car buyers replace their car every 7 – 10 years longevity is irrelevant, but assuming each car is driven till it falls apart, the electric car is more likely to win, lasting far longer.

The article also states that after use the battery is thrown away – this is already incorrect. The vast majority of car batteries have a second life as storage, as after being removed they usually still have more than 70% of their capacity remaining.

In conclusion, when buying a Tesla 3 you are likely saving £20,000 over a cost of the Hyundai Nexo. Assuming average distance driven for the UK, refueling in your Tesla 3 will cost £250-375 depending on quantity of supercharging, hydrogen cost will be (at the lowest price every time – highly unlikely £1,625 up to £2,250). 

Savings over 10 years would be about £40,000 (compared with a Tesla 3), and this buys you a similar fuelling habit to fossil fuel car. Small adjustments mean only visiting a refueling station on long journeys, and then potentially only stopping for more regular comfort breaks. 

The article does concede that electric cars will grow fast for some time until the hydrogen network is built up, but this is likely to lead to an unbeatable lead.

Here is a link for you to read the article yourself. I don’t know what you think, but my feeling is that this article makes the argument for electric cars rather well, even if by accident.

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