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Fiat Chrysler: Fuel Cells, Not Batteries, Are The Future

(Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles )

Fuel Efficiency

Fiat Chrysler: Fuel Cells, Not Batteries, Are The Future

Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo 4C (Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles )

Electric vehicle proponents pretty much hate hearing about how great fuel cells are, because they think the technology is a waste of time and resources. Some even think that it’s a way for automakers to justify putting off electrification. They’re not going to be happy with Fiat Chrysler’s Chief Technology Officer, Harald Wester.

Wester was being interviewed recently by Motor Trend, and he let it all hang out when it came to electric vehicle technology. “What the hell do you want with 400 kilos of battery driving around?” he asked, pointing out how heavy electric powertrains can be.

Instead of charging forward with fully electric vehicles, Wester disclosed that the plan is to roll out hybrid options for brands like Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Sometime in the long-term, the company is planning to switch to fuel cells.

The whole thing comes down to packaging. Wester claims that fuel-cell setups will be easier to package than electric powertrains, even if a small battery is included as a range extender or backup option. It’s an interesting response, considering that at the moment fuel cells take up a considerable amount of space, when compared to batteries. The fact is that battery technology is also evolving rapidly, meaning that more powerful and compact options will likely become available in the near future.

Fans of electric cars are foaming at the mouth because Wester dodged questions in the interview about how a hydrogen fueling infrastructure would be built. He also tried to dismiss the claim that electricity is readily available, even claiming that electrical outlets aren’t accessible everywhere a person can travel.

In all fairness, the tech for fuel cells is still young, even though automakers have been playing with it off and on since the 1990s. It wasn’t too long ago that people were saying electric cars were a pipe dream. In fact, there still are people who make that claim.

Could there be a coexistence of fuel cells and electric vehicles in the future? It’s possible, even though proponents of the two technologies might not want to admit it.

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