Nissan has been one of the staunchest, most vocal supporters of all-electric cars. It has two EV models, and its partner Renault has several as well. In the past, the company’s management hasn’t expressed any support of hydrogen as a vehicle fuel source, but that’s suddenly changed.
According to a recent report from Automotive News, CEO Carlos Ghosn says that when 2020 rolls around, Nissan’s going to jump into the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market. The announcement has taken many by surprise, needless to say, while emboldening a movement that many electric vehicle advocates have pummeled by labeling it impractical or damaging to the further development of electric powertrain tech.
This will be a team effort between Nissan and Daimler AG, the company over Mercedes-Benz and Smart. Daimler has been on the big supporters of fuel cell technology, promoting them as a practical long-term solution for getting completely away from running vehicles using fossil fuels.
In an interview, Ghosn said that Nissan isn’t rushing to produce a fuel cell vehicle, because it already has all-electric zero-emissions models. That fact puts it ahead of many rivals who are scrambling to find a way to meet rising government emissions standards around the globe.
Ghosn also mirrored what some fuel cell advocates have been saying, that the technology is young but will mature enough in the near future to make it practical for production vehicles. That fact hasn’t stopped Toyota and Hyundai from launching new fuel cell models that are available to the public (in California).
Likely helping fuel Nissan’s desire to jump into the fuel cell market is the fact that Japan is busily installing a hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Ghosn readily admitted that in most areas, a lack of infrastructure is a definite problem. At the same time, he conceded that there’s a “problem with the charging infrastructure in electric cars.”
This move puts Nissan in league with Honda, which has been working with fuel cell technology since the 1990s and is about to launch yet another fuel cell vehicle. Still, the company has announced it will launch an all-electric production model in the near future.