Volkswagen Rules Out Hydrogen Power For Passenger Cars

Electric Vehicles / 5 Comments

Not in this decade, not for Volkswagen.

In an interview with the Spanish arm of Auto Bild, Thomas Schafer, CEO of Volkswagen, ruled out the idea that Volkswagen might work on hydrogen-powered passenger cars. "Hydrogen is not for us," he told the Spanish publication before elaborating.

This comes at a fascinating time in the auto industry as each automaker bets its development money on how electrification will play out. Companies including BMW, Toyota, and Hyundai seem to be developing hydrogen-based electric vehicles in the long game. For the shorter game, BMW and Hyundai are heavy into battery-powered cars, while Toyota seems to think hybrid is the better shorter-term play. Volkswagen, it appears, is all in on pure battery power for the long term.

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When pressed about the long term, Schafer clarified.

"No. Hydrogen is pure physics and it is expensive. It is not competitive, especially for passenger cars, whose tanks take up space in the cabin. Maybe for commercial vehicles, but not in the passenger car. So I don't see this happening in this decade. Not in Volkswagen."

It's a curious position to take. As far as we've been able to gather, Hyundai and Toyota see the growth in commercial hydrogen trucks being how a network of hydrogen stations grows. But Schafer comes across as being clear on purpose and strategy. He sees connected cars and battery power as the place to bet the farm. But the batteries come first.

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"It's a challenge to manage both at the same time. You have to continue with the development of classic vehicles, but also that of connected ones: software, architecture, and security. But at the same time, you have to invest in the production of batteries. It is true that once this is over, it is a technology that has to be observed and developed more, but when we can focus only on it, it will be simple."

This all comes as Volkswagen prepares to follow the popular ID.4 with the ID.7 sedan, complete with the smartest air-conditioning system yet to appear in a car.

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