Are hydrogen fuel cells still in the race to drive the car of the future?

Image: Ballard Power Systems

It’s ironic that in Vancouver, where Ballard Power Systems pioneered the hydrogen fuel cell, there are still only about a dozen fuel cell cars on the road.

They were the car of the future in the 1990s, and still are. But the future is inching closer.

Major automakers like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are now making fuel cell cars. They aren’t easy to get in B.C., but that may change soon, thanks to a new zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate that will be introduced in the spring of 2019.

By 2025, under ta new mandate, 10% of light-duty cars and trucks sod in B.C. will have to be some form of low- or zero-carbon-emission vehicle. That includes battery electric, hybrid electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

The mandate applies to the manufacturers more than to auto dealers. They are required to supply electric or fuel cell cars to the market or pay a penalty.

The government’s Clean Energy Vehicles for BC program offers rebates of up to $6,000 for fuel cell cars.

The problem is that there are only two hydrogen fuelling stations in the Lower Mainland, although a third is being built in Burnaby, said Matthew Klippenstein, a clean-tech consultant and adviser for Plugin BC.

“The hope of the fuel cell community is, now that there is a ZEV mandate, the automakers will allocate fuel cell vehicles and electric vehicles to British Columbia because now there’s real money on the table.”

— Business in Vancouver