I’ve already talked about the Japanese hydrogen highway system that has been growing over the past few years. Now, the plan is for Japan to extend this hydrogen highway system for the entire country by 2015.
This is good news for Japanese auto manufacturers such as Toyota, Nissan and Mazda that all have their own brands of hydrogen autos in various stages of testing and / or fleet testing. This is especially good for Toyota who has publically stated their intention to rollout their commercial hydrogen fuel cell SUVs by 2015.
Tokyo Gas Company, Nippon Oil Corporation 11 other companies in the consortium are putting their resources together to commercialize hydrogen production and distribution.
According to Nikkei.com, “The research alliance will conduct field trials by setting up dozens of hydrogen stations across Japan. By using the oil companies’ hydrogen production facilities and the pipelines of the gas companies, the group will research ways to transport the fuel to filling stations in a stable manner at low cost.
“Some of the stations are to be built in urban areas and on highways, such as at existing gasoline-pumping depots. The group hopes to eventually lower supply costs to levels comparable to gasoline.”
While Japan and the European Union are racing to put up hydrogen fueling station post-haste, the U. S. is still muddling along with a few demonstration projects here and there with many critics whining about how hydrogen doesn’t make sense. What doesn’t make sense is falling behind the competition.
Japan, the European Union, China, India, Brazil and even Russia all see the value of producing hydrogen vehicles to reduce emissions and increase energy independence, so one would think the U. S. would be even more enthusiastic.
In a few years do we really want to be playing catch up with these countries that are already mass producing hydrogen autos and we haven’t even started yet? Do we want to bailout the U. S. automakers again because they have once again fallen behind the foreign competition?
Playing catch up doesn’t make sense. The U. S. is supposed to be a technological leader and not a follower.