This is a good news / bad news blog post. The good news is that a Formula Zero racing autot powered by hydrogen set a new unofficial record on a 1/8 mile track. At the Belgian Circuit Zolder, students from Leuven drove this distance in a mere 10.4 seconds compared to the official record of 11.6 seconds. Unfortunately there was no FIA official on hand to validate the new record.
And, on this same day in Europe, Crown Prince Haakon officially opened the Norwegian Hydrogen Highway or Hynor. The Norway Hynor project features six hydrogen fueling stations from Oslo to Stavanger. Also, the Mazda RX-8 RE hydrogen auto is making an appearance to help open the Norwegian Hydrogen Highway as well.
Now, as the Formula Zero race autots are setting records in the EU and the Norwegian Hydrogen Highway is also opening in Europe and the Japanese are continuing to develop their hydrogen autos and own version of the hydrogen highway, President Obama (the bad news) has decided to slash funding for H2 autos by more than half.
What is puzzling is the desire to give up a race when one is only half way around the track, which is not keeping up with the American spirit of competing to win. As the Japanese and Europeans are surging ahead, the Obama Administration and DOE have decided to pull up lame and let others blaze past us to the finish line.
It’s like the Obama Administration is quitting halfway through the race saying “I can’t win this so I won’t even finish. I’ll just move to a different track now with slower competitors and maybe I can win that.”
Quitting on hydrogen autos is not the answer. It’s short sighted and will set us up in a position to play a long game of catch up later. Are the Europeans and Japanese quitting? No, they are not. They will have hydrogen autos and infrastructure in place far before the U. S. does. And then we will end of saying “Why aren’t we doing that here?”