Elon Musk Says Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars Are 'Bullshit'

Illustration for article titled Elon Musk Says Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars Are 'Bullshit'

Never one to mince words, Tesla Motors CEO and badass supervillain Elon Musk channeled his inner Ralph Gilles to say what he really thinks about hydrogen fuel cells: they are "so bullshit."

Our pals over at Autoblog Green report that Musk's comments came when he was giving a speech to a Tesla service center in Germany. He told the gathered crowd of Tesla enthusiasts that he believes we can't simply wait until we burn all the fossil fuel before we switch to electric vehicles, and that hydrogen fuel cell technology is simply not viable.

Well, in so many words. Here's what he said to the naysayers:

And then they'll say certain technologies like fuel cell, and it's like oh God, fuel cell is so bullshit. The only reason they do fuel cells is... it's like a marketing thing. But the reality is that if you took a fuel cell vehicle, and you take the best case for a fuel cell vehicle in terms of mass and volume required to go a particular range, as well as the cost of the fuel cell system and... if you took the best case of that it doesn't equal the current state of the art in lithium ion batteries.

Putting up a huge hydrogen distribution center is also difficult, and hydrogen is quite a dangerous gas. It's suitable for the upper stage of rockets, but not for cars.


This, coming from a guy who probably knows a thing or two about rockets by now.

Musk has a point. While hydrogen fuel cell cars were once heralded as the true future of automobiles, largely because hydrogen is a theoretically infinite resource and the cars produce no emissions besides water, they simply never materialized. Sure, car companies say they're working on it, but the end results always feel more like a marketing exercise than anything concrete.


Then again, Musk's dog is solidly in the conventional electric vehicle fight, so it's not like has an unbiased opinion on things. But it's getting tougher and tougher to see a future for hydrogen fuel cell cars as the years go on.

Check out the full video of Musk's remarks below. Much of it is in German, but his "bullshit" comments come in around the 29 minute mark.

Photo credit Shutterstock

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Doesn't match the current state of the art in lithium ion? Well let's look at arguably the most important stat, for long road trips:

Time to refill a hydrogen tank: ~5 minutes.

Recharge time on a Model S: Uh. He'll get back to you on that...