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    Alternatives to the Electric Car:
    Thumbs up or Thumbs Down?

    Everybody is talking about electromobility. But what about other eco-friendly engine types? Are there effective alternatives to the electric car? We have taken a closer look at two concepts for you: the new hydrogen technology and the more established natural gas engine.

  • An exhaust that doesn't emit anything but steam? It sounds like a pipe dream, but it is now reality thanks to hydrogen-powered cars. Hydrogen vehicles are basically electric vehicles, with the major difference being that the power for the engine is not stored in a battery before the journey and then accessed. Instead, power is generated while the vehicle is in motion using a hydrogen-powered fuel cell. The hydrogen reacts with oxygen to form steam and electricity. A battery covers peak load, for example when accelerating, and stores the kinetic energy generated through braking. When the hydrogen used to power the vehicle is produced using electricity from renewable sources, this process is emission-free locally and has a positive impact on the environment.

    Man sitting on windmill and looking at the beautiful view Renewable energies are important and have a positive impact on the environment.
  • Hydrogen: the pros and cons at a glance

    Hydrogen car at a H2 charging station Hydrogen can be refueled easily and quickly. 

    Hydrogen cars have a decent range, with the Toyota Mirai, for instance, being able to do around 500 kilometres (310 miles). Hydrogen-powered vehicles can also be refuelled in just a few minutes. Nevertheless, there are also considerable drawbacks – such as the high purchase price. Costing at least £60,000 to buy in the UK, a hydrogen car is a huge expense factor. And unless the high production costs go down, it is not likely that anything will change here. What is more, there are only 177 hydrogen filling stations in Europe. This engine is also extremely inefficient, which is sobering: Just 25 percent of the initial energy is used to move the vehicle, the rest is lost. By comparison, electric cars have an efficiency level of around 70 percent.

  • Natural gas: The environment is breathing a sigh of relief, but the average person is not.  

    Natural gas vehicles have an impressively low environmental impact, too. They are fuelled by natural gas, biogas or syngas and emit around 25 percent less CO2 than cars with diesel or petrol engines. The quantities of hydrocarbons and nitric oxides released are also much lower. Another benefit is that compressed natural gas (CNG) is subsidised by the government, making it cheaper than diesel or petrol. This can pay off, especially for frequent drivers. Tax incentives and subsidies are also often available. But with a network of just around 5,100 natural gas fuelling stations in Europe, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

     

     

    Natural Gas After all, natural gas saves 25% CO2 compared to normal combustion engines. 
  • Conclusion: Alternatives to the electric car are not yet ready for the masses.

    Webasto charging station quickly recharges electric car Are you already charging? For environmentally friendly mobility.

     Are there eco-friendly alternatives to the electric car? Yes, absolutely. And technologies based on hydrogen and natural gas are already efficient options for commercial vehicles and rail transport today. But these propulsion technologies are currently beyond the average person’s budget. So it’s no wonder that only 507 hydrogen-powered cars were registered in Germany in 2020. However, things are looking up for CNG vehicles: 98,460 of these vehicles were on the roads in Germany in 2020. Not bad, all things considered! By comparison, 136,617 electric cars took to German roads in 2020. Nevertheless, with 47 million vehicles in Germany, there is still plenty of room for improvement. But we’re off to a good start. And you know what they say: The first step is always the hardest. Now it’s down to every single one of us to use our initiative, take responsibility and support the mobility options of the future. Are you up for it?

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