Ghosn joins hydrogen car skeptics

Bloomberg

Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn says consumers won’t take to fuel-cell vehicles before the decade’s end, joining Tesla Motors Inc.’s Elon Musk in questioning the future of hydrogen-powered cars.

Such vehicles only have a few locations to refuel and the required infrastructure would be prohibitive to build, according to Ghosn, echoing similar comments by Musk last month.

Nissan is pushing back its plans for fuel-cell cars as the same issue that has dogged electric vehicles will also work against hydrogen cars, with consumers waiting for facilities to be built and investors wanting the cars to be more widespread, Ghosn said Wednesday at the Tokyo Motor Show.

“I would be very curious and interested to see competitors who say they are going to mass market the car in 2015,” said Ghosn, an early proponent of electric vehicles who also heads Renault SA. “Where is the infrastructure? Who’s going to build it?”

Automakers from Toyota Motor Corp. to General Motors Co. have invested in fuel-cell technology as an alternative to electric vehicles, which have been dogged by concerns including cost, safety, limited range and access to recharging facilities.

Tesla, under U.S. scrutiny for fire risk, said this week it adjusted its Model S sedan to reduce the risk of battery packs being punctured and igniting after hitting objects in the road.

Musk said in Munich in October that there’s “no way” that fuel-cell cars will be a workable technology. Fuel cells are too complex, too costly and not clean enough, since most hydrogen is generated from natural gas, he said.

Tesla competes for resources with hydrogen cars in the form of government subsidies for rebates, fueling infrastructure and green-car credits that have made the company profitable this year.