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The Car of His Dreams

Amory Lovins says gas prices won't stick, but even if they do, he's still stuck on his Hypercar.
Fortnightly Magazine - February 15 2001

conveniently in ... an ordinarily inefficient heavy steel vehicle. That's where the automakers started thinking about fuel cells, and they said, "Oh dear, the tanks won't fit."

So the only way to be able to get decent driving range is to take compact liquid fuel ... and reform it into hydrogen on board. Almost all the problems that people talk about with fuel cells are actually reformer problems, not fuel cell problems. ... By the time you get through, a good gasoline reformer fuel cell car is probably no more efficient, and maybe less efficient, than an efficient internal combustion engine gasoline car. So by going to the reformer you gave up most of the reasons for wanting the fuel cell in the first place.

How will fuel cell cars compete with today's hybrids?

[The Honda Insight and Toyota Prius hybrids] are very good cars. ... But I think engine hybrids starting in 2003 and accelerating rapidly over the next two years after that will be leap-frogged by fuel cell hybrids. At least eight major automakers have announced volume production of fuel cell cars starting between 2003 and 2005. I think it also actually offers interesting possibilities for the [vehicle] fleet that utilities themselves operate.

Do you have a message for the utility industry?

It behooves utilities that are modernizing and automating their distribution systems to design them for bidirectional flow. ... In the future, with or without plug-in Hypercar generators we will certainly have a lot more distributed generation so it's important that your distribution system be designed and built to handle gracefully power flows in any direction.

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