Hydrogen-powered cars

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I can’t think of hydrogen as fuel without hearing “Oh, the humanity,” wailing in my ears as the Hindenburg Zeppelin exploded over New Jersey.

But Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai all have compacts that are hydrogen fueled. The problem is that hydrogen refueling stations are currently very thin on the ground, but there’s talk that the fad for these so-called zero emissions vehicles is going to take off in the Roaring Twenties and everyone knows that electricity will be hard to come by as millions seek to recharge their batteries.

There are three hydrogen-powered models currently on sale in the US that emit nothing but water vapor from their tailpipe. They’re currently only available in California – but as the refueling time is a fraction of that of electric vehicles maybe Tesla will have to up its game for switching out batteries.

Hyundai Nexo

The Hyundai Nexo from South Korea is the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to pass the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests, achieving the highest possible rating: Top Safety Pick+. It is also the only hydrogen-powered SUV currently available and it offers the added ability to generate power, turning it into a mini-battery for outage emergencies. Starting at $59K it’s only available in California.

Toyota Mirai

The 2021 starts at $50,495/ the Mirai switches from front- to rear-wheel drive. The Mirai can go up to 402 miles on a tank of hydrogen, with its 151 horsepower drivetrain made up of two storage tanks, a fuel cell, and an electric motor that spins the front wheels. Refueling the Mirai takes five minutes, according to Toyota. The Toyota Mirai is powered by a fuel-cell electric powertrain, meaning that hydrogen is converted into electricity by the on-board fuel cell. This creates electricity by stripping electrons from hydrogen atoms; the hydrogen then bonds to oxygen to create water, while the electrons power the electric motor. The result is an electric vehicle that is fueled with hydrogen from a pump rather than electrons drawn from the nation’s electrical power grid.

Honda Clarity (Fuel Cell)

Offered as either a plug-in hybrid or a hydrogen fuel cell, the 2021 plug-in-hybrid model offers up to 48 miles of electric-only driving. If you live in California, Honda will lease you the hydrogen fuel-cell model and give you a credit for up to $15,000 worth of fuel. The Clarity’s onboard fuel cell holds enough hydrogen for up to 360 miles of driving. The Clarity comes with a 174-hp electric motor that draws electricity from a fuel cell. It hits 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. That’s quicker than the Hyundai Nexo and Toyota Mirai,