China’s former minister of science and technology, Wan Gang, is calling for the world’s largest auto market to embrace hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in the very same way it did EVs.
Wan is known as the father of China’s ongoing electric car movement after he convinced the country’s ruling party two decades ago to bet on vehicle electrification, arguing that doing so would boost economic growth and tackle the country’s dependence on oil imports and its increasing levels of pollution.
During a rare interview with Chinese media, Wan, who is now a vice-chairman of China’s national advisory board for policy making, said the country needs to now embrace fuel-cell vehicles.
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“We should look into establishing a hydrogen society. We need to move further toward fuel cells,” he said, the South China Morning Post reports.
China is home to roughly 50 per cent of all electric vehicles sold globally, and while it intends on phasing out its generous subsidies for many of these EVs, Wan says they will likely stay in place to some extent for hydrogen-powered vehicles. Currently, there are only about 1500 hydrogen vehicles in China but Wan believes that in the future, fuel-cells could power buses and trucks for long-distance travel while inner-city traffic will be dominated by electric cars.
While hydrogen-powered vehicles have promise, high costs, lack of infrastructure and the complexity of storing hydrogen has seen them fall out of favor among major car manufacturers. Wan, however, is confident China can make them work: “We will sort out the factors that have been hindering the development of fuel-cell vehicles.”