Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has labelled fuel cell vehicles "bullshit" and hydrogen gas "dangerous" in a presentation at one of the electric car maker's new German service centres.
Musk criticised the safety and practicality of hydrogen as an alternative energy source and questioned the motivation of brands like Honda, Hyundai and Toyota that have invested heavily to commercialise the technology.
“They’ll say certain technologies like fuel cells, and it’s like, oh God, it feels all so bullshit, pure rubbish,” Musk said.
“The only reason they do fuel cell is… They don’t really believe it, but it’s something that they can… It’s like a marketing thing.
“But the reality is that if … you take best case for a fuel cell vehicle in terms of the mass and volume required to go a particular range as well as the cost of the fuel cell system … it doesn’t even equal the current state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries, so there’s no way for it to be a workable technology.
“Then putting up a huge hydrogen distribution structure is also extremely difficult, and hydrogen is quite a dangerous kind of gas. It’s suitable for the upper stage of rockets, but not for cars.”
The comments come as Tesla continues its global rollout of the Model S – its all-new large luxury sedan that claims a pure-electric range of up to 480km and 0-100km/h acceleration of 5.6 seconds. The Tesla Model S is due to launch in Australia in the second quarter of 2014.
Honda was the first car maker to take hydrogen fuel cell technology mainstream, launching the FCX Clarity in 2008.
In June, the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell became the first assembly line-produced hydrogen vehicle delivered to Europe, while Toyota remains committed to launching an ‘affordable’, circa-$100,000 hydrogen fuel cell-powered car in 2015.