The future of transport is starting to look different as we are seeing more and more electric vehicles on the road. Major automakers are actively working to reduce emissions and are introducing their own electric vehicles. However, there is some disagreement about the best power sources.

The two principle technologies powering electric vehicles are lithium batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. Today, most electric cars on the road are powered by lithium batteries. What are the key differences between the two?

Hydrogen is stored much like gasoline is stored in a regular car. The chemical reaction in the fuel cells sends the electricity generated from the chemical reaction to the motor to power the vehicle.  With lithium battery vehicles, electricity is stored in the battery itself.

Lithium batteries are said to be more energy efficient since hydrogen requires more energy to harvest. However, lithium batteries have limited life spans and need to be replaced like a car battery. Hydrogen fuel cells, on the other hand, do not degrade like lithium.

Hydrogen fuel cells have an energy ratio ten times greater than lithium batteries, offering a greater range. For example, the average lithium battery offers about 200 miles of range (with some high-end exceptions like Tesla) while hydrogen fuel cells have an average range of about 300 miles.

Another key difference between the two is that electric vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells take very little time to refuel while lithium batteries require car owners to wait while it charges. However, thus far, there isn’t currently enough infrastructure—or hydrogen fueling stations—to support widespread adoption of them. Currently, there are far more lithium battery charging stations.

Which would you choose—battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell? Do you think there is a clear “winner”?

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