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Fuel Cell Vehicle w/ Hood Open

Hydrogen (H2) can power passenger vehicles in two ways.

  • Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) turn hydrogen and oxygen from the air into electricity, powering an electric motor.
  • It can also be burned in internal combustion engines (ICEs).

The potential environmental and energy security benefits of using hydrogen are significant. However, several challenges must be overcome before it can be widely used.


Produced Domestically. Hydrogen can be produced domestically from several sources, reducing our dependence on oil imports.

Environmentally Friendly. FCVs produce no air pollutants or greenhouse gases, and burning hydrogen in ICEs produces only nitrogen oxides (NOx). Some methods of producing hydrogen can cause air pollutants and greenhouse gases. However, they are typically much less than those associated with gasoline vehicles.


Availability. Hydrogen is only available at about 37 public stations, mostly in California. However, more fuelling stations are planned for the future.

Vehicle Cost & Availability. FCVs cost more than conventional vehicles, but costs are decreasing. Still, only a few models are currently available for sale or lease.

Onboard Fuel Storage. Hydrogen contains much less energy per volume than gasoline or diesel. This makes it difficult to store enough hydrogen on-board an FCV to go as far as a comparable gasoline vehicle between fillups. Some FCVs have achieved ranges comparable to conventional vehicles—about 300 to 400 miles. However, this must be achieved across different vehicle types without compromising consumer expectations of space, performance, safety, or cost.

Other challenges related to FCVs must also be overcome.

Additional Information

Alternative Fuels Data Center