Last Thursday, Green Car Reports published a story noting that the several dozen drivers of Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicles had expressed deep frustration with the unreliability of Southern California's current hydrogen fueling stations.
That story hit a chord; as of this morning, it's accumulated more comments than any other article we've published, with 1,870 now and possibly 2,000 by the end of the day.
That means more than one comment for every 10 pageviews, a stunning and startling volume indeed.
And at least two thirds of those comments are highly negative on the whole concept of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, some of them vigorously and even viscerally so.
The tenor of the comments illustrates what appears to be an emerging fact of the zero-emission vehicle world: Many electric-car advocates disdain hydrogen-powered vehicles, and are increasingly saying so as the first such fuel-cell cars from major manufacturers start to hit the roads.
2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell at hydrogen fueling station, Fountain Valley, CA
While roughly one-half the comment total comes from highly prolific, even argumentative, regular commenters, others have weighed in as well.
And among those who identify themselves as electric-car owners or advocates, the tone is largely negative.
That leads to considerable pushback by the smaller number of devoted hydrogen advocates among the commenters.
ALSO SEE: 10 Questions On Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Cars To Ask Toyota, Honda & Hyundai (Oct 2014):
(It also led to numerous violations of Green Car Reports' commenting code, which forbids direct personal insults--of other commenters, authors, or named sources--as well as profanity. Be polite at all times, folks, or you will be moderated.)
Regular readers of Green Car Reports should, by this point, be familiar with many of the points raised by electric-car advocates against fuel-cell vehicles.
Toyota Mirai showroom and hydrogen fueling station, Tokyo, Japan, May 2015
- The higher carbon footprint per mile required to drive on hydrogen versus using the same energy to recharge a battery-powered car;
- The substantial cost (in the billions of dollars) of creating even regional hydrogen fueling networks, let alone a ubiquitous North American network that would give the same coverage as today's gas stations do;
- The concern that hydrogen will end up costing roughly the same per mile as gasoline, while electricity's cost-per-mile to the consumer is usually lower, and often three to five times lower;
- The belief that automakers are using hydrogen vehicles as a delaying tactic to retard the world's inevitable transition to electric vehicles powered from the grid;
- The belief that "Big Oil" is behind hydrogen vehicles as a way to maintain its market for fossil fuels, since most hydrogen today is made from natural gas; and even
- Numerous anti-electric car statements and advertisements by Toyota, a main proponent of hydrogen fuel cells.
These are all worthwhile issues to explore. What we don't understand is the intensity and rawness of the debate (to put it politely).
While Green Car Reports works hard to maintain civil discourse in its comments, perhaps the fervor and passion of the commenters just reflects the nature of Internet debate among people who've never met.
Or perhaps with a better and lower-carbon future in sight, there's fear that the message--a hard one enough one to deliver as it is--will be muddied.
There are likely other explanations too.
But we'd like to get feedback from our readers about why this issue seems to have the impact of a hand grenade at a garden party.
What do you think?
[EDITOR'S NOTE: We gently remind our readers to keep it civil, avoid direct personal attacks and insults, and speak to the science and the politics of the issue. Thank you in advance.]