HYDROGEN FUEL NEWS says Hyundai is changing direction on hydrogen fuel. Hyundai had originally planned to begin mass producing its hydrogen-powered vehicle, the Tucson ix35, by the end of 2013, but those plans have changed. It will now start production this month. The Japanese auto maker is moving in the opposite direction of competitors like Toyota and Mercedes which have postponed production until later this decade. The company does not expect the vehicle to sell well until global markets have a larger hydrogen refueling infrastructure, which it believes will be 2015 at the earliest.

From motoring.au we learn that a UK hydrogen power consortium believes hydrogen vehicles will be commercially successful by the mid-2020s.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance found the US. accounted for 46% of global sales of electric vehicles in 2012 — including plug-in hybrids — while Japan and Europe were tied for second place with 2%. China was the only EV market to decline in 2012. Total global sales of all-electric and plug-in vehicles are expected to reach 225,000 units this year, though that is only one-third of the demand automakers had previously expected.  In January the Nissan Leaf became the first EV to reach cumulative sales of 50,000 units.

Torque News finds plug-in hybrids are more energy efficient than pure battery electric vehicles. A study by the website found not all EVs have the same efficiency, that plug-in-hybrids can have better efficiency in some cases, and that size and shape of an EV is not really a good predictor of the car’s overall efficiency. (Efficiency is defined as “miles per gallon equivalent” or MPGe.) A plug-in hybrid (PIH) refers to those vehicles that have a fossil file engine but are designed to primarily be used as EVs.  Examples include the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius PIH and Honda Accord PIH. Pure EVs are vehicles that can only use electric drive. There is no fossil fuel engine on board. The Nissan Leaf, Honda Fit EV, and the Tesla Model S are the best examples of these types of cars. The study finds that the  Accord PIH can be operated 23% more energy efficiently than the all-electric Tesla and at less than half the price of the Tesla.

DIGITAL TRENDS compares GM’s EV1 to the current selection of electric cars.

The Border Mail says EVs will not solve Australia’s suburban commute problems facing its largest cities.  Socio-economic analysis reveals that people living in the suburbs are less well off than those living in city centers and hence have less income to buy the higher priced and more efficient EVs. Hence,, the people who need the cars are less likely to buy them while they will be bought by the people who drive the least.

The newest most fuel efficient vehicles are more commonly purchased by wealthier inner-urban households. They can afford the car, but have less need of the efficiency because they don’t travel as far. If such patterns are applied to electric vehicles, their high cost and novelty status means they’re likely to also be taken up by this more advantaged group. Any subsidies offered to spur their uptake will be largely captured by the wealthy.

This observation can also be applied to many cities in other parts of the world.

Optimism over electric cars is shaky reveals Electric Light & Power. Many auto makers are now postponing or abandoning plans to bring new EVs to market. “Demand for electric cars isn’t where we thought it would be,” said Francois Bancon, Nissan’s upstream development chief.  “We’re in a very uncertain phase, and everyone’s a bit lost.”

EVs are not going to enable the European Union to meet its greenhouse emission goals writes the Financial Post. European auto manufacturers are on track to meet the interim goal of lowering vehicles’ average CO2 output to 130 grams (4.6 ounces) per kilometre by 2015. But drastic steps are needed to meet the 95 gram target set by the EU for 2020 and the potential for tougher standards after that.

Arthur Wheaton, automotive expert at Cornell University, offers a succinct summing up of the problem. “Battery technology has not been able to resolve the century-old problem of too much weight and limited range capability.”

The head of Jaguar Landrover is in agreement.  See Electric cars not mass-market solution, says Jaguar Land Rover chief in The Guardian. See also the Washington Examiner Lagging electric car sales force Europe to make more modest climate goals

Of the 174,009 cars purchased in the Czech Republic last year, only 89 were EVs. According to The Prague Post, three main factors are holding back electric vehicle sales in this country: high cost, limited range and the still-low number of charging stations.

“The No. 1 problem, bigger than the range, at least in the cities, is their price,” said Jan Linhart, a Prague-based automotive industry analyst with KPMG. The cheapest battery-powered vehicles cost from around 480,000 Kč, while conventional vehicles start from as little as 200,000 Kč.

A couple of sources commented on the slow pace of EV sales in China.  Gasgoo says the outlook for electric cars in China remains murky while Green Car Reports notes Despite Pollution, China Still Isn’t Committed To Electric Cars.

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