Want to buy hydrogen fuel cell technology on the cheap? Head to Canada! Sure, you could cross the border and visit MIT, but you know those U.S. prices will be baked on like brown sugar on a ham.
Volkswagen is one of the world’s largest automakers, at some moments the largest depending on how many cars Toyota is recalling. If and when we switch from gasoline to hydrogen, it will be a very fast transition, which is why VW is working so hard to get its hydrogen cars ready.
To that end, Volkswagen recently bought $80 million of hydrogen fuel cell patents from Canadian company Ballard Power Systems. Ballard helped VW produce the hydrogen Audi A7 that was appeared at press demonstrations last year (Volkswagen owns Audi).
The benefits of hydrogen are numerous: zero polluting emissions, low cost at the pump, and a near limitless supply (hydrogen is one of the most common elements in existence, unlike crude oil).
The hurdle it has to overcome is filling stations. Those utterly normal places that we take for granted regarding our gasoline cars are the great obstacle to automakers switching over to hydrogen. Put simply, it would cost a lot of money to put a hydrogen pump wherever gasoline is sold, and no one wants to shoulder the cost alone.
So that will take a while to iron out. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that at least some of the hydrogen patents VW bought from Ballard were actually sold to Ballard just 10 months ago by a company named United Technologies Corp. For $80 million, that investment by Ballard really paid off.
United Technologies is a massive corporation and defense contractor based in Connecticut. So it might be that even when you go to Canada, you’re still paying U.S. prices.
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