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Water Out of the Tailpipe: A New Class of Hydrogen Electric Car Gains Traction

Fuel cells operate by setting off a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in the air. When they bond, an electric charge and a small amount of water are created. A few hundred cells stacked together generate enough electricity to power a car motor.


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Fuel-cell technology has its detractors, mostly because of the question about fueling stations. Elon Musk, chief executive of the electric carmaker Tesla Motors, has called hydrogen “an incredibly dumb” way to power cars.


A fueling port in a Toyota Mirai. Credit Jake Michaels for The New York Times

I wonder why Elon is so anti hydrogen. 

A fill-up to drive 300 miles costs about $75. Mirai owners, though, get a credit card, paid by Toyota, for up to $15,000 of fuel over the first three years of ownership.

California also encourages zero-emission cars by letting them use the swift, high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the famously crowded freeways. The state also offers tax rebates to consumers who buy or lease hydrogen-powered cars, which in the case of the Mirai is worth $5,000 — in addition to a $8,000 federal tax credit.

That's a lot of incentive to buy this car. 

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