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The car industry and the blow-out of the hydrogen hype

By Sjoerd Bakker

Abstract

The hydrogen hype of the last decade has passed and it is now seemingly substituted by the electric vehicle hype. A technological hype can have both positive as well as negative consequences. On the one hand it attracts sponsors for technology development but on the other hand the high expectations might result in disappointment and subsequent withdrawal of the sponsors. In this paper I ask the question to what extent the car industry has created the hype and how it has done so. The industry's role is studied through their prototyping activities and accompanying statements on market entry. I conclude that the car industry has indeed inflated the hype, especially through its public statements on market release after the turn of the millennium. Furthermore, it can be concluded that the industry has shown a double repertoire of both highly optimistic and more modest statements. It is possible that statements are used deliberately to serve the industry's interests whenever needed. Without neglecting the positive influence of technological hype on public policy and private funding for R&D efforts, more modest promises could serve the development of sustainable mobility better. For policy makers the challenge is to remain open to different options instead of following hypes and disappointments as they come and go.Fuel cells Hydrogen Automotive industry

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