The On the Road motoring column with Kevin Hogan

In production: The futuristic looking Toyota Mirai.
In production: The futuristic looking Toyota Mirai.

I reported last month how the Volkswagen ID.3 was launched to an enormous fanfare and looks to bring higher range cars at a much cheaper cost.

I also told you how the Hyundai Kona electric and the Kia e-Niro electric cars were sold out virtually as soon as they landed in the UK.

More surprising still to me the Tesla Model 3 was the third best selling car in the UK in August. Add to this fact that the Jaguar i-Pace is World Car of the Year for 2019 and it begins to looks like Electric cars have won the war to be the car of the future.

EVs do have disadvantages though. Most obviously they have to spend about an hour being charged to every two hours of use. However, as ranges for EVs get over 250 miles this is all but negated.

A possible alternative to battery electric vehicles are cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells. There are currently three of these cars in production; Toyota have produced the futuristic looking Mirai: Hyundai have the Nexo, a somewhat bigger SUV: and Honda have the Clarity saloon.

These are good cars: safe, reliable and comfortable; though they do not have the amazing acceleration of EVs. They have two main downsides. The first is that, if you can get hold of them at all, at over £66,000 each they are far from cheap.

The other big downside is that there are only 25 or so fuel stations in the UK where you can currently fill with Hydrogen.

But which is really greener? There are arguments about how you go about working out the efficiency that get quite complicated, but looking at the lifetime CO2 outputs of cars using both systems, they are very close, with the hydrogen cars perhaps just edging it at around 120g/km. That includes everything including the manufacture of the cars and the transportation of fuel. However, it is difficult to see how hydrogen cars can bridge the gap that EVs have established: prices would need to come down greatly and the infrastructure improve enormously.

A downside of battery technology is the weight of the batteries; this means that brakes and suspension also need to be ramped up, and ends up with a family car like the Hyundai Kona weighing in at a massive 1.5 tonnes.

Hydrogen cars can work out even more weighty, the Mirai with only four seats coming in close to two tonnes.

However, the company Riversimple have developed a hydrogen car, the Rasa, that is around a quarter of that weight.

It also looks like hydrogen fuel cell technology translates better into large vehicles that need to cover long distances and/or operate for much of the time, such as lorries and buses. China are looking to tackle this at the moment – and where China goes the rest of the world usually follows.

So for the time being battery EVs are well ahead, but don’t count out Hydrogen just yet.