Given the challenges we face progressing toward a cleaner transportation future, pitting fuel cell vehicles against battery electric vehicles is detrimental to advancing all zero emission vehicles and meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals.
It is simplistic to think we should just pick one ZEV option, as some battery electric vehicle proponents have articulated. Rather, multiple technologies are the best way to reach the goal of a more environmentally friendly transportation sector. Suggesting a competition between fuel cell vehicles and battery EVs would be like suggesting the wind industry attack the solar industry, instead of both focusing on reducing electricity produced from dirty coal. It harms all involved and, ultimately, shared sustainability goals.
Limiting ZEV choices inhibits technology innovation and consumer vehicle choice and reduces our chance of attaining greenhouse gas reduction goals. Fuel cell and battery electric technologies are both necessary, and a consumer market exists for each. Automakers understand that and are developing a portfolio of EV systems.
There is significant information proving the commercial availability, economic viability and environmental value of fuel cell vehicles. They are available to U.S. consumers today from Hyundai and Toyota, with Honda planning to begin commercial fuel cell vehicle sales this year and Mercedes-Benz planning to do so in 2017. Indeed, almost all major auto companies are investing in fuel cell technology, just as they are for battery electrics. Automakers are projecting that there will be thousands of fuel cell vehicles on our roadways by 2020.
Battery EVs and fuel cell vehicles operate on electricity, share common components and have zero tailpipe emissions. While battery electrics are recharged from the grid, fuel cell vehicles are refueled with hydrogen at a pump, just like gasoline-fueled cars. Fuel cell vehicles use an electrochemical process that mixes that hydrogen fuel with oxygen from the air to create electricity.
While both operate on electricity, the vehicles differ in several ways. Battery electrics have a shorter range than fuel cell vehicles and can take several hours to recharge. Fuel cell vehicles replicate today's driving experience with a range of 300 miles or more and are refueled in just three to five minutes. Fuel cells are capable of powering roomy sedans and SUVs, while battery electrics are typically smaller, more compact vehicles. These EVs appeal to different drivers, depending on their driving needs and preferences.
Both technologies already have a long track record of success. Fuel cell vehicles have traveled more than 15 million miles, and fuel cells have powered millions of hours of consumer driving, commuter bus use and material handling operation. They are extremely safe; fuel cell-powered vehicles have been safely fueled with hydrogen more than five million times. Growing numbers of commercial battery EVs on our roadways are forging the way forward to greater consumer acceptance of alternative-power vehicles.
The infrastructure for both technologies is growing, with hydrogen stations in California and, beginning in 2017, in the northeastern U.S. There are also a number of global efforts under way in Japan, Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. In the U.S., we expect the hydrogen network to expand nationwide and have established strong public-private partnerships to address this infrastructure challenge.
Both types of vehicles currently use energy sourced in large part from fossil fuels, but both are capable of carbon-free driving when using a sustainable energy source. There is a movement toward renewable sources with solar-powered battery chargers available at some sites and California now requiring that a minimum of one-third of the hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles comes from renewable sources such as solar and wind power, or biogas.
We now have a growing number of ZEV options from which to choose. All these choices are consistent with our collective mission to clean the environment, reduce consumption of foreign oil, create a diverse, carbon-free future and create advanced clean-energy jobs. Both battery EVs and fuel cell vehicles are zero-emission electric vehicles that will reduce harmful emissions from our roadways. Both should be embraced as the nation drives toward a cleaner transportation future.