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How does platinum affect the cost of a hydrogen vehicle?

GM Fuel CellsSome of the vehicles on U.S. roads in 2010 use as much as $4,300 worth of platinum per vehicle. The goal, which automakers say is attainable, is about $500.

Platinum is used to make fuel cells. It's a metal that makes the reaction which generates electricity more efficient. It's also a costly part of a fuel cell. So, the less platinum used, the cheaper the fuel cell can be and the lower the price might be for you to buy a fuel cell or fuel cell vehicle.

In a vehicle, the fuel cell in GM's Project Driveway test fleet (the ones based on the Chevy Equinox, which has a 93 kW fuel cell in it), uses 80 grams of platinum. IN the vehicles planned for production in 2015, the fuel cells will use about 26 grams. GM's goal, according to Charles Freese, executive director of GM's global fuel cell activities: less than 10 grams. Other automakers have similar goals for their fuel cells.

What does this mean in relationship to the cost of making a vehicle?
  • 1 ounce of platinum = $1,524 (on June 8, 2010)
  • 1 ounce = 28.35 grams
  • 1 gram platinum = $53.76
  • 80 grams = $4,301
  • 26 grams = $1,398 (68% less)
  • 10 grams = $538 (another 62% less, almost 90% overall)
Source: National Hydrogen Association

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