Re: "cell-ing the transition," June 2009
Some of the claims made by hydrogen fuel cells' proponents in the article are inaccurate and misleading.
For instance, the statement that it takes 10 to 30 minutes to change a battery is simply not true. Traditional battery exchange equipment requires three minutes to change a battery, and the most advanced changing systems require just one minute. In fact, battery exchange and refilling a fuel cell can be accomplished in approximately the same amount of time.
Citing 10 to 30 minutes to change a battery also deflects the real issue that true total cost of ownership of fuel cells is still unknown. Inflating battery exchange times allows the fuel cell industry to focus on questionable savings projections rather than the benefits that industrial batteries offer: long life, minimal service costs, and sustained reliability in harsh material handling environments. Companies that buy fuel cells based on claims in the article should be prepared to be disappointed with the limited savings they achieve.
Finally, it is important to emphasize that while receiving government subsidies is in vogue these days, it is a capricious business model. Utilizing hydrogen fuel cells in lift trucks only makes economic sense in a subsidized model. Political winds shift quickly, and companies sustained only on tax breaks and subsidies will be left with economically unjustifiable products when political priorities change.
– Leonard J. Maniscalco, CEO/President, Sackett Systems Inc.