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This Fuel-Cell Company CEO Doesn't Believe in Fuel-Cell Cars

David R. Baker
This Fuel-Cell Company CEO Doesn't Believe in Fuel-Cell Cars

(Bloomberg) -- Fuel cells have no more passionate an advocate than Bloom Energy Corp. Chief Executive Officer K.R. Sridhar, whose company makes power generators with them and tirelessly touts their ability to produce clean energy.

He just doesn’t like them in cars.

“It’s not the right use for them,” he said Wednesday in an interview in San Francisco. “I’m not a believer in it.”

In perhaps the latest sign of the electric car boom overtaking hydrogen, Sridhar said fuel cells make more sense powering the stations that charge EVs as opposed to powering cars themselves. “I believe fuel cells will still play a very important role with cars, but they will be the gas station,” he said.

Chemical Plant

While carmakers including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have for years tried to get fuel-cell cars to take off -- marketing them as a longer-range alternative to EVs and faster to refuel -- Sridhar said they have serious drawbacks.

“By having a fuel cell in your car, you are de facto carrying a chemical plant with you wherever you go, and you’re carrying all the fuel necessary for it,” he said. Cars, he added, are already too heavy and inefficient, and “now you want to add a bulky chemical plant with its fuel tank?”

Bloom makes stationary fuel cells that supply buildings with electricity, counting Apple Inc., Intel Corp. and Walmart Inc. among its customers. Bloom’s units generate power through an electro-chemical process, producing fewer greenhouse gases than fossil fuel power plants.

Bloom’s shares rose 5.3 percent to $13.33 at 2:30 p.m. in New York after earlier rising as much as 10 percent.

(Adds stock price in final paragraph. A previous version corrected greenhouse gas emissions information in the seventh paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: David R. Baker in San Francisco at dbaker116@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Doan at ldoan6@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack

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