GM to Introduce Fuel Cell Car at CES

Fuel Cell Cars: Helping or Hype?

Despite the buzz surrounding the release, environmentalists say that when car companies tout fuel cell concept cars as part of their strategy to help the environment and fight global warming, they fool themselves and the American public.

"When a company touts their fuel cell as the example of their green car, that is a PR stunt," David Willett, a spokesman for the Sierra Club, told ABCNEWS.com. "Because that's not a green car for right now, that's a green car for several decades for now."

Many car companies developed and showcased fuel cell cars at auto shows in 2007, including Honda.

While in theory hydrogen fuel cell cars are some of the most environmentally friendly vehicles available, emitting only water as a waste product, experts say that the technology is years away from being available nationwide to mainstream America. There are only a handful of hydrogen filling stations in the United States and no centralized method of distribution.

Cadillac's general manager Jim Taylor readily acknowledged these challenges, but maintains that Americans could realistically see hydrogen cars on the road in force by the beginning of the next decade.

"The challenge is the infrastructure on the government and the state-side to kind of hold hands with the industry that produces the hydrogen," Taylor said. "From a technical standpoint though, it isn't challenging. It's easy to do. … It's a little bit of a Catch-22."

But it's for precisely that reason that environmental groups like the Sierra Club contend that car companies could be researching more realistic forms of green technology that would get on the road faster.

"Fuel cells are great and they will be a part of our economy in the future," Willett said. "It's a little disingenuous. There's more that the U.S. companies could be doing right now that we don't have to wait decades to enjoy."

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