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Detroit Readies Hydrogen-Car Push
CNBC.com | June 13, 2011 | 10:00 AM EDT

Automakers are gearing up for mass-market production of hydrogen-powered cars starting in 2015, but the fuel cell technology has plenty of skeptics, including President Obama.

After being championed by former President George W. Bush as a pollution-free solution for weaning America off its dependence on foreign oil, the vehicles are in danger of losing research and development funding under the Obama administration, which argues that plug-in electric cars are a more practical bet.

However, major automakers and other proponents of hydrogen-fueled cars managed to thwart similar attempts to cut funding for programs for fuel-cell research in 2009 and hope to do so again.

Nevertheless, they're worried about the signal the Obama administration’s stance is sending to the marketplace and to investors about the vehicles, which create electric power from hydrogen and emit nothing but clean water from their tailpipes.

“We’re prepared to make thousands of these cars,” says Mike O’Brien, vice president of product planning at Hyundai Motor America. “But it really comes down to how many fuel stations there are at that point. It’s a chicken and egg story for us.”

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