For as long as I can remember, whenever anyone spoke of the prospects for putting hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars on American streets, the number "10" figured prominently in the statement. We were always "10 years away" from having the cars on the streets, 10 years away from making fuel cells doable. Until yesterday.
Yesterday, for the first time, 10 became five, when hydrogen fuel cell innovator Ballard Power
That last one is key -- because the fact of the matter is that we already do have some fuel-cell-operated vehicles on the road today. But they don't come cheap. In fact, on the same day that Ballard released its announcement, General Motors
Break out your handy-dandy calculator now, and you'll see that each of these vehicles costs a whopping $2.2 million. "Commercially viable" for Messrs. Gates and Buffett, perhaps, but for the rest of us -- we're not quite there yet.
In a related development, DaimlerChrysler
It's been a long time coming, but we just may be approaching the brighter end of this long fuel cell tunnel.
Learn more about the prospects (or lack thereof) for eventual profitability in this rule-breaking industry in:
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Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any of the companies mentioned in this article.