The sales of hydrogen fuel cell cars have stalled mainly from 2021 onwards, but does this mean there is no market for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in the future, and what is required to make them successful?
IDTechEx’s report, “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2024-2044: Markets, Technologies, and Forecasts”, is sceptical about the validity of FCEVs becoming a mass market solution but still sees a limited opportunity under certain circumstances and for targeted applications. Thanks to the tiny market now, this results in over 60-fold growth for FCEVs over the next 20 years.
The Problems With FCEVs
FCEVs make little sense in the automotive market from a physics and consumer standpoint.
The significant advantage for FCEVs over battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is the increased potential range. However, most BEV models can meet the regular range requirements of most people, and for longer journeys, the public charging network is constantly improving.
While there is a valid argument that not everyone has access to home charging, this situation is steadily improving, and the same argument can be made for FCEVs; very few stations are in operation, making refuelling difficult.
Hydrogen fuel is also costly. Using IDTechEx estimates for the approximate costs of diesel, electricity, and hydrogen in California in 2023, a Tesla Model 3 could cost around US$0.04/mile to run in comparison to a Toyota Mirai at US$0.21/mile, which is even above a gasoline/petrol car at US$0.15/mile. While this will vary by region, hydrogen cost must be nearer US$3/kg to compete with BEVs.