Are Fuel Cell Vehicles an Unstoppable Force in 20 Years?

fuel cell vehicles

In twenty years, will fuel cell vehicles still be relevant? According to a UK-based analyst IDTech, the market share of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in passenger automobiles will only be approximately 4% by 2044.

According to the same analyst’s findings, H2 engines will power an overwhelmingly higher percentage of zero-emission trucks.

In actuality, the analyst projected that although hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would represent a “very small portion” of the automotive market, one-fifth of zero-emission trucks would be powered by hydrogen. The Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2024-2044: Markets, Technologies, and Forecasts paper revealed this information.

The research also highlighted that, in addition to the substantial impact on the trucking sector, a diverse range of other, comparatively smaller markets, including public transportation buses and light-duty commercial vehicles, such as delivery vans, are anticipated to increasingly adopt hydrogen as a primary fuel source for powering automobiles.

The study examined current global developments in the markets for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

According to the data, sales of zero-emission cars in 2022 were down from 2021, with FCEVs accounting for just 0.2% of total sales. “FCEV cars have not progressed nearly as much as BEVs, despite the advantages of long-range and quick refueling.”

fuel cell vehicles

The study continued by listing some of the main obstacles that contributed to this downward trend in fuel cell vehicle sales. The main causes of this conflict have been the excessive cost of hydrogen, the dearth of infrastructure for hydrogen recharging, and the initial expense of the cars. Significant government and OEM subsidies, which significantly reduce the car’s initial cost and, in certain situations, temporarily cover fuel costs, have contributed to its success thus far.

Incentives as examples

Hyundai was offering the $60,000 H2 powered Nexo in South Korea at half price to boost sales.

Similarly, Toyota was offering its $50,000 fuel cell vehicles for less than $18,000 in California to draw attention to its hydrogen powered Mirai and entice customers to buy one, becoming an early adopter of the technology. Additionally, free gasoline for 96560.64 km was included with the purchase.

According to the analysis, the additional fuel incentive was significant because, in California, operating an electric vehicle was significantly less expensive than fueling one with hydrogen. According to IDTechEx, a Tesla Model 3 would cost $0.04 per mile to operate in California, while a Toyota Mirai would cost $0.21 per mile.

The author of the report said that “a growing running cost makes an FC (fuel-cell) car a hard sell for consumers, given the greater upfront cost for FCEVs over both combustion engine vehicles and BEVs.”

The paper also mentioned how, as 2023, there were no significant networks for refilling hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. It acknowledged that the number of gas stations was expanding at a significant rate in the places where they were present, but it was scarcely a rate that would be useful to the average driver.

The research stated, “an additional significant issue is the scarcity of hydrogen filling stations; as of June 2023, there were about 1,100 stations worldwide”. Also referred that “Despite the fact that this is more than twice as much as it was in 2019, consumers still cannot feel comfortable refueling”.

With governments investing in the development of a hydrogen economy and hydrogen becoming more widely available. The analyst said “IDTechEx does expect FCEV car sales to grow in the long term, but FCEVs will remain a very small portion of the zero-emission passenger car market”.

Based on:

UH2 Linkedin

UH2 is a leading hydrogen solutions company that is constantly researching and developing innovative ways for hydrogen production, storage and distribution. We are committed to promote decarbonization and boost the energy transition.

Find out more about hydrogen here.

Latest news


Before you leave...

Subscribe to our newsletter
and stay updated on the latest hydrogen and ammonia developments