|EIA’s projections for fuel-cell vehicle sales in the US through 2030. Units in thousands.|
General Motors now expects to introduce hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles into dealerships in the next four to nine years, according to a report from Agence France Presse.
GM told AFP that it has made major steps toward developing a commercially-viable fuel cell vehicle, and that it expects it will be able to “equal or better gas engines in terms of cost, durability and performance” once it is able to ramp up volume to at least 500,000 vehicles a year.
That may take awhile even in an optimistic scenario. Projections by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration see a very slow ramp to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. The agency forecasts FCV sales beginning in 2009 (about 400 units) and increasing to 4,000 units for the year 2030. The agency anticipates a total of about 46,000 fuel-cell vehicles sold over the next 25 years.
In its projections, outlined as part of the Annual Energy Outlook 2006 (earlier post), the EIA sees substantial sales of fuel-cell vehicles in only three regions of the country: New England, the Middle Atlantic and the Pacific.
GM had worked with Toyota for a number of years on fuel-cell research and development. In the latest extension of its research partnership, announced Thursday, the two will no longer share fuel-cell research. The companies will continue their collaboration agreement for two more years with a focus on safety and congestion-related technologies, and industry codes and standards.
A GM spokesperson told AFP that “Because of the advances we made that type of technology [fuel cells] is passing from the research phase to development.”
Earlier this year, Honda announced that it would begin series production of a fuel-cell vehicle similar to its FCX Concept within three to four years. (Earlier post.)