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Navigant forecasts global light-duty fuel-cell-vehicle sales to surpass 2M annually by 2030

Annual light-duty fuel cell vehicle sales through 2030. Source: Navigant Research. Click to enlarge.

In a newly published research report (“Fuel Cell Vehicles”), Navigant Research forecasts that worldwide sales of light-duty fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) will reach the 1,000 mark in 2015 and then begin a period of strong growth, surpassing 2 million vehicles annually by 2030.

The light-duty FCV market will be in a long period of supply constraints until around 2020, the report notes, breaking out only if the infrastructure is in place to meet customers’ fueling requirements. This will require a large investment from government and industry, Navigant concludes. If the infrastructure is built out, automakers will increase their production levels, which will result in major cost reductions—a “virtuous cycle” that will lead to a demand-driven market in the period after 2025.

The report examines three fuel cell passenger vehicle applications that have made the most progress toward commercialization: light duty vehicles, buses, and scooters.

Light-duty. The Navigant report names Hyundai as the clear current leader in pushing light-duty FCV commercialization. The company began small series production of its fuel cell ix35 (Tucson) sport utility vehicle (SUV) in early 2013.

The report also Western Europe has become the hub of FCV development activity, following a DOE funding shift in the US from fuel cells to battery vehicles. Although the DOE has recently signalled a resurgence of interest in FCVs (e.g., earlier post), Navigant says, the US “has much ground to cover to return to leadership status on fuel cell vehicle development. This is compounded by the challenge of deploying infrastructure in such a large geographical area.

Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Nordic countries have less geography to cover and are forging ahead on plans to deploy hydrogen fueling stations.

  • The German H2Mobility initiative to deploy public refueling stations by 2015 has committed to build 50 stations (although it has not yet reached 20).

  • In 2012, the UK government, automakers, and hydrogen companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing to work together to support the rollout of FCVs from 2015 to 2030. The initial research indicated that the United Kingdom would require 65 stations by 2015, and the initiative is now working toward this goal.

  • In the Asia Pacific region, Japan and South Korea also have plans in place to expand infrastructure for 2015.

Given the length of time it takes to build a station—18 months to 3 years—it seems likely that that there will be low levels of fueling station coverage in the early days of FCV commercialization from 2015 to 2017, which will lead automakers to take a slow approach to their commercial vehicle rollouts.

One way forward is for the automakers to take on the task of establishing and operating fueling stations. This idea may sound far-fetched, but it is not too far off what is already happening in South Korea and, to a lesser degree, Japan and Germany. In South Korea, Hyundai operates four of the stations currently available for fueling, while in Germany, Daimler is partnering with Linde to deploy 20 stations.

—“Fuel Cell Vehicles”

Buses. Fuel cell buses are in a pre-commercial phase; most fuel cell development in the transit sector has focused on the full-size 40-foot buses, with the fuel cell providing primary propulsion.

The first markets for fuel cell buses will be the United States, where California’s Zero Emission Bus regulation spurred development, although the mandate has been postponed, and Europe, where the European Union (EU) is funding fuel cell bus deployments. South Korea and Japan will also see development and deployment activity, but fuel cell bus deployment seems to be secondary to the fuel cell LDV roll-out.

The report also examines three emerging markets for fuel cell buses: China, India, and Brazil.

Scooters. Because the scooters use such a small amount of hydrogen, they can utilize hydrogen canisters rather than fueling dispensers. Canisters break the link between the fuel cell transportation applications and the need for large-scale hydrogen infrastructure; scooter companies can develop the transportation solution and the canisters in tandem.

Navigant Research sees this market developing slowly over the next 2 to 3 years, largely remaining in a demonstration phase or in very low-level series production. However, the company forecasts that the market will pick up after 2015, with the primary markets in Asia Pacific and Western Europe regions, where ICE scooters are popular. The North American market will not open up until after 2020, according to the company.

One of the biggest challenges to the fuel cell scooter market will be the increasing success of battery scooters. Battery electric scooters are beginning to capture significant market share and will act as a competitor to fuel cell scooters, especially in Asia Pacific where they are projected to see sales in the millions.

—“Fuel Cell Vehicles”



High Temperature PEM with ethanol reformers could be a way. Ethanol can be made from cellulose, either fermented and distilled or synthesized. Ethanol is used in E10/E85 now and blender pumps could be used to provide E100 for fuel cells.


Interesting future for various FC technologies?

FCEVs, PHEVs with FC range extenderand BEVs may all compete to replace current ICEVs.

Buyers may have the choice between 3 or 4 various technologies to replace their ICEVs with.

Flex fuel FCEVs may become very competitive and the technology of choice, specially for larger vehicles such as long range buses, heavy trucks, heavy machinery etc.


I can see a City/Highway button where around town you go on batteries, over 30 mile round trip you go on reformer and HTPEM.


And still I think much of the fondness that many people have with FCV's stems from the fact that they perceive energy as a 'substance'.

Whether it is hay, or coal or petrol. You have to physically put something into your horse, train or car for it to move.


Or perhaps many people including most of the major auto companies' engineers are 'fond' of fuel cells because they can provide even after allowing for the weight of carbon fibre tanks, the stack and all the balance of system parts around 1.5kwh/kg.

That is way, way ahead of the very best batteries we have.

Maybe batteries will improve fast and overcome the difference, which would take real breakthroughs such as lithium air.
They have in fact progressed more slowly than many of us had hoped, and in any case fuel cells including the storage media used can also be improved, and are doing so.

Personally I don't know how the various technologies will progress, or what proportion of the transport market they will take, and I don't believe that anyone else does either.

If that is the case the notion that we should write-off or downrate the fuel cell effort seems to me to be utterly premature at best.


I am less optimistic about fuel cell vehicles. The capacities of automobile batteries are increasing at a rate of 8-10% per year. There are only a few years of opportunity before the window closes for fuel cell vehicles.

There are also developments in non-rechargeable batteries that reduce the need for range extenders. These non-rechargeable automobile batteries might become available by 2017. Also closes out fuel cells as range extenders.



Fuel cells and storage are also improving.

I am not aware of any evidence that batteries are leaving them behind.

Kit P

“could be a way .... can be made from cellulose ........ I can see ....”

Here we see some of the deepest thinking out of California from SJC.

Those of use who have a resume full of accomplishments in the power industry are a little more skeptical of BS from California.

American farmers said they could produce ethanol as a co-product of animal feed if given the chance. Then they did.


The fuel cell is a power technology that was discovered hundreds of years ago(early 1800s), YET NOT ONE fuel cell highway capable vehicle has been publicly marketed.

Talk about an embarrassing LOSER to discuss.

Yet EVs, selling faster than even the initial hybrid Prius, will be continue being attacked - esp. w/Better Place closing.

Millions and millions of EVs; from model 1900 NY taxis thr forklifts thr golf carts thr ebikes/cycles thr 1990s RAV4 EVs thr Leafs thr the Tesla COTY Model S have operated and will continue operating, transporting, and succeeding.

There are also developments in non-rechargeable batteries that reduce the need for range extenders.

If you are talking about e.g. metal-air primary cells, they are also essentially fuel cells using a different fuel.

One of the biggest challenges to the fuel cell scooter market will be the increasing success of battery scooters. Battery electric scooters are beginning to capture significant market share...

Batteries have gotten there firstest, and have the mostest in market share for at least the next several years.  This is likely to produce investments in infrastructure, and who's going to want to buy hydrogen canisters when the scooter racks are wired for charging?  Hydrogen's only advantage will be at extended range, and the ICE will still be an option (likely a cheaper option when the HFC remains a low-volume item).

Hydrogen remains a solution in search of a problem.


All of this becomes obsolete if Rossi's E-Cat is real.


Lucas writes the most cogent statement. One the sages, old schoolers, skeptics and wind/solarists are loathe to hear. But the group of 18 scientists and technicians that documented the E-CatHT2 have a fairly bullet proof paper that has deflected all rational critique (ie not Motl.)


Now either NASA, DARPA, Italian ENEA, U Missouri, SPAWAR, NRL, Stanford Research Inst, Svedberg Lab, University Upsalla, Royal Inst. Technology Sweden, University Bologna, MIT, Purdue, LANL, etc - are IN ON A CONSPIRACY with Rossi... or we have an entirely new form of energy. And Swedish energy consortium Elforsk AB is commercializing it.

Thomas Lankester

Fundamentally this comes down to the energy supply chain and the en route energy conversion efficiencies. We are struggling to replace fossil fuels as it is so every kW of renewable (or nuke) is precious.

A hydrogen fuel supply chain involves multiple additional steps with conversion losses. Ethanol (or other bio-fuel) has a niche role to play as SJC suggested or for jet fuel where electricity is not an option. Ultimately though, the sunlight to biomass energy conversion rate (3%?) then fuel cell biofuel to electricity conversion (70%, maybe) is not good enough to power the entire car fleet.


Two million vehicles per year by 2030. An absolutely ridiculous statement to make. No one can predict that far ahead, other than that a decent article.


They are predicting small scooters with canisters of H2. The cost would have to compete with two cycle scooters and I don't see that right now.


"All of this becomes obsolete if Rossi's E-Cat is real."

"Figures don't lie, but liars figure."

With all that crosses the internet - 'real' means publicly marketed for use and evaluation.

All the "breakthroughs" - FCs, "10X better batteries", E-cat, EEStor, sugar plums, .. have to face public sales or be relegated to BS.


Rossi will sell you a 1 KW heater right now for only $2 million...


@Lucas, economically, @ $2 million for a ~$20 space heater output, I know where he can put the check.


Reel, Rossi's e-cat is not a religion. It doesn't require faith or sermons to convince us. Just show us one that works, and we'll all go buy it.

Until then, coule we stick with real world stuff that have enough problems to solve: batteries, fuel cells, bio-fuels or even just getting more out of our fossil fuels.


Navigant Consulting is a for-profit management consulting company that is traded on the NYSE. They have previously published promotional materials for natural gas interests. In this piece they call themselves Navigant Research, but they are just Navigant Consulting.

If fuel cells get deployed, then natural gas is likely the energy source to be tapped. This would be very profitable for natural gas companies, but not so good for us who use natural gas for cooking, heating, or electricity.


Deployment of fuel cells in vehicles both implies and would drive reductions in cost of the PEM fuel cells used.

These are then nearly identical to those normally used as home fuel cells, mainly in Japan but also in Germany, although of course they also have reformers for the natural gas.

The cost reduction means that these could then be widespread, and they utilise the otherwise waste heat to heat water domestically and in factories.

That means in countries like Japan a saving of around 30% in NG consumed as against using it to generate electricity centrally.

Likely the savings would be greater in the US as relatively cheap NG means that it is typically not burnt so efficiently, and electric transmission in the US is inefficient losing up to 7%(!) of the power.

Loses transmitting natural gas are in contrast minimal, so that around 30% plus of gas burn would be freed up for other purposes such as powering fuel cell cars.

That is before other means of production such as tapping methane from landfills is considered, and aside from the great possibilities to combine solar with fuel cells in US homes.


....tapping methane from landfills (garbage dumps) may soon be past history... A group of young engineers have produced a washing machine size sealed, efficient converter to transform domestic waste into methane without emissions or environmental impacts.

The average American family produces almost enough waste to produce most of the methane required for the family FCEV and the house.

Restaurants, hotels, apartment buildings, factories, offices and other organisations would used large units. The methane produced could be stored for their HVAC system.

No more smelly landfills?


" It doesn't require faith or sermons to convince us. Just show us one that works, and we'll all go buy it. "

Dave, how is it you speak for everyone here?? Do you subscribe to that alien concept that "We are all one?"

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