IHS: fuel cell vehicle production of > 70,000 annually by 2027; <0.1% of all vehicles produced; Europe to lead by 2021
A new report on fuel cell vehicles from IHS Automotive forecasts that global production of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) will reach more than 70,000 vehicles annually by 2027, as more automotive OEMs bring FCEVs to market. However,this will only represent less than 0.1% of all vehicles produced, according to IHS Automotive forecasts.
IHS expects that during the next 11 years, the number of available FCEV models will jump to 17 from the current three (Toyota Mirai, Hyundai ix35/Tucson and the Honda Clarity), as more OEMs add FCEVs to their product portfolios. In the near-term, most FCEV production is expected to be in Japan and Korea, but by 2021, European FCEV production will take the lead globally. This indicates a shift in regional momentum for FCEVs as OEMs look to meet emissions targets.
Recently there has been an increasing focus on battery electric vehicles and battery technology, but FCEVs could also play a key role in zero-carbon mobility. We are now in the third wave of FCEVs from OEMs and more hydrogen refueling infrastructure is beginning to be rolled out. This could be a ‘now or never’ situation for FCEVs in mass-market mobility.—Ben Scott, senior analyst with IHS Automotive
Current generation FCEVs share similar benefits to conventional cars; short refueling times and long range. Most BEVs on the road today do not have these advantages.
However, battery technology is improving each year, with the cost ($/kWh) decreasing, while energy density increases. Although hydrogen has the advantage in terms of refueling times and range, battery technology is catching up, IHS said.
Until this happens, the FCEV market has a window of opportunity to establish itself as a serious contender in long term zero-carbon mobility. IHS analysts say. If the FCEV market has not reached this stage in the next 20-25 years (i.e., moved past the early adopter phase), then FCEVs will remain only in niche applications, IHS suggests.
While FCEVs have the advantage of short refueling times and long range, there is still the problem of hydrogen refueling infrastructure. To date, there are approximately 100-plus public hydrogen refueling stations globally.
OEMs are currently defining the early adopter markets, and this is where hydrogen refueling stations will be deployed. Hydrogen refueling stations are typically quite large and oftentimes need dedicated sites. EV charging stations are relatively inexpensive, whereas a hydrogen refueling station can cost more than US$3 million. IHS noted.
There is already a very well-established hydrogen market, but 96% of all hydrogen produced is derived from fossil fuels (brown hydrogen), the feedstocks being natural gas, liquid hydrocarbons and coal. For truly sustainable, zero-carbon mobility, the hydrogen used to refuel FCEVs needs to come from renewable sources (green hydrogen).
This can be achieved using an electrolyzer and electricity from a renewable source (solar PV, wind turbine etc.). However, the cost of green hydrogen will come at a premium compared to hydrogen from an existing plant, like a steam methane reformer.
There is no market today to justify that premium and that market needs to be created to encourage investment in upstream hydrogen production capability. There is currently a trade-off between hydrogen carbon footprint and cost.—Ben Scott