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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



So essentially they are predicting a flop, with their forecast for total production in 2020 less than Toyota alone tell us they reckon they will be producing in that year at 30,000.

Maybe, maybe not.

But the track record of those betting against Toyota is not great, and so far they and fuel cells have hit every milestone target.

The track record of these often industry funded research organisations on the other hand is not great.

The unanswered question is how will H2 fuel stations become profitable. If they can not be profitable, they will not be built on scale.

How many kg does each station have to sell each month to pay interest and principal on a $3,000,000 capex? Add ground lease and maintenance cost. Retail margin on gasoline is ~ $0.10 per gallon. $30,000 month would require 300,000 kg sold per month. Enough for 18,000 cars, 600 per day. That's a $5 million station not a $3 million dollar station, but let's be generous and guess the price comes down that much in 7 years (optimistic). So the FCV automakers have to produce 16,000 cars for each hydrogen station.

California aims to build 100 hydrogen stations by 2025. Need 1,800,000 FCVs on the road in CA, not 70,000 global as IHS estimates. Just to pay for the station capex and interest. Before lease, labor or maintenance. Or profit.

California taxpayer might fund the first 100. But what capitalist would fund the next 1 station, let alone 100s.

Alternately, EV refueling infrastructure costs 1/100 that of hydrogen and that the vast majority will be paid by the consumer, most of whom will simply plug a charge cord into a dryer outlet in the garage. (200 mile EVs don't need public charge infrastructure except on long trips a few times a year).

Bumpy road for hydrogen ahead


This article is quite realistic, i.e. pessimistic w.r.t. FCEVs – 70,000 annual production by 2027, cost of green hydrogen, expensive refueling stations …. It does identify the strengths of FCEVs vis-a-vis BEVs, “refueling times and range”, but immediately notes that “battery technology is catching up”.

What is also worth noting is that BEVs, as well as FCEVs, albeit limited by their likely low market share, would also be able to provide back-up grid power in the case of extended outages. However, BEVs can also smooth out grid demand as well as collectively providing grid voltage regulation.


Tesla alone is going to be shipping a lot more than 70k EVs in 2017.  The Bolt, Focus EV, and other models will at least triple this figure next year.

An estimate of 70k on-road FCEVs shipped in 2027 is hopelessly wrong.  The number will either be in the millions or no more than thousands, and my bet is the latter.  The EV has already closed the HFCEVs window of opportunity.


What a shame all this money isn't being spent on proven clean technology such as Batteries and BEVs instead of trying to keep the oil companies in control of energy through producing hydrogen.


I agree with the general view, that we'd be better off putting the money into EVs or even natural Gas vehicles as they do not require such a huge infrastructure buildout.
By EVs, I mean everything from mild hybrids all the way to large battery EVs.
A hybrid running on Natural gas or some higher ethanol blend would have very low CO2 levels and no range problems.


The average mid-size BEV uses 3.5 miles/kWh or 142 kWh/500 miles. Considering that only 80% of the (new) batteries capacity is available, a 142 kWh battery pack would be good enough for about 400 miles in good weather condition or about 320 miles (max) in all weather conditions.

An all weather 400 miles BEV would require at larger battery pack or at least 170 kWh, when new. An added safety margin (for 8 years of operation) would required another 50 kWh for a total of about 220 kWh.

To recharge a 220 kWh battery pack in 10 minutes or less would require a minimum charging facility of 1320 KW or more.

Both the battery pack and the charging facility will be larger and heavier and very expensive. The total weight of a mid-size competitive extended range BEV would be well over 6000 lbs and would consume more electrons or something like 2.5 miles/kWh. That would required more battery and charging capacities?

Unless 5-5-5 and/or 10-10-10 batteries come the rescue, real quick charge extended range BEVs may cost $200,000+ and quick charging (comparable to FCEVs) facilities may be very few and very expensive.

It is very difficult to compare apples and oranges. Even early FCEVs give performances that the best BEVs cannot do. Of course, your have to pay more to get more!


Here we go again....Harvey, on WHAT PLANET do you need a 220kWh battery pack?

Seriously, stop with the pathological hysteria. You can't find an H2 station within hundreds of miles of ANYWHERE you want to drive it, yet you give H2 a pass???

PLEASE, explain your logic to me. You can charge an EV anywhere you can find a plug. What do you plan on doing with your H2 vehicle in the next 5 years when you only have a hundred H2 stations around the world????? What the hell are you talking about?



You very well know that the size and cost of the battery pack and quick charging facilities snow balls, as extended range all weather BEVs approach the performances of existing ICEVs and/or FCEVs.

Those are facts that too many prefer to ignore.

In a distance future, 5-5-5 and/or 10-10-10 batteries could solve some of the battery pack limitations. However, quick charging 230+ kWh on board battery packs (in under 10 minutes) will require very expensive connectors/cables and 1200 to 1500 KW charging units, approaching the average cost of equivalent future clean H2 main and sub stations mix.

Meanwhile, FCEVs will become an affordable alternative to extended range ICEVs by 2020 or so, specially in (Japan, So. Korea, Germany, Denmark, Norway, UK, western United States, BC and more) where clean H2 main and sub stations have be installed.

With the financial assistance of 6 to 20 FCEV manufacturers, H2 large producers, local, States/Provincial and Federal grants and/or low interest loans etc., 2020/2022 may see well over 1000 main and sub H2 stations in operation and up to 1,000,000/year FCEVs being built.

Brian Petersen

To my knowledge, no reasonable person is asking for a BEV to be able to recharge in only 10 minutes after 400 mi / 600 km range. It's an order of magnitude past the point of diminishing returns. For people with recharging capability at home (and this will increase over time) an overnight charge is good enough, and the Bolt and Tesla have range that is good enough for most people. A 30 minute charge after 200 mi is acceptable to most people and would require somewhere near 100 kW of charge rate for a vehicle like the Bolt or Tesla 3, and that's doable today. Most people will not have to quick-charge in their daily travels, occasionally they will need a top-up (not even a full charge) to get home, and only on long trips would quick-charging be relied upon. This is good enough for most people as long as there are charging stations available.

The infrastructure required to implement wide scale hydrogen refilling stations dwarfs that required to make EVs that are good enough for most people (and you'll never get them to be all things to all people all the time). And at the end of the day, if you want either the electricity or the hydrogen to come from a renewable source, the "miles down the road per wind turbine" or the "miles down the road per square kilometer of solar collection" is way, way ahead with BEV than with hydrogen.

I think Harvey is intending only to be provacative in order to stir the pot. He's probably enjoying the spectacle.


As long as you can do > 70% of your driving on electric, you are OK. Thus, PHEVs or range extender BEVs should be good enough.
People who need really large mileage should use hybrids or diesels.
Most people only need very large mileage now and again and for those, PHEVs or car swaps or range extenders should be enough.

An 80 mile battery and a range extender should be enough for anyone and should allow them to do 80% of their driving on electric.


Brian P., you nailed it. I can only add that once 200 mile range EVs become available from multiple manufacturers at a price that is competitive with equivalent-sized ICEs, EV manufacturers will be very busy ramping up production, and oil companies will be dealing with continuously eroding product pricing, with the temporary side effect of keeping used gas hogs on the road.

Nevertheless, the volume manufacturing of batteries and technical advances will enable cost competitive EVs with 300 mile range and above for those who truly need it.


eci, yes, he may be "stirring the pot", but he's spouting utter nonsense. It gets really old after a while. Notice he never addresses the REALITY of the situation.

Harvey, cut the crap and explain how you can accept H2 with no infrastructure yet criticize BEVs because of what they already have.

Why, WHY do you give H2 a pass? It has NOTHING to recommend it and you act like that's ok.

Roger Pham

Thanks to Harvey for exposing the range limitation of BEV, especially in cold weather. Additionally, many people do not want to have to plug in, and many others have no access tk the plug. Can't please everyone with just BEV. Need variety, need diversity.

Soon, Hydrogen will be available everywhere and affordable. Oil comapnies just will not sit there and watch BEVs eroding their market. They will throttle back oil drilling to keep oil prices up, while investing in renewable-energy Hydrogen.


Sure Roger, oil companies will not just sit there....they'll increase the investment they've already started in natural gas and sell even more brown hydrogen.

They don't share your fantasy of RE for everything. Look where they actually spend their money, not you fantasies.

@DaveD, I find it unhelpful and annoying too, especially because most posters here have good intent and engage constructively. I just don't think Harvey intends to be taken seriously at this point.

Sheldon Harrison

Harvey and Roger state something that I cannot understand why so many fail to appreciate. You must live in some bubble isolated from your fellow humans such that you cannot observe very common behavior. There are folks out there, and they are a sizable community (you may not consider them reasonable) who absolutely will not accept having to stop for a half hour after only 3 hours of driving (200 miles). That becomes a royal pain when one wants to get to their destination expeditiously.

Believe it or not, there are folks who will drive 400, 500, 600, 700 or more miles and the only stops are brief for bathroom breaks, quick meals etc. that are never longer than 10 - 20 minutes total. Personally, I have gone up to 350 miles without a single stop over a travel time of about 5.5 hours. Any stops on such trips are 5 minute bathroom breaks. Lengthy meal stops "on the road" are not usually undertaken as the preference is to have the meal in the presence of the company one is visiting. Think "Thanksgiving" for example.


And Sheldon, you fail to answer a very common sense question: You can buy a PHEV or even a regular hybrid today that will take all those trips for you. So on what planet does the *average person* (not a greenie like most on this blog) but a *regular person* ignore a PHEV that cost less and can use the existing infrastructure...and buys an H2 car that costs more and has nearly ZERO infrastructure?

Hey, you want to talk about not dealing with reality? Answer that one.


I suspect that HarveyD is way up in years and isn't firing on all cylinders any more, plus he didn't work in STEM so he's not able to go quantitative even when the subject demands it.  Thus, he emotes instead of thinking.

Sheldon, I am one of those marathon drivers myself.  I have covered 1000 miles in a day (and been totally wiped out for the next, but WTF).  However, with only technologies already demonstrated, a 200-mile BEV like a Model 3 could remain in motion indefinitely with brief stints drawing power from on-road supplies.  If you had a 200 kWh battery like some of the graphene-sulfur chemistries appear to allow, a few minutes per hour charging at C/1 while cruising would keep the car going as long as the driver could hold out.  Add similar or faster charging during bathroom stops and you've got something BETTER than an ICEV.

Account Deleted

Range is an issue today but it is not the same problem for all people. I would say that 60% of all drivers would be able to drive effortlessly for all of their driving habits with a 200 miles range BEV that can be fully recharged in 40 min. Both the Bolt and the Model 3 is expected to do that. Add an option for a larger battery pack that gives you 300 miles range and 90% of all potential drivers will be satisfied for all of their needs. These cars will be produced in high volume at affordable prices before 2020. Hydrogen cars will not be mass produced or affordable by 2020.

For the final 10% of the potential market that cannot be served satisfactory by a 300 miles BEV the answer is self-driving cars. When cars become fully self-driving and they will at about 2020 or shortly thereafter BEV range and charging time becomes irrelevant as you can just jump into another fully charged BEV if the one you are transported by is running low on electrons. Problem solved.

I do not think 70,000 FC cars will ever be produced per year. It is much more than needed for testing and developing the technology and it will never be able to be developed to a point where it can compete with BEVs or gassers on price and usability. Therefore, fuel cell cars will never be able to be sold in any market unless they are absurdly subsidized. Fuel cell vehicles are a dead end and by 2020 I expect everybody to see it clearly even Toyota.

Account Deleted

Fuel Cell Technology reminds me of the story of Gas Turbines in automobiles. In the 1950s the auto manufacturers spent millions on Gas Turbine research, culminating in the 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car. I really wanted one (actually I wanted a Gas Turbine Hovercraft). Unfortunately, there would be no Gas Turbine cars after that so I settled for a Mustang.
Sam Williams was an engineer at Chrysler working on the Gas Turbine engine. He really believed in the small Gas Turbine, so he started his own company Williams Research (now part of Rolls Royce). Those small Gas Turbines make very good cruise missile engines.
So I am sure there could be a future use for Fuel Cell Technology,e.g. Distributed Electricity Generators or FC Drones. Not so sure about automobile use though.

Brian Petersen

For the foreseeable future, it will not be necessary for EVs or any other alternate-fuel vehicle to be all things to all people.

There are two four-wheeled contraptions in the driveway at my house. One of them is a daily-driver that sees visits to job sites and groceries and the like. It's currently a subcompact car with a gasoline engine, but a Tesla 3 would do the job (via Supercharger stations that already exist) and a Bolt would do it if someone would get off their butts and build public-access Level 3 SAE Combo quick-charging stations, of which there are none in Ontario. Some days I would need a quick top-off charge - not necessarily a full 30 minute charge - to get home. I can live with that.

The other four-wheeled contraption is used almost exclusively for vacations and long trips. It uses twice as many L/100 km but sees only a quarter of the annual mileage of the daily-driver. It would be pointless to make this a hybrid. It very frequently gets to highway speed and has cruise control set for long periods. No point having regenerative braking if you never use them. (Henrik's "self-driving" scenario i.e. rental vehicles would not work ... the interior of this vehicle is customised, there's more to it than just getting from one point to another ... and by the way, "self driving" is an independent function from "rental EV", these need not be tied together)

Replacing the daily-driver with an EV and leaving the vacation vehicle as a gasoline engine vehicle would reduce household gasoline contraption by around 60% - 70%. I would apply the seemingly all-too-rare common-sense factor and call it "good enough".

Roger Pham


Fuel cell is the exact opposite of Gas Turbines.

Fuel cell is most efficient at or below 1/4- 1/3 of maximum capacity, ideal for automotive use. Peak efficiency is around 60% right the cruising power required by a FCEV. Ideal for automotive use!

Gas turbine is most efficient at near maximum power output. Even then, peak efficient of small aero gas turbine like the Allison 250 at 300 hp is only 17%. The bigger PT6-A at 650 hp is only capable of 20-22% peak efficiency. I supposed that recuperative automotive gas turbine used by Chrysler was capable of around only 20% peak efficiency but only 10% average efficiency because the car got only 11.5 mpg when comparable cars of the time delivered 15 mpg.

When throttled back for cruising at typical highway speeds, gas turbine is horribly inefficient, perhaps around 10% thermal efficiency...Totally unsuitable for automotive use!

Notice that in a jetliner, the gas turbine is almost always at full throttle to maximize efficiency. As the jet climbs up, lower air density reduces power output at full throttle, but the airplane can continue to maintain high cruising speeds due to reduced air drag due to lower air density, while fuel consumption per mile drops drastically due to reduction in fuel burn due to reduced power output, and we get fantastic fuel efficiency...but only with the help of lower air density...something not possible with automobile use.


Dear Brian,

You must be mistaken and 200 mile EV could not possibly meet your needs in Canada as Harvey has assured us all that civilization, as we know it, will end if you follow that path!

The horrors, the pain, the agony!!! What will we tell the children????


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