DOE analysis suggests rapid convergence of FCEV and BEV TCOs; FCEVs less expensive for majority of LDV fleet by 2040; mass compounding
In 2020, battery-electric vehicles will be a cheaper vehicle option than fuel cell electric vehicles for the majority of the light duty fleet (79-97%), according to a new study by a team at the US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO). However, the cost of the two powertrains will converge quickly, and by 2040, FCEVs will be less expensive than BEVs per mile in approximately 71-88% of the LDV fleet, according to the analysis. Additionally, FCEVs will offer notable cost advantages within larger vehicle size classes and for long distances.
Accordingly, the authors conclude in their paper, published in Transportation Reseach Part C, there will be a competitive market space for both FCEVs and BEVs to meet the different needs of light-duty vehicle consumers.
A common notion among automakers is that BEVs will compete among smaller vehicle size classes with shorter driving ranges, and that FCEVs will compete among larger vehicle size classes with longer daily ranges. A key factor that drives this assumed market segmentation is the difference in mass compounding.
For BEVs, as the capacity of the battery pack increases, an ever-greater fraction of that capacity is used to move the mass of the batteries rather than the mass of vehicle, passengers, and cargo. This results in a nonlinear relationship between vehicle purchase cost and vehicle range. For FCEVs, after adding the basic components of the powertrain—i.e., the compressed gaseous storage tank, fuel cell, balance of plant components, and small battery—an increase in vehicle range requires only slightly larger components, which has a relatively small impact on vehicle mass and cost. Differences in mass compounding between BEVs and FCEVs may also be visible across vehicle size classes as the ratios of mass, stored energy, and range change.
This paper advances the conceptual framework of mass compounding described above by examining costs of light-duty BEVs and FCEVs across a spectrum of vehicle driving ranges and size classes. Total cost of ownership (TCO)—including the time discounted vehicle purchase, operating, and maintenance cost—is estimated for FCEVs and BEVs for 77 market segments, defined by vehicle size class and vehicle effective range between refueling. Additionally, costs of range-related inconveniences are added to each vehicle segment. This segmentation helps elucidate the relative economic competitiveness of BEVs versus FCEVs into the future.—Morrison et al.
|Fraction of LDV fleet that is cost competitive for FCEVs (BEVs) as a function of days of inconvenience per year. Inconvenience penalty is assessed to vehicles that do not belong to a multi-vehicle household. Morrison et al. Click to enlarge.|
The team used DOE’s Autonomie model to project vehicle component-level costs for FCEVs and BEV-50s through BEV-300s (50-mile to 300-mile range EVs at 50-mile increments) for the period from 2020-2040.
The paper assumes a 5-year lag between costs from Autonomie and real-world costs, given an assumed (and typical) 5-year lag time from initial vehicle R&D to the showroom.
The authors then performed 5 post hoc calculations on the Autonomie output:
Net present value of total cost of ownership (TCO) per mile for each vehicle range-size segment.
- Linear scaling of Autonomie cost outputs for 5 generic vehicle classes for seven additional vehicle classes.
Translating the high-volume costs calculated by Autonomie to low volume costs—for the fuel cells, gaseous storage tanks and hydrogen production and delivery.
Interpolating costs of BEV-50 through BEV 300 assuming an exponential rate of cost increase, consistent with the mass compounding effect. Costs are adjusted to reflect real-world range.
Addition of an inconvenience penalty associated with vehicle range. BEV drivers are assumed to be inconvenienced when maximum daily mileage exceeds BEV range. FCEV drivers are assumed to be inconvenienced when daily range exceeds assumed refueling distance of 300 miles.
The TCO analysis did not include the time cost of refueling; vehicle performance; the capital cot of fuel infrastructure; or social costs.
Among their findings:
Both FCEVs and BEVs have market segments with sometimes substantial cost advantages over one another, especially in the early years. For example, a BEV-50 pickup truck in 2030 is more than $1.00 per mile cheaper than an equivalent FCEV.
The number of FCEV-competitive segments grow over time and the relative TCOs become more favorable for FCEVs and the fuel infrastructure is built up.
By 2040, for all vehicle classes except pickup trucks, all but the 50- and 100-mile range segments of the 77 range-size class segments are cheaper for FCEVs than BEVs.
Geoff Morrison, John Stevens, Fred Joseck (2018) “Relative economic competitiveness of light-duty battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles” Transportation Research Part C doi: 10.1016/j.trc.2018.01.005