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IDTechEx: market value of on-road fuel-cell vehicles to grow to $160B in 2042; 23.9% CAGR over 20 years

IDTechEx’s analysis in their new report, “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2022-2042”, forecasts the market value of on-road fuel cell vehicles will grow to $160 billion in 2042 at a CAGR of 23.9% over the 20-year forecast period.

The effort to decarbonize on-road vehicles is undoubtedly being led by BEVs; however serious concern remains around whether BEV solutions can deliver the necessary duty cycle for those use cases that require significant range, brief downtime, and high operational flexibility—long-haul trucking and high-milage city bus operations, for example.

In such applications, a huge 500+ kWh battery will be required to reliably deliver 350+ km of range on a single charge, and full recharging, even with 350kW ultra-fast chargers, will take hours. This becomes an even greater challenge in a depot situation, where megawatts of power are required. Hyundai’s XCIENT fuel cell heavy-duty truck delivers ~400km of range, with a 73kWh Li-ion battery and hydrogen fuel cell system, requiring less than 20 minutes to refuel.

The growing momentum pushing a rapid transition to zero-emission vehicles, combined with a genuine need for range comparable to diesel powertrains and quick refueling, means massive automotive players like Toyota, Hyundai, GM, and Daimler are continuing to pump millions into improving fuel cell system technology and bringing down costs.

Major automotive markets including Japan, Korea, China, Germany, and California are planning for the significant deployment of fuel cell vehicles (FCEV).

Germany has already built around 100 hydrogen refueling stations (HRS), offering a capacity to support 40,000 passenger cars, though their current fleet is less than 1,000. Germany is providing a testbed for FCEV in Europe and will challenge the assertion that the lack of hydrogen infrastructure is to blame for the lack of FCEV uptake. Relatively small fleets of heavy-duty FCEV could provide sufficient hydrogen demand to viably operate an HRS.

Versus cars, the value proposition for fuel cell trucks and buses is stronger, and IDTechEx does not expect fuel cell cars to be a commercial success comparative to battery-electric ones. However, the scale of the car market and substantial support for the development of a wider hydrogen economy by governments and companies in key regions mean IDTechEx forecast that, in 2042, 60.3% of on-road FCEV market revenue will be from the passenger car market.

Fuel cell makers will benefit from the volume of the car market to drive down costs for other sectors where the technology is more critical.

Indeed, FCEV deployment faces considerable challenges, including decreasing the cost of fuel cell system components to reduce the upfront vehicle cost, while rolling out sufficient hydrogen refueling infrastructure to make driving a FCEV viable. Also essential to the legitimacy of FCEV as a low-carbon emission solution will be the availability of cheap green hydrogen, produced by the electrolysis of water using renewable electricity, which analysis in the IDTechEx report highlights, will be vital to FCEVs delivering the environmental credentials on which they are being sold.

Cheap grey hydrogen generated from fossil fuels makes little sense as a low emission transport fuel because the well-to-wheel emission footprint of a FCEV using grey H2 offers only a marginal CO2 saving versus modern diesel vehicles.

Fuel Cell Promo Image

IDTechEx estimate of gCO2/km emission for different truck powertrains. Source: IDTechEx

The new IDTechEx report, “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2022-2042”, explores the current state of fuel cell vehicle development for passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, trucks, and city buses. The report discusses the technical and economic aspects of fuel cell deployment in these different transport applications and presents IDTechEx’s independent 20-year outlook for the future of fuel cell vehicles.

This report is part of IDTechEx’s broader mobility research portfolio, tracking the adoption of electric vehicles, battery trends, autonomy, and demand across land, sea, and air.



Another nail in the coffin of the 'against hydrogen in principle' lunacy.

And something like 500MT of ammonia for fertilizer will be needed every year by 2050 anyway, so if it is impossible to produce low carbon hydrogen for that which folk go running around claiming or implying, then the notion of keeping emissions within bounds is dead anyway.


We need hydrogen especially for ammonia and other chemical production processes. Maybe we will need hydrogen for heavy duty fuel cell vehicles including long range trucking and intercity buses. However, as the authors note: IDTechEx does not expect fuel cell cars to be a commercial success comparative to battery-electric ones. This would also be the case for most transit buses and most local delivery and drayage trucking.

They seem to a bit over optimistic about the green house gas reduction using "blue" hydrogen which seems to mostly be a scam pushed by the current gas and oil industry. The following link has what is a more clear-eyed look at blue hydrogen. Basically, you are probably better off in terms of both cost and green house gas produced to just burn the methane or natural gas in an IC engine

Also the article above has the green house gas emissons for BEV vehicles in Germany relatively high compared to France which is because the French grid is mostly powered by nuclear power while Germany is burning more coal and natural gas. But producing "green" hydrogen also has the same problem if the grid is not "green". Even if you argue that you are using "green" power to make your "green" hydrogen, you are using power that will have to replaced by burning fossil fuels and BEVs are more efficient than FCEVs. as usual, no free lunch!



Yep, that is a fair summary of their view.

It is unlikely to be the view of the two companies leading in fuel cell light transport though, Toyota and Hyundai, who reckon that they can bring the cost down to comparability with BEVs by 2030 in the case of Hyundai, and to the same premium as the rest of their hybrids in the case of Toyota.

With hundreds of hydrogen filling stations going in around the world, including for instance a doubling of the Californian network, and sales of FCEVs rising sharply albeit from a low base, it would seem premature to write them off.

And the advantages of FCEVs in cold climates or where it is not easy to charge at home are worth bearing in mind.

But in my view the real advantage of fuel cells is in heavy transport, which is quite enough to get the network massively expanded, then we will see where we are for light transport.


H2 has its place; but, it's not in light duty applications, i.e., automobiles. From my reading, hydrogen powered aircraft and bunker-burning huge ships appear to be the most compelling.

There is a place for oil and gas in the future; but, not as it is today using fossil fuel feedstock for the intensely polluting process of reforming hydrogen. And, it is sad that this current grossly dirty process produces 90% of the H2. The petrochemical industry and plastic producers come to mind for the ongoing use of fossil fuel.

The critics of heavy duty battery transportation point toward a long charging cycle for semi-trucks as a reason to use H2 instead of battery power; It's interesting that Tesla is making large of the fact it is installing a one MW test facility at the location where they will be producing their electric semis. Speculation has it, they are working on fast-charging the large batteries in their semis. It would appear there few problems the proponents of battery-driven land vehicles cannot overcome given time and the good growth expected in the battery industry



Unfortunately the SUV format is increasingly popular, and at that size and low aerodynamic efficiency the far greater cheap storage capacities of hydrogen really start kicking in.

And even in smaller sizes, it uses way less battery capacity and weight to have an FCEV range extender, which also keeps the battery at the optimum temperature.

Big battery BEVs are not the only way to ZEV long range transport.

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