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IDTechEx predicts fuel cell electric vehicles to be 4% of the zero emission solution in 2044

In a new report—“Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2024-2044: Markets, Technologies, and Forecasts”—IDTechEx predicts that fuel cell electric vehicles will account for just 4% of zero-emission vehicles on the road in 2044, but the opportunity is greater in certain market segments.


Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have made monumental progress in the passenger car market, becoming a standard drivetrain option. The success in cars is also overflowing into other vehicle segments, such as vans, trucks, buses, 2-wheelers, and more. However, despite some key proponents, fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have had a much tougher time getting to significant adoption.

Passenger cars. BEV cars had another momentous year in 2023, with IDTechEx predicting more than 10 million BEV car sales globally in 2023. In 2022, FCEVs represented only 0.2% of zero-emission car sales, with sales declining slightly from 2021. Despite the benefits of long-range and quick refueling, FCEV cars have not made anywhere near the progress of BEVs.

Toyota and Hyundai accounted for the vast majority of global FC car sales in 2021 and 2022, with around 15,000 sales in each year.


Sales of FC cars globally. Progress has been driven by South Korea and California in the US. Full data and forecast to 2044 available in “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2024-2044: Markets, Technologies, and Forecasts”.

The largest factors in this struggle have been the lack of hydrogen refueling infrastructure, the cost of hydrogen, and the upfront cost of the vehicles. Any success so far has been bolstered by hefty government and OEM incentives, where the upfront cost of the car is heavily subsidized and, in some cases, the cost of fuel was covered for a period of time.

According to IDTechEx estimates using approximate costs of diesel, electricity, and hydrogen in California in 2023, a Tesla Model 3 could cost around US$0.04/mile to run in comparison to a Toyota Mirai at US$0.21/mile—which is even above a gasoline car at US$0.15/mile. There will be significant variations in these figures depending on many factors, including the region, but given the greater upfront cost for FCEVs over both combustion engine vehicles and BEVs, an increased running cost makes an FC car a hard sell for consumers.

Another major concern is the lack of hydrogen filling stations; as of June 2023, there were approximately 1,100 stations globally. While this is over double what it was in 2019, it is not enough for consumers to be comfortable with refueling.

IDTechEx does expect FCEV car sales to grow in the long term with greater general availability of hydrogen in other applications and a push from governments invested in creating a hydrogen economy, but FCEVs will remain a very small portion of the zero-emission passenger car market.

Light commercial vehicles. The story with light commercial vehicles (LCVs) or vans is similar to the car market's, but the argument against FCEVs may be even stronger. Total cost of ownership (TCO) is the strongest driver for LCVs; combine this with the fact that typical BEV ranges are sufficient for the vast majority of LCV drive cycles, and the need for the longer range and faster refueling of FCEVs is largely negated.

The only use case may be for longer-range deliveries between certain cities, but in large part, this would be catered for by trucks. Therefore, the only growth opportunity for FC LCVs in the near term is in regions with a strong government push for hydrogen economy and on longer-range routes.

Buses. Although there are commercially available FCEV buses, most have been produced as part of pilot programs, with strong support from the government. The upfront cost of FCEV buses is considerably higher than BEV buses and not price competitive with the ICE technology. Whilst FCEV buses are viable, improving, and, sources suggest, could become cost-competitive with BEV buses, the great unanswered issue facing fuel cell technologies is how sufficient Green hydrogen can be produced to make them feasible.

Although fuel cell buses are attracting attention, with some countries committing significant investment into developing the needed hydrogen infrastructure, FCEV technology is chasing a moving target, with the BEV buses also improving (batteries, charging infrastructure, and bus timetable schedule optimization). FCEV will find it difficult to catch up. As a result, IDTechEx forecasts a low penetration of FCEV city buses, restricted to a limited number of countries investing heavily in building hydrogen infrastructure and to those bus route schedules that are unfeasible for one BEV bus to operate. There may be greater potential for FCEV in the intercity coach market.

Trucks. When talking about FCEVs, the heavy-duty truck market is usually the one where people see the greatest opportunity. The need to carry very large batteries can limit the overall range and loading capacity of BEV trucks. However, Tesla's demonstration of a 500-mile delivery with its Semi puts this concern into question. Of the on-road categories, electrification of trucks is possibly at the earliest stage, with electric trucks accounting for less than 1% of the European market in 2022.

The operating costs are still certainly important for trucks. The cost and availability of low-cost green hydrogen is nowhere near where it needs to be for the economical zero-emission operation of an FC truck fleet. Overall efficiency should also be considered, starting from electricity generated from a renewable source; with a BEV truck, ~75% of this energy makes it to the truck’s wheels, whereas for an FC truck, this figure drops to ~25%. Greater adoption of megawatt charging also means that BEV trucks can charge faster during a driver’s break, further limiting the need for longer ranges.

However, there will still be long-haul routes and drive cycles that will still be difficult to achieve with BEVs. Daimler demonstrated a 1000km route with its FC truck in 2023, showing what could be possible. While IDTechEx predicts that BEVs will also be the dominant solution in the zero-emission truck market, there is certainly a greater opportunity for FCEVs here than in other on-road transport segments, with IDTechEx forecasting that FC trucks will be 19% of the zero-emission heavy-duty truck market in 2044.



Like any report, certainly relatively long term ones like this, the conclusions are as good as the assumptions they are based on.

On current trends, this is a good conservative assumption.

However, there are a couple of possibilities which could totally change the picture.

Natural hydrogen: We don't know if this is available and can be exploited at scale, but we certainly don't know that it can't.
What we are relatively clear about is that if it is about in quantity, it looks incredibly cheap to extract,
If that should prove to be the case, then it might as well be converted to electricity on board the vehicle.

Kubas -1 Hydride Storage:
This would mean that hydrogen could be stored on board at relatively low pressure, about equivalent to a scuba tank.
There are other possible storage solutions, which could alter the balance vs large battery packs

Hybrid battery fuel cell vehicles as developed for instance by Symbio, so that you use the battery for everyday running around, but simply pump in hydrogen when you are on a run,

Batteries have made and hopefully will continue to make great progress, but at least in their big battery powering everything incarnation they are far from the slam dunk enthusiasts imagine.

The perpetual promise of cheap hydrogen in the distant future is the only rationale for continuing public funding of H2 as a light duty transportation fuel.

In the meantime, the entire world is busy making the transition to battery electric vehicles. By the time that cheap hydrogen materializes, BEVs will have a lock on the market for virtually every form of transportation except long distance trucking, shipping and large scale commercial aviation.

That lock comes from unbeatable efficiency, fungible energy source and low cost.

Batteries continue to get cheaper, and are recyclable, so that over time, less extraction is needed. Not to mention that batteries with 10-30,000 cycles are being demonstrated now.

It seems likely we’ll see a commercial million mile battery well before we see cheap hydrogen.

Vehicle to grid, with a robust, long life battery, creates a renewable energy ecosystem that hydrogen is not going to be able to make inroads against.


The longer range with quicker reenergizing
hydrogen and fuel cells have a good application.


@electric car insider:

You seem to be entirely oblivious that for the last decade or so we have had the perpetual promise of cheap and very high density batteries, enabling competivity with ICE using very large batteries.

Clue: They still ain't, ex mandate and subsidy.

Maybe they will be, maybe they won't

Do try to be a little even handed.

Sensible criticism is one thing, one eyed obsession with what you happen to fancy is another.

All the techs have flaws and limitations, certainly including big battery vehicles.



We saw an article last week showing that BEVs are already at cost parity with fossil cars in the US, which is a country with very low gas prices and mid-high electricity prices (depending where you live). Those numbers don't even include externalities like health care, pollution, environmental remediation (millions for each gasoline fueling station), etc.
The numbers come-out even more in favour of EVs in the rest of the world, barring a few petro states with absurdly cheap gas.
That's for new car purchases only, unfortunately. It will take a decade or more for the supply of used EVs catches-up, which means that most drivers don't see the benefit yet.

That's not to say that there won't be any role for H2-fueled private transportation. This study pegs that at 4%. I think it will be less, but 4% may be achievable if the technology improves by orders of magnitude.


"IDTechEx predicts that fuel cell electric vehicles will account for just 4% of zero-emission vehicles on the road in 2044..."
I predict that FCEVs may achieve a market share in the envisioned time span of perhaps 0.004% of ZEVs based entirely on serendipity and not common sense..



If you are going to cite an article, please link it. I have no idea what article you are referring to.

I do know that far from lasting donkey's years, electric cars are often scrapped early:

' Electric cars are being entirely scrapped for minor damages to batteries, according to a recent report from Reuters. Salvage and insurance companies say the vehicles, many brand new, are being junked in increasing numbers. This raises serious questions about the feasibility of EU Green Transition plans to replace regular fossil fuel vehicles with electric ones.

Even minor accidents can cause damage to the electric batteries and put the car’s battery pack at risk of catching fire. As a consequence, very little risk can be taken with the e-cars once they are damaged. '

Since the main cost of a car is not fuel etc, but depreciation, shorter average lifetimes raise serious issues not only environmentally, but also about cost claims.

Loads of the figures flying about make no effort to distinguish how much of individual cost savings are due to various subsidies and mandates, IOW someone else, usually poorer motorists, footing the bill for the preening vanguard.

None of this is to indicate that I think that the obstacles are unlikely to be dealt with, but claims that all is lovely in the garden are grossly exagerated, and big battery electrification is far from the only game in town, whatever enthusiasts claim, with their eyes firmly shut.

In 2013, the average price of a lithium-ion battery was $780 kWh. A decade later the average battery cost is $139/kWh, which is 12 percent lower than 2022 according to BNEF.

Let’s look a little further back.

A 1 kWh lithium-ion battery cost $7500 in 1991

Batteries are getting cheaper continuously.

BEVs are now much cheaper than ICEs on a TCO basis.

Spread all the FUD you’d like, Davemart, but the market is trending decisively toward battery electric cars, SUVs and trucks. There’s a good reason for that.


@electric car insider:

As I noted in my initial comment:

' On current trends, this is a good conservative assumption.'

ie on current trends likely there will be a very heavy preponderance of big battery electrification.

That does not mean it is sensible or in any way even handed to seek to dismiss all alternatives out of hand.

I then outlined several other possibilities which it is simply not possible to dismiss on any rational basis.

For a kick off, the first possibility I outlined, natural hydrogen, IF it works, would come in at a price in the ballpark of $0.50 - $1,00 kg

At that price it is difficult to imagine why you would mess around with big batteries.

That is a million miles from claiming that this will happen.

But neither can any sensible person dismiss the possibility,

We just don't know.

I don't know, and you don't know.

The difference is that I know that I don't know.

You lose the ability to arrive at a rational asssesment by imagining that you know what you really, really don't know.

DM> At that price it is difficult to imagine why you would mess around with big batteries.

At that price, you still don’t have a hydrogen distribution or retail dispensing system or competitively priced vehicles.

Hydrogen fueling stations cost $3-4 million each. Unless they are fed by pipeline, which does not exist, they have to be resupplied several times per day by tanker truck.

FCVs are still considerably more expensive than BEVs. The high pressure tanks are life limited. The power plant is far more complex than a BEVs, having all the components of BEVs, plus all the components of the fuel cell and balance of plant, which includes thinks like pumps, etc.

Really hard to see how this could be competitive with BEVs, which have the advantage of vehicle to grid applications, in addition to transportation.

In a V2G scenario, the electric utility pays you a monthly fee for being plugged in. Neither ICE or FCVs can match that.

Sure hope that cheap hydrogen is available soon:

California’s largest H2 fuel retailer, True Zero, which operates 37 of the 53 hydrogen filling stations in the state, recently hiked the price of H2 at all its pumps to $36/kg, up from around $30/kg.

As recently as April 2021, it was charging just $13.14 per kilo.

At the new price, filling a Toyota Mirai’s 5.6kg tank would cost $201.60 — around $0.50 per mile.


Last year Shell and BP closed all of their H2 stations in the UK because the operation of those stations was an economical disaster. In comparison to BEVs that situation will remain unchanged in the near and far future.


Davemart, I was referring to an article published last week on this site. Maybe you missed it:
Executive Summary: Even in the worse case (expensive fast charging, cheap gas, etc.), EVs are at most a few percentage point more expensive than ICEs in the US. In most cases, they are cheaper to own that ICE vehicles in the US. You can figure-out the maths for countries were gasoline costs double the current US rate, or more.

Anecdotes about EVs being scrapped seem to be just that, anecdotal. From what I've read, ICEs are more likely to be declared a total loss. They are also much more likely to catch fire, which is probably not a coincidence.
I doubt that an H2 tank would be deemed safe after any damage, even minimal, so I'm not sure what your point was.


The opinions of some individuals are based on an old saying: "whose bread I eat, whose song I sing".



Thanks for the link.

From that link:

' Incentives: Federal incentives, such as the $7,500 federal tax credit, play a pivotal role in accelerating the break-even point between electric vehicles and gasoline vehicles. In some cities, federal incentives can be combined with state and local incentives.'

ie they are at that price after someone else has been loaded with the extra money.
That does not mean that they are cheap, just that the relatively well off people typically buying BEVs have loaded part of the true costs on others.

To reiterate, I think that costs of EVs will continue to fall. but arguments that their true costs are fully competitive right now are grossly exagarate.

I would also note that your article refers exclusively to some cities in urban America, even in more rural areas of the UK let alone with the small cars in most of the world costs will be very different.

You also seek to argue:

' Anecdotes about EVs being scrapped seem to be just that, anecdotal. '

When the article I linked states:
' Salvage and insurance companies say the vehicles, many brand new, are being junked in increasing numbers.'

There is nothing remotely anecdotal about that.
Having worked for an insurance company and also in cost and works accountancy I can assure you that they take their cost figures very seriously, as they are very adverse to losing money.

If they say they are being junked, then that is the case.

Hardly surprising since they are building batteries into the structure of cars, largely due to the disappointingly below expectations increase in battery energy density.


@electric car insider:

' At that price, you still don’t have a hydrogen distribution or retail dispensing system or competitively priced vehicles.

Neither do we have a full system to run the fleet on EVs.
To do that you probably need approximately a charger in every home, and the easiest ones have already been done.
Loads tougher for the rest, including by the roadside parking, and moving focus away from the US for a change, densely populated third world cities.
Plus you need away from home chargers.
Plus upgrades to the electric grid to provide the power, particularly if it is supposed to be largely renewable.

As against that, a hydrogen pump can cover hundreds of cars.


' FCVs are still considerably more expensive than BEVs.

Yep.However just like batteries, costs are dropping, only rather faster in this less mature technology.


' The high pressure tanks are life limited. '

!! Yep, 15 year warranty, competitive or better than batteries.


@yoatman said:

' The opinions of some individuals are based on an old saying: "whose bread I eat, whose song I sing".'

I appreciate that people get passionate, but unwarranted snarks are just ill mannered.

Had I a financial issues in the matters under discussion, I would naturally make that perfectly clear.

I have also highlighted on occasion things like the ludicrous direct air capture technologies, which I would argue are just such a cover story.

But seeking to tar everything you disagree with as self interested is unhelpful

Please stop attacking the integrity of other posters. on zero evidence.

Sometimes people disagree with you.

Get over it.



I think the key datapoint is that you used to work in insurance, but don't have current insight . Here's an article from my local paper (feel free to use your preferred translation app):
Selected quotes:
"insuring an EV is no more expensive than an internal combustion vehicle."
"gasoline cars are 27 times more likely to catch fire"
"assertions that EVs are more likely to be written-off are absolutely false"

Sorry this doesn't match what the "conservative news" says, but that's where things stand in 2024.



Your claim was that the link I supplied was anecdotal
Insurance statistics are in no way anecdotal, that has not changed.

As for the rest of your comment, that is cherry picking.

Sure, fires are more likely in combustion engine cars,

But that simply ignores how severe on average they are,

Most are minor.

Not so for electric car fires, which are incredibly difficult to extinguish.

We seem though to have strayed rather far from the argument, which is not even about ICE versus batteries, and not even about current technologies, but what developments are possible and likely.

' IDTechEx predicts that fuel cell electric vehicles will account for just 4% of zero-emission vehicles on the road in 2044'


Davemart, are you seriously dismissing actual insurance industry data, published in a well-respected newspaper (albeit right-leaning), in favour of something called "conservative news?" You should know what you are getting with that name.

If I recall, you strayed from the contents of the original article along with others. We started-out discussing H2 cars, but that slid into a rant about BEVs.



I have no idea what you are talking about.

My reference WAS to actual insurance industry data, which for some reason which totally escapes me you seem to think is anecdotal.

Insurance industry data is the basis of all the Government statistics etc.

As for talking about BEVs, the article we are referring to is about the balance between BEVs and alternatives, and so discussion of both is inevitable.

I have no idea at all why you imagine that I am a fan of 'conservative news' as my own viewpoints are about as far as you can get from them.


Your quotes from the article in French are highly selective.

It actually says, for instance:

' C’est dur à dire, car ça varie beaucoup selon un paquet de facteurs, mais tu peux regarder pour 10, 15 % plus cher, peut-être des fois 20 %.'

ie most companies charge a lot more, as costs are higher, due to, for instance:

' Dans certains pare-brise, donne-t-il en exemple, un genre de caméra est placé dans la console en haut qui joue le rôle de régulateur de vitesse intelligent. Quand on change le pare-brise, il faut recalibrer le système. La facture est en conséquence, remplacer ce type de pare-brise revient à 1500 $-2000 $ au lieu des 800 $ pour un pare-brise ordinaire. '

ie costs are often higher.

I have absolutely no idea how you arrive at the conclusions you do when your own sources say to the contrary.


Davemart, your link was to an article on a site called europeanconservative. What's in a name?
Your quotes are even more selective. The first says that some insurers charge 10 to 20% more, where others do not. Incidentally, that's true of any kind of insurance. I've received quotes that varied by a factor of 100%.

The second quote explains how on-board tech is a cost driver for all cars. They specifically mention how this isn't related to the type of motor or energy storage. Lots of ICE cars have cameras and sensors attached to the windshield (which is their specific example). In other words, you picked an example that says the opposite of what you argued: costs are not higher for EVs, they are higher for any car with intelligent cruise control (which is a feature that's been common for over a decade).

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