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News   February 29, 2024   by Adam Malik

The challenges hydrogen vehicles are facing

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Zero emission vehicles are gaining the most momentum in the passenger vehicle space through plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. But hydrogen could make a leap forward this year.

That said, there are challenges in bringing fuel cell electric vehicles to the mainstream, according to the report, Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2024-2044. authored by James Edmondson, principal technology analyst at U.K.-based consultancy firm IDTechEx.

It noted that BEVs had a big year in 2023, predicting more than 10 million of these vehicles being sold around the world.

FCEVs only represented 0.2 per cent of ZEV sales in 2022 and even that was a drop off from the previous year.

“Despite the benefits of long-range and quick refuelling, FCEV cars have not made anywhere near the progress of BEVs,” IDTechEx’s announcement said.

Leading the way in the struggle have been the lack of hydrogen refuelling 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,” IDTechEx said.

When estimating 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, an FECV, at US$0.21/mile. That’s even more expensive than an internal combustion engine vehicle 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,” IDTechEx said.

It noted another major concern: The lack of hydrogen filling stations. As of June 2023, IDTechEx noted, there were only about 1,100 stations globally.

“While this is over double what it was in 2019, it is not enough for consumers to be comfortable with refuelling,” IDTechEx observed.

The group does expect FCEV car sales to grow in the long term. “FCEVs will remain a very small portion of the zero-emission passenger car market,” it said.

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