Zero-emission automotive space and fuel cell EV market


In the backdrop of a world that is striving to bring down levels of CO2 emission in the atmosphere, the fuel cell electric vehicle market is anticipated to be one of the fastest growing automotive industry segments over 2017-2024.

With the fuel cell electric vehicle market size being evaluated at $728 million in 2016 and 300,000 units of fuel cell electric vehicles estimated to be sold by 2024, the massive growth momentum of the fuel cell electric vehicle industry is inevitable as the automotive sector accelerates towards meeting emission regulations and fuel economy targets.

The global fuel cell electric market is lately replete with a plethora of such instances that are predicted to become more widespread across the globe, upping the ante of the industry.

Worldwide, the fuel cell electric vehicle market valuation is poised to surpass a mammoth $9 billion by 2024, according to Global Market Insights.

Fuel cell electric vehicles are earning an extra edge over battery operated electric vehicles by being able to generate power through a chemical process utilizing hydrogen fuel and not levying extra pressure on the electricity grid to charge batteries.

Experts opine that with electric vehicles, there has to be a thorough upgradation of the existent electricity grid to support such vehicles, especially because users will be charging their vehicles whenever needed which will often coincide with peak hours, imposing a tremendous pressure on the electric grid.

On the other hand, in the case of hydrogen fuel cell, electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen fuel does not result in the electricity network being overloaded, circumventing the need for large investments in the existent electricity infrastructure making it more possible for fuel cell electric vehicle market to capture a larger share from the automotive industry.

The existence of a supportive government infrastructure is highly pivotal for the growth of the fuel cell electric vehicle industry, a precedence of which is being set by Japan. In Japan, automakers and the government have joined forces in making the country a hydrogen nation.

The Development Bank of Japan is reportedly funding three major Japanese automakers, namely, Nissan, Honda and Toyota to cooperate with gas and energy suppliers and build a network of hydrogen fueling stations large enough to support the Japanese government’s 2020 target of deploying 40,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on Japan’s roads.

Arguably, two of the heavyweights in the automotive industry, namely, Honda and Toyota are at present leading the automotive industry when it comes to fuel cell technology development.

Toyota has dramatically reduced the price and size of the system when compared to previous fuel cell vehicles offerings while achieving highest power output.

On the other hand, Honda has utilized electric air turbo air compressors to pioneer a compact and powerful system that generates the electricity required for propulsion by using an enhanced hydrogen and air mixture.

A powerful and determined backing for fuel cell electric vehicles has been registered in both the United States and in Japan. In the United States, support for fuel cell electric vehicle industry has come from the Federal government and Department of Energy which plans to have more than 500,000 fuel cell electric vehicles on road by 2030.

In California, this effort is most palpable where the government is rapidly expanding its network of hydrogen fueling stations. Mainly driven by the U.S., North America fuel cell electric vehicle market share is anticipated to register a CAGR of 43% over 2018-2024.

In Japan, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is centrally driving the initiative, encouraging all energy companies to develop a hydrogen fuel cell plan and industries including automotive, household and appliances to have a stake in hydrogen industry.

With the target set on the Tokyo Olympics, the Japanese government is investing in FCEVs and connected infrastructure development aiming to deploy 6,000 fuel cell electric vehicles and 160 stations in the country by 2020.

With respect to the growth of the fuel cell electric vehicle market, a special mention should also be made of the fuel cell-powered lift trucks and forklifts, more than 20,000 of which are operational or awaiting delivery in the U.S. and across the world in various cold storage facilities, warehouses and distribution centers.

The material handling sector has thus come to be one of the largest sectors to deploy fuel cell transportation and accounts for a major share in the fuel cell electric vehicle market revenue.

Global leaders such as Walmart, Amazon, Sysco, Home Depot, BMW and Procter & Gamble have all recorded the switching from battery to fuel cell forklifts to be beneficial as it not only increases efficiency but also saves warehouse floor space by making battery storage and recharging facilities redundant and assuring less downtime.

Ground service equipment at airports and large industrial trucks at ports are also making the switch to fuel cell forklifts thus adding impetus to the fuel cell electric vehicle industry.

Ripples of anticipation had been created in the fuel cell electric vehicle industry recently as Hyundai signed a Memorandum of Understanding with H2 Energy the Swiss hydrogen technology company to manufacture 1,000 heavy-duty fuel cell electric trucks for the commercial vehicle market of Switzerland between 2019 and 2023. The MoU comes in the wake of Hyundai having released the first render image of its futuristic truck that will utilize fuel cell powertrain.