IDTechEx's report "Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2022-2042" explores the current state of on-road fuel cell vehicle development for passenger car, light commercial vehicle, truck, and city bus markets. The report discusses the technical and economic aspects of fuel cell deployment in these different transport applications with IDTechEx's independent outlook for the future of fuel cell vehicles to 2042.
In response to the threat posed by climate change and poor urban air quality many countries are tightening emissions regulation to reduce the impact from on-road transportation. This legislation is forcing automotive OEMs away from traditional combustion engines and toward all-electric and fuel cell electric powertrains.
Whilst the market for pure battery-electric vehicles (BEV) is beginning to take-off in many transport segments, the energy density limits of lithium-ion batteries means that the range of battery electric vehicles is restricted by both the maximum weight of batteries that can be carried by a vehicle and the available space for batteries within that vehicle. Fuel cell technologies offer automakers an avenue to greater vehicle range, whilst still delivering the crucial reduction in on-road exhaust emissions.
Utilising a fuel cell, which generates electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen (stored as fuel in pressurised tanks) and oxygen (from purified intake air), fuel cell systems can deliver a greater energy density than current battery electric powertrains. This improved energy density enables greater vehicle range between fuelling than can be delivered by battery electric vehicles.
A further significant benefit of fuel cell systems is that the refuelling of hydrogen tanks is similar to refuelling conventional combustion engine vehicles (a few minutes) and is considerably faster than comparatively slow electric charging, which can take several hours. The range and refuelling advantage of FCEV could be particularly critical for the viability of zero-emission heavy-duty truck and bus operations, where there is a high daily range requirement, long operating hours, and the need for operational flexibility.
Click here to read the report.