Despite offering the benefits of zero-emissions operation without the range and charging limitations of pure battery electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) have yet to catch on with consumers the way electric vehicles have. That could be about to change.
According to a new report published by Pike Research, commercialization of FCVs is expected to accelerate beginning in 2015. Major automakers including Toyota, Daimler, GM, Honda, and Hyundai have all publicly stated that fuel cells are a critical piece of a complete clean vehicle portfolio. The report goes on to claim that cumulative commercial sales of FCVs will surpass 1 million by the end of this decade, generating $16.9 billion in annual revenue by 2020.
The largest market for FCVs will be the Asia Pacific region, which will account for more than half of total worldwide sales in 2020. The most rapid growth, however, will come in Western Europe, where sales with increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 53%. And just as consumers and automakers are dealing with lack of EV charging infrastructure today, the limiting factor for the FCV market will be the availability of hydrogen infrastructure, which could hinder their adoption.
Data from the report represents a downgrade from previous FCV forecasts, which came out in the first quarter of 2010. Pike still anticipates a FCV production to begin to ramp up in 2015 and that production from top automakers will likely reach just under 58,000 in that year and accelerate rapidly from there.