What About Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, Buses and Trucks?

Toyota began developing hydrogen-powered cars more than 20 years ago, but they have been costly and the refueling infrastructure is still minimal. Recent technological advances halved the cost of fuel-cell stacks that mix hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. Toyota made 3,000 hydrogen cars and buses in 2018 and will make 30,000 in 2020 and 200,000 by 2025.

Honda and Hyundai and significant hydrogen fuel cell production. South Korean and Japanese carmakers are leader in developing and applying hydrogen technology. Hyundai announced plans late last year to invest $6.75 billion in hydrogen fuel cell technology, allowing it to produce 500,000 fuel cell vehicles annually by 2030. It expects global fuel cell vehicles to grow to around two million vehicles a year within that timeframe.

China had some high-level statements and actions supporting hydrogen fuel cell cars but ended that support late in 2019. China had around 1,200 fuel cell vehicles on its roads and less than 20 hydrogen fuel stations at the end of 2017. China is behind the United States, Japan and South Korea, according to the International Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association. The Chinese government had set a goal of 5,000 fuel cell vehicles on its roads by 2020; 50,000 by 2025 and 1 million by 2030.

All battery electric cars already had over 3 million global sales in 2019. There was also a similar number of plug-in hybrid cars.

Electic car production and sales volume are over one hundred times the level of hydrogen fuel cell cars. If South Korea, Japan and China can hit global 2-3 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicle production level in 2030, then hydrogen fuel cell cars would still be less than 10% of where electric cars will be.