The global automotive fuel cell system market size was valued at USD 1847.5 million in 2021. It is expected to reach USD 40,001 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 40.73% during the forecast period (2022–2030). A fuel cell vehicle is a type of electric vehicle that powers its onboard electric motor using a fuel cell, alone or in conjunction with a battery or supercapacitor. The motor is powered by electricity from a fuel cell as well. In order to function, fuel cells typically require compressed hydrogen and airborne oxygen. Fuel cells typically produce heat and water, so these fuel cell cars are referred to as zero-emission cars. Automakers see automotive fuel cell technology as an appealing proposition, enabling them to produce high-energy cells that can power automobiles. Methane or hydrogen is the primary source of energy for fuel cells.
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Rising Fuel Cell System Adoption in Commercial Vehicles
Governments and environmental agencies are passing strict emission norms and laws in response to growing environmental concerns, which is anticipated to drive up the cost of producing fuel-efficient diesel engines in the future. As a result, the new commercial vehicle diesel engine segment is anticipated to experience slow growth soon. Additionally, traditional commercial vehicles powered by fossil fuels, trucks, and buses are to blame for increased transportation emissions. Heavy commercial vehicle emissions are expected to decrease with fuel-cell commercial vehicles, regarded as zero-emission or low-emission vehicles. A significant factor anticipated to propel the market for fuel cell commercial vehicles is initiatives by government bodies around the world to choose green energy mobility to curtail and curb transportation pollution.
Lack of Hydrogen Refueling Stations
The absence of a hydrogen infrastructure is the main barrier preventing the introduction of various fuel cell vehicles on the international market. One of the reasons there aren't as many hydrogen refueling stations worldwide is that producing hydrogen using traditional methods requires much money and produces many emissions, making it challenging to comply with the strict requirements of the Energy Policy Act. It is costly to build a new hydrogen refueling infrastructure (but not costlier than establishing a methanol or ethanol infrastructure). Natural gas can produce hydrogen, which can be more affordable than gasoline. Unless low-cost off-peak electricity is used or solar panels are used, the cost of producing hydrogen from water and electricity through hydrolysis is higher than the cost of producing gasoline using conventional methods.
Advancements in Fuel Cell Module
For many vehicle manufacturers, the need for an ideal and effective fuel cell system has always been a critical consideration. As a result, the auto industry has continuously updated the current fuel cell vehicle modules with better and more cutting-edge technologies to compensate for the earlier models' shortcomings. Over the past five years, many players, from automakers to fuel cell systems and components suppliers, have been working hard and investing in R&D activities to upgrade their fuel cell modules to align their businesses with the growing trend of zero-emission vehicles around the world. Both auto manufacturers and suppliers of fuel cell components have been actively forming joint ventures and growing their fuel cell businesses in the automotive industry globally.
The global automotive fuel cell system market is segmented by electrolyte, vehicle, fuel, and power output.
Based on electrolyte type, the global automotive fuel cell system market is bifurcated into polymer electronic membrane fuel cells, direct methanol fuel cells, alkaline fuel cells, and phosphoric acid fuel cells.
The polymer electronic membrane fuel cell segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40.75% during the forecast period. High energy conversion rates and clean water are benefits of fuel cells. Anion exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFC) are more affordable and environmentally friendly than their competitors. AEMFCs have poor ion conductivity, chemical stability, and performance. In recent years, many large companies have shown interest in these technologies. Buses are the most common application of fuel cell technology.
The anode and cathode of phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFCs) are made of platinum catalyst that is finely dispersed on a carbon and silicon carbide structure. Phosphoric acid is used as the electrolyte in PAFCs. In developed markets, these cells are typically used for stationary power generation in buildings, hotels, hospitals, and utilities. The units have tens of thousands of operating hours and have proven to be highly dependable and technically successful. These fuel cells manage water more quickly than other fuel cells, such as PEMs, and are more tolerant of hydrogen impurities. The disadvantage is the emission of phosphoric acid vapor, which necessitates good ventilation. PAFCs are less potent than other fuel cells for the same weight and volume, and because they use so much more platinum than other fuel cells, they are more expensive.
Based on vehicle type, the global automotive fuel cell system market is bifurcated into passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
The passenger cars segment owns the highest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40.71% during the forecast period. There have not been many developments in the commercial vehicle market for passenger cars. Still, over the past few years, automakers from various regions have begun to place more emphasis on fuel-cell passenger cars. Toyota Europe introduced the new generation Mirai in March 2021, with a range extension of about 650 km. The GA-L platform has been used explicitly in developing Toyota's new FC stack and FCPC. Even with the push from governments and businesses, there is still a long way to go before fuel cell passenger cars are widely accepted, as only 535 were registered in the European Union as of 2019. The penetration of fuel cell cars is anticipated to increase in the coming years as electric vehicles, which once made up 2% to 50% of new car sales in some countries, continue to grow.
Buses are essential to urban and rural commuter transportation as their gaseous emissions contribute to global warming. Due to strict emission standards and incentives, new energy and emission-free vehicles have seen market growth. Quick refueling and extended range are advantages of fuel cell buses over battery-powered buses. This will likely drive future market growth. Hydrogen accessibility also supports market growth. Extensive production facilities produce fuel hydrogen before transporting it to depots and refueling stations. Electrolyzers and natural gas reformers can create hydrogen. Numerous hydrogen production methods are expected to boost fuel cell bus development. National and regional governments in developing economies adopt fuel-cell buses to combat pollution.
Based on fuel type, the global automotive fuel cell system market is bifurcated into methanol and hydrogen.
The methanol segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40.95% during the forecast period. Fuel cells are becoming more and more crucial to the automotive industry's efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Methanol fuel cells are suitable for automobiles and other specialized machinery. The developed metal glass electrode oxidizes methanol 85% more effectively than platinum-based electrodes. Scientists are searching for the ideal metal glass compositions to improve the performance and stability of methanol oxidation fuel cells. The pace of the segment's development is gradually picking up. Additionally, methanol will follow the same path in the forecast period as hydrogen fuel cells, increasing their market share in the fuel demographic.
In order to create a carbon-neutral society, businesses are developing commercial vehicle technology. Pickup trucks and passenger cars may join the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market. Many companies are developing hydrogen car technology. For Instance, French startup Hopium unveiled its tech platform in January 2021, and it was created for premium hydrogen cars. The tanks can hold 6 kg of hydrogen in 3 minutes. This platform can achieve 500 hp, 230 km/h, and a 1,000 km range. After electric buses, transit agencies favor hydrogen fuel cell buses. Future technologies will reduce refueling time, improving bus accessibility.
Based on power output, the global automotive fuel cell system market is bifurcated into below 100 kW, 100 to 200 kW, and above 200 kW.
The 100 to 200 kW segment owns the highest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40.74% during the forecast period. The infrastructure will determine how widely hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are used, and since that infrastructure is still being built, most automakers have not yet entered the market. High-pressure tanks also take up much room to store enough hydrogen for fuel-cell vehicles. Therefore, compared to buses and trucks, there has been less development in small cars and LCVs. However, many automakers have set extremely lofty goals for fuel-cell vehicles. New models have been introduced over the last few years, and more vehicle announcements have followed. Due to the growing demand for last-mile delivery applications, which can only be successful if there is a network of refueling centers, businesses and automakers are working to introduce light commercial vehicles (LCVs) to the market.
By region, the global automotive fuel cell system market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, South America, and the Middle East and Africa.
Asia-Pacific Dominates the Global Market
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Asia-Pacific is the most significant shareholder in the global automotive fuel cell system market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 33.15% during the forecast period. South Korea is a significant automotive market in the region. Like other Asian nations, the country invests heavily in hydrogen technology, driving demand for automotive fuel cell systems. For example, Se'A Mechanics Co. Ltd. (Se'A Mechanics) announced in March 2021 that it would invest KRW 25 billion in constructing a new plant in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk, and the investment will expire in 2027. The business produces parts for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and die-cast parts for fuel cells and electric vehicles. In addition to the details, the market under study is likely to benefit from the active involvement of South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy in this industry.
North America is expected to grow at a CAGR of 52.56%, generating USD 14,645 million during the forecast period. The United States has one of the largest fleets of internal combustion engine vehicles, making it a top emitter. Due to strict emission regulations, technology manufacturers, and tax credits, the country's fuel cell market is growing. Leading automakers and OEMs in the U.S. are also expected to boost fuel-cell commercial vehicle adoption. For Instance, Hyundai plans to build a USD 6.4 billion factory by 2030 that can produce 500,000 fuel cell systems for commercial and passenger vehicles. Due to the widespread use of fuel-cell buses in public transportation, the automotive fuel-cell system market is expected to grow.
Europe is expected to grow steadily during the forecast period. The JIVE program is expected to increase the number of fuel cell electric buses, which are the primary use for fuel cell systems in both the domestic and international markets. In Germany, several large corporations dominate the automotive fuel cell systems market. For instance, Robert Bosch GmbH declared in March 2021 that it intended to develop automotive fuel cell (FC) system components and make them available for purchase by 2022. The business will create integrated systems that combine crucial fuel cell vehicle (FCV) parts like hydrogen gas injectors, air valves, and the FC stacks currently under development. The nation's market is the biggest in Europe, and it is anticipated that it will continue to dominate internationally and in the region during the forecast period.
Brazil is gradually transitioning to green transportation, primarily through battery electric vehicles, which has resulted in a small market for the nation because it has abundant other fuel types. Additionally, some automakers indicate their interest in using fuel cell technology in the nation, which is a step in the right direction for its commercialization there. Brazil is anticipated to lead this technology in the coming years due to some companies using bioethanol in fuel cells; this will ultimately help the market for fuel cell systems over the forecast period.
Emirates Authority has developed technical regulations for fuel cell vehicles for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA), which is anticipated to fuel the market growth. The UAE is implementing policies to encourage using electric vehicles (EVs), environmentally friendly vehicles, and now hydrogen-powered vehicles. Before drafting the law governing hydrogen-powered vehicles, the regulatory body conducted cylinder testing, examined the storage tanks and metals used, and monitored valve safety. These programs are a part of the Dubai Clean Energy 2050 strategy, which aims to generate 75% of the total power output for the UAE emirate from clean energy sources over the next three decades. Significant businesses are also expressing interest in this nation for hydrogen technology.