The global fuel cell vehicle market was valued at USD 1.11 billion in 2021. It is projected to reach USD 38.51 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 48.3% during the forecast period (2022–2030). The fuel cell is an electrochemical reactor that converts chemical energy and an oxidant into electricity. In recent years, the phrase "fuel cell" has almost exclusively been used to refer to a hydrogen-powered reactor. The combustion of hydrogen in early internal combustion engines was accomplished analogously by burning gasoline in modern engines by lighting the hydrogen itself on fire. However, this was unsuccessful because of safety and low energy density worries. Due to its capacity to transform oxygen and water into electricity, hydrogen is the fuel cell technology of choice in the modern world.
In addition, fuel cell vehicles have increased performance, lowered refueling time, and expanded range, contributing to increased fuel cell vehicles' profitability in recent years. In addition, the adoption of fuel cell technologies for automobiles plays an essential role in the production of water-based emissions, a reduction in the size of pollutants, and an increase in the output of power and torque. The rapid expansion of the regional transportation industry has also contributed to the growth of environmental issues such as climate change and deteriorating air quality. The increased consumption of fossil fuels has led to an increase in demand for renewable energy sources.
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Population growth has led to increased pollution levels, pushing the trend toward clean fuels and green technology to reduce carbon emissions successfully. The shift from conventional fuel automobiles to environmentally friendly vehicles has recently increased the fuel cell vehicle market. The market is anticipated to grow throughout the forecast period for various other factors, including strict environmental legislation, the availability of incentives and subsidies for clean fuels, and hazardous gas emissions from internal combustion engine vehicles.
Fuel-cell vehicles offer a long-range, rapid refueling, silent operation, and zero emissions of greenhouse gases or air pollution. Consequently, fuel cells are ideal for transportation and automotive applications. Fuel cells can be utilized as a primary energy source, a backup energy source, and a source of heat and energy in combined heat and power systems. In addition, governments are promoting the use of fuel cells for transportation, which might accelerate the growth of the transportation and automotive segments of the fuel cell market.
The majority of research and development efforts being put forth on a global scale are focused on the creation and advancement of automobiles powered by fuel cells. Despite this, research and development efforts focused on utilities, the defense industry's uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), and portable power generation units have seen significant growth. Governments worldwide are putting more emphasis on using renewable energy sources, which has resulted in an overall increase in investments in the use of fuel cells to produce electricity. Consequently, the increased investment contributes to an improvement in the future and the present growth of the innovation market for fuel cells.
The cost of building a hydrogen fuel station and the related infrastructure is relatively high compared to establishing a station to dispense petroleum, diesel, or any other fuel type. The growth of hydrogen fuelling infrastructures in different parts of the world has been hampered. It is because hydrogen is a very combustible fuel, requiring expensive equipment and adequate precautions and safety measures. Consequently, the cost of automobiles increases, slowing the widespread adoption of hydrogen-powered cars.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are expanding their applications to include heavy commercial trucks to boost their efficiency. For example, Hyzon Motors Inc., a leading global participant in zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-based commercial vehicles, announced the development of a hydrogen storage system technology that can reduce the cost and weight of the commercial vehicle's production. This new technique can reduce the number of manufacturing components by 75%, the weight of the system by 43%, and the cost of system storage by 52%. This method employs lightweight composite material for system metal printing, based on a single rack system capable of storing five hydrogen cylinders simultaneously. Hyzon Motors Inc.'s European and American divisions have collaborated on developing this onboard storage system technology. Due to ongoing technological advancements to reduce costs and carbon emissions, there are efforts to integrate hydrogen fuel cell technology as the primary power source for future vehicle production.
The global fuel cell vehicle market is segmented into passenger cars, LCVs, and HCVs.
Based on vehicle type, the market is segmented into passenger automobiles, light commercial vehicles, and heavy commercial vehicles.
The passenger car segment is expected to dominate the global fuel cell vehicle market. The spike in the adoption of passenger automobiles in countries like Japan and South Korea drives the segment expansion for fuel cell vehicles. The depletion of fossil fuel reserves influences the price of gasoline, causing the government to seek renewable and low-emission fuel sources for vehicles. The LCV segment is anticipated to increase steadily during the projection period. Light commercial vehicles are utilitarian transport vehicles used in the supply chain. Utilizing a fuel cell in place of a battery results in the electrochemical conversion of energy into torque and increased efficiency.
Based on range, the market is divided into short-range and long-range.
The short-distance sector is anticipated to dominate the global fuel cell vehicle market. As the demand for low-emission vehicles for daily commuting increases, the short-range category will rise more quickly than the long-range category. The range section covers shorter distances, whereas fuel cell electric cars cover longer distances. Consumers prefer Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) to travel or commute over shorter distances. Numerous vehicles are used for short-distance travel to reduce their carbon footprints.
The global fuel cell vehicle market is divided into four regions, namely North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
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Asia-Pacific is anticipated to dominate the global fuel cell vehicle market. The key factor driving the growth of the passenger cars market in this region is the rising sales of automobiles in countries like South Korea and Japan. Government actions in Japan encouraging fuel cell vehicles and giving consumer assistance in vehicle subsidies are also driving market growth in this region. In November 2021, China's development and reform commission issued an order to produce 5,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2025 for port transportation, buses, and intercity logistics.
Europe is expected to have the second highest CAGR during the projection period. The European Daimler division announced plans in May 2022 to include electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles in its lineup by 2030. In addition, the massive deployment of commercial vehicles for public and government use in France is driving market expansion.
The global fuel cell vehicle market’s major key players are Daimler AG, Honda Motors Co. Ltd., Nikola Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation, Hyundai Motor Group, Ballard Power System Inc., Volvo AB, General Motors, BMW AG, Audi AG, General Motors Company, Man Se, American Honda Motor Co., Toshiba.