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The global automotive fuel cell market size was USD 1.07 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow from USD 1.73 billion in 2021 to USD 34.63 billion by 2028, exhibiting a CAGR of 53.5% during the 2021-2028 forecast period. Based on our analysis, this market exhibited a stellar growth of 44.06% in 2020 as compared to year-on-year growth during 2017-2019. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with automotive fuel cells witnessing a positive demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. The rise in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.
Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are identified as the leading alternatives to the widely used internal combustion (IC) engine automobiles. The fuel cell units utilize hydrogen and air to propel the vehicles in an environmentally viable manner, only leaving heat and water vapors as discharges. FCEVs hold tremendous potential due to their ability to replace the high carbon generation fleets with their zero tailpipe emission design. They are also equipped with a hydrogen storage tank that is filled with pure H2 to trigger an electrochemical reaction generating power to drive vehicles.
COVID-19 Pandemic to Introduce New Financial Problems for Small Industry Players
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected several commercial and industrial sectors, bringing to a halt new investments across many verticals. Regardless of the unique crisis created by the outbreak of this global health problem, the hydrogen sector is anticipated to be moderately influenced by the pandemic situation. One of the major short-term difficulties is the significant shortage of financial liquidity among small players owing to the economic slowdown. This deficiency may result in a decline in revenues and working professionals, along with the absence of small-scale technology providers for a short period.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic may affect the achievability of governments’ emission targets due to cash deficits among customers, while environmental and climate challenges continue to be the key threat to the planet in the long-term.
The spread of this disease has certainly helped to bring a green-wave across the world, with substantial declines in harmful emissions from various human development actions. Furthermore, the constant deployment of FCEVs will enable governments to positively utilize this adverse situation and carry forward this low-carbon technology utilization movement to combat the harmful climate problems. Consequently, the demand for fuel cell technology is likely to take a positive upturn following this coronavirus pandemic. For instance, in July 2020, the Railway Industry Association in the UK asked the national administration to augment investments to support battery and green hydrogen-powered trains as a part of the post-COVID economy recovery. The organization has put forward interests and proposals to boost the deployment of low-carbon trains and propel the green economic revival.
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Innovations in the Development of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles to Drive Market Growth
Globally, numerous companies are striving to perform research & development activities to bring about advanced breakthroughs in fuel cell vehicle technologies. Currently, there are a large number of players integrating the technology across their fleets to enhance the power output efficiency of vehicles. For example, in December 2020, Ballard Power Systems attained a follow-on order from a Belgian company called Van Hool to power fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) manufactured by Van, to be deployed in Emmen, the Netherlands. Ballard is set to provide 10 new FC modules for A330 buses with an operating range of 350-400 kilometers and a carrying capacity of about 74 people.
Focus on Improving Hydrogen Infrastructures to Augment Industry Pace
Hydrogen infrastructure plays a vital role in the placement of FCEVs on roads, handling their refueling needs. Besides this, many companies are also concentrating on producing clean hydrogen fuel and building new hydrogen fueling stations to support the expansion of FCEVs. For example, in July 2020, Air Liquide announced plans to construct the maiden high-pressure (about 700 bar) H2 refueling station in France to provide around 20 refuelings per day for long-haul hydrogen trucks at 1,000 kg/day.
Huge Government Targets Supported by Encouraging Policies to Boost the Demand for Fuel Cell Vehicles
Different administrations across the globe have set massive targets to introduce a substantial number of FCEVs on the roads in near, middle, and long-term durations. To achieve these big objectives, regional governments have also initiated many funding and tax-benefit policies to support this huge leap forward. For instance, in March 2019, the Government of Japan announced its target to deploy about 800,000 fuel cell vehicles, along with 900 new hydrogen refueling stations, by 2030.
Positive Outlook to Curb Overall Carbon Emissions is Projected to Add to Market Growth
Stringent measures taken to keep a check on the harmful discharges from various sources are set to have a positive impact on this market. Supporting resolutions among countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions will therefore tilt customer inclination towards zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). For example, the European Union (EU) has enacted the 2030 Climate Target Plan to expand its objectives to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) discharges in the region. The bloc aims to cut GHG releases by at least 55% by 2030 to attain the regional target of establishing climate neutrality by 2050.
High Initial Costs & the Presence of Battery Electric Vehicle Alternatives May Obstruct FCEV Adoption
The ease of availability, as well as comprehensive large-scale manufacturing capabilities of battery electric vehicle (BEVs) companies, may hinder the automotive fuel cell market growth. Additionally, high manufacturing costs associated with fuel cell vehicles might also act as a limitation to their adoption across different countries. However, numerous public and private enterprises are continuously engaging in efforts to bridge the gap between these shortcomings. For instance, in May 2019, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that the global battery electric vehicle deployment totaled 3.29 million units in 2019, rising from 1.95 million units in 2018, observing an astronomical annual increase of over 68.7%.
Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) Segment to Lead the Market till 2028
Based on type, the market has been segregated into Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell (PAFC), Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC), and others. The PEMFC segment is anticipated to account for the lion’s share in the market in terms of revenue as well as volume. Various features, such as high power density, less start-up time, and lower working temperatures, among others, are set to favor the segment’s outlook.
PAFC is likely to be the probable choice for transport applications owing to the significant impurity tolerance, high stability, high power outputs, and many other beneficial properties of this technology.
100-200 kW Segment to Observe Significant Growth over the Forecast Timeframe
Based on power rating, the market for automotive fuel cell can be majorly divided into three sections – below 100 kW, 100-200 kW, and above 200 kW. FC systems rated between 100kW and 200 kW are anticipated to observe considerable growth owing to the transforming public transit infrastructures designed as zero-emission alternatives.
The below 100 kW segment is also set to hold a substantial automotive fuel cell market share across the global market due to the development of new and advanced fuel cell-powered vehicles with low manufacturing costs for customers.
Furthermore, the growing adoption of FC technology in heavy and ultra-heavy fleets, such as mining trucks, is set to augment the demand for systems with power ratings above 200 kW.
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Passenger Vehicles to Register a High CAGR
In terms of vehicles, the market is categorized into buses, light commercial vehicles (LCVs), passenger vehicles, and trucks. The passenger vehicle type segment is projected to hold a dominant position in the market in terms of volume and size, owing to the colossal emission targets introduced by different governments.
The growing preference of different companies and city transit operators for FCEVs in their daily operations is set to augment the demand for light commercial vehicles.
Furthermore, fuel cell buses (FCEBs) are set to observe a multifold increase in their deployment owing to the dedicated objectives of governments, coupled with replacement programs for existing public transport fleets with low-carbon technologies.
Increasing research & development (R&D) programs by industry players as well as administrations to mitigate production costs, along with the introduction of new high-density vehicles, are set to propel the demand for fuel cell trucks.
Asia Pacific Automotive Fuel Cell Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)
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Asia Pacific is projected to hold a major market share due to the encouraging FCEV deployment targets of governments, coupled with increasing investments in hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Additionally, high fuel stack manufacturing capacities in the region, owing to the presence of various large-scale FC passenger car manufacturers, will also add to the regional landscape.
Ambitious targets directed towards the setting up of new hydrogen fueling stations, coupled with favorable policies to diminish carbon discharges, are set to propel the European market at a significant CAGR. The European Union, moreover, has been formulating and enforcing numerous norms mandating member countries to abide by carbon reduction targets by different years, which is likely to favor the market.
The growth of the North America fuel cell vehicle market size is majorly attributed to the increasing research & development investments by various players, along with a significant allotment of federal R&D budgets for fuel cell technologies. Furthermore, the state and national governments across the U.S. have put forward their plans to deploy a large number of personal and commercial vehicles on roads. For example, in January 2018, the Governor of California signed an Executive Order to amend the initial hydrogen goals of the state to new objectives, including the setting up of 200 hydrogen refueling stations by 2025 and the deployment of five million zero-emission vehicles by 2030.
Ballard Power Systems to Focus on Industry Partnerships & Securing High Power Module Contracts
Ballard Power is continuously leaning towards collaborating with other industry participants to propel the development of fuel cells for different applications. For instance, in May 2020, Ballard inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ITM Power, Linde, Palisade Investment Partners, and Transit Systems to integrate FCEBs in Australian public transit systems. The consortium has launched the concept development phase of the H2OzBus Project, aiming to assimilate about 100 hydrogen-powered FCEBs among its central hub locations.
The market has observed a significant number of players delivering a wide range of products to serve automotive fuel cell applications at global and regional levels. Key companies operating in the industry, such as Ballard Power Systems, Hyundai Motor Company, Plug Power, Air Liquide, and many others, are shaping the competitive landscape.
An Infographic Representation of Automotive Fuel Cell Market
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The automotive fuel cell market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on its key aspects, such as leading companies, technology types, and leading applications of the product. Besides this, the report offers insights into the current market trends and forecasts, along with highlights about key industry developments. In addition to the aforementioned factors, the report encompasses several factors that have contributed to market growth over recent years.
Volume (Units) and Value (USD Billion)
Type; Power Rating; Vehicles; and Region
By Power Rating
Fortune Business Insights says that the global automotive fuel cell market size was USD 1.07 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 34.63 billion by 2028.
In 2020, the Asia Pacific market value stood at USD 0.66 billion.
Growing at a CAGR of 53.5%, the market will exhibit exponential growth over the forecast period (2021-2028).
The passenger vehicle type segment is projected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.
Favorable government targets for FCEV deployment, along with stringent carbon emission norms, are the significant factors driving the growth of the market.
Ballard Power Systems, Air Liquide, Hyundai Motor Company, and Plug Power, among others, are the key players in the global market.
Asia Pacific dominated the market share in 2020.
Extensive aftersales services by key players, coupled with ambitious national emission targets, are expected to propel the adoption of passenger FCEVs across the globe.
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