FCEVs to reach 1.5m units by 2030

27th October 2023 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are poised for rapid growth and are expected to reach nearly 1.5-million units globally by 2030, according to the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC).

The WPIC says FCEVs’ comparatively lighter drivetrain, contrasted against an equivalent battery electric vehicle, reduces the loss in load capacity to battery weight.

In addition, the quick refuelling capability – when fuel is accessible – is better suited to long-distance and high capacity-use transportation.

These advantages are said to position FCEVs as a more cost-effective green transportation solution, predominantly in the commercial and heavy-duty vehicle sectors.

For the platinum sector, widespread FCEV adoption would be beneficial, as heavy-duty fuel cells can contain up to eight times more platinum than their diesel counterparts. It is, therefore, good news for the sector that the WPIC expects FCEV demand to equate to about a quarter of total automotive demand by 2030.

Car manufacturer Hyundai has been developing hydrogen technology for 25 years and strives to be at the forefront of fuel cell mobility. This is evidenced by the development of the Xcient fuel cell truck.

The company currently has about 150 Xcient trucks deployed in operations with various partners across five countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Israel, South Korea and New Zealand, with plans to enter the US market. 

Since early 2022, Hyundai has collaborated with commercial and speciality automaker Iveco in shared vehicle technology, joint sourcing and mutual supply. This has resulted in the recently unveiled hydrogen city bus, the Iveco E-Way H2.

Developed by Iveco, the E-Way H2 is a 12-m-long low-floor city bus equipped with a 310 kW electric motor and a fuel cell system provided by Hyundai. The bus allows for both hydrogen refuelling and plug-in battery charging, a hybrid mid-power concept that improves the way the vehicle is charged while also helping the on-board battery pack and fuel cell system to achieve better efficiency and durability.

Meanwhile, furniture company IKEA Austria is turning to fuel cell trucks as part of its transformation to zero-emission delivery. Earlier this month, it took delivery of five Quantron QLI FCEVs equipped with fuel cell systems that were developed by fuel cell developer Ballard Power Systems. 

The WPIC notes that new logistics applications for fuel cells are growing. It highlights Doosan Mobility Innovation (DMI), a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate Doosan, which designs and develops hydrogen fuel power systems. DMI is working with autonomous drone delivery platform and drone services provider DroneUp to test a new fuel cell-powered drone. 

Retail giant Walmart has also partnered with DroneUp, in which it is also an investor, to develop its drone delivery network, which is now the largest in the US. With 36 hubs in seven states, Walmart completed more than 6 000 drone deliveries in 2022, ranging from ice cream to rotisserie chickens and paper towels.

DroneUp has said it sees several benefits in using platinum-based fuel cell technology. For example, it greatly increases drone flight time to between two and five hours, depending on factors such as payload weight and weather.

In addition, carbon emissions are reduced to zero, with the only emissions being drops of water.