- The total fuel cell market, estimated at about $3 billion in 2020, could reach $30 billion by 2030.
- Fuel cell manufacturers have significantly improved energy density over the past two decades.
- Automakers and startups say hydrogen could be an effective solution for the commercial vehicle market.
Over the past decade, battery-electric vehicles have established themselves as the de facto alternative to gasoline engines for consumer vehicles.
For large commercial vehicles, however, hydrogen is increasingly attracting attention. Rising fuel coststhe possibility of stricter emissions regulations and questions about battery power have all increased the appeal of zero-emission fuel cells.
Allied Market Research calculates that the total market for fuel cells, estimated at about $3 billion in 2020, could rise to about $30 billion by 2030. The promise is clear: hydrogen can be used as a liquid fuel, meaning it can be stored, moved and deployed in ways similar to gasoline and diesel.
Hydrogen trucks could carry enough fuel to travel hundreds of miles without refueling, and that range is poised to improve as auto companies advance their technology. When they refuel, this happens in a few minutes, unlike the half an hour needed to charge a Tesla semi truck.
Fuel cell manufacturers have significantly improved the energy density of their product over the past two decades, to the point that they are now a viable way to transport heavy trucks by road, Timothy Lipman, the co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University, said. of California Berkeley.
Lipman told Insider that a mix of established automakers and startups are competing to prove hydrogen can be a reliable and cost-effective solution for short- and long-haul transportation as more and more countries and companies race to reduce their transportation emissions.
With this market set to explode in the coming years, here’s a look at who’s best poised to reap the rewards.
DIRECTOR: Jae-Hoon Chang
Market capitalization: $27.62 billion
headquarters: Seoul, South Korea
The South Korean car giant has gained experience in building fuel cells for concept cars and consumer vehicles such as the Hyundai Nexo in recent decades. In 2020, it began production of fuel cell versions of its Xcient semi-truck, which can travel 250 miles on a full tank of hydrogen. A pilot project at the Center for Transportation and the Environment in Northern California will use 30 Xcient fuel cell trucks, marking the vehicle’s debut in the United States. As part of a commercial project for HyLane27 are still on their way to Germany.
Toyota / Hino
DIRECTOR: Akio Toyoda
Market capitalization: $197.72 billion
headquarters: Toyota City, Japan
Like Hyundai, this Japanese behemoth benefits from years of building fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles, and its Mirai, which entered production in 2014, was one of the first mass-produced fuel cell cars. Toyota said in 2020, it would partner with Hino Motors, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Toyota group, to build heavy fuel cell trucks with a range of approximately 370 miles.
In July, along with Hino, Isuzu and CJPT – a partnership between Toyota and Hino-Isuzu – it announced plans to develop a hydrogen-powered light truck, which are used to supply supermarkets instead of transporting freight across the country. That model should go into production at the beginning of 2023.
DIRECTOR: Martin Lundstedt
Market capitalization: $32.97 billion
headquarters: Gothenburg, Sweden
Volvo Trucks said in June 2022 that it started testing hydrogen fuel cell trucks. Volvo claims a range comparable to diesel trucks, up to about 620 miles, and said the trucks can be topped up with hydrogen in 15 minutes or less. The trucks have two fuel cells that can pull about 65 tons.
DIRECTOR: Michael Lohscheller
Market capitalization: $2.19 billion
headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona
It was a bumpy road for the startup Nikola Motors. The startup rose to prominence in 2016 with the announcement of the Nikola One, a hydrogen semi-truck powered by patented fuel cells that claimed dazzling capabilities, such as a range of over a thousand miles on a single fill-up. When those claims failed to materialize, Trevor Milton, the founder, left the company and ran into legal trouble over allegedly misleading investors.
But lately, Nikola seems to have stabilized. It delivered beer for its investor Anheuser-Busch ahead of February’s Super Bowl to show its trucks in action, and now manufactures both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell semi-trucks. The Tre, are hydrogen powered cabover style truck, promises a range of 500 miles and a fuel time of 20 minutes.
DIRECTOR: Parker Meeks
Market capitalization: $480 million
headquarters: Rochester, New York
Hyzon was born in 2018 when Singapore-based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies spun off the US company to develop hydrogen-powered heavy-duty vehicles. The company offers a slate hydrogen trucks of different range and configuration. It has so far supplied nearly 100 fuel cell semi-finished products and has a agreement to build a plant for the assembly of fuel cells for vehicles in Saudi Arabia.
However, this has proved to be a turbulent summer for Hyzon: the company has a leadership change and a delay when reporting the second quarter results after: accusations of financial irregularities, which Hyzon denied.
DIRECTOR: Andrew Marsh
Market capitalization: $14.97 billion
headquarters: Latham, New York
Plug’s main business is building fuel cells that can replace conventional batteries in vehicles, and its customer list includes Renault, the US Postal Service and Amazon. In the latter case, Plug Power has supplied Amazon with more than 15,000 fuel cells since 2016 to replace the batteries in its warehouse forklifts. new deal to supply the behemoth with the liquid hydrogen needed to run its fuel cell vehicles from 2025.
Ballard Power Systems
DIRECTOR: Randall MacEwen
Market capitalization: $2.14 billion
headquarters: Vancouver, Canada
Ballard was founded in the 1970s to research lithium battery technology. In the 1980s, Ballard switched to fuel cells and has grown into a leading manufacturer of not only trucks and buses, but also trains and mining. As part of a agreement together with the Weichai group, Ballard is building fuel cells in China to power fuel cell vehicles in that market. Other customers include car giant Audi and bus manufacturers such as Solaris, New Flyer and Van Hool.