IHS: Global Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Market To Exceed 70,000 by 2027

MAY 10 2016 BY MARK KANE 73

Toyota Mirai

Toyota Mirai

IHS Automotive in its new report on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, forecasted that in around 11 years, by ~2027, the market for FCEVs (or FCV) will reach more than 70,000 vehicles annually.

To be honest, it doesn’t sound like good news for all those standing behind FCEV technology, and the forecast for 70k FCVs is about ~6,930,000 units behind the average plug-in vehicles estimates for 2027.  Although that 100:1 ratio would be superior to 2015.

Currently, single pure electric manufacturers like Tesla Motors have already cumulative passed that “future annual level” (70k) of fuel cell vehicles, and will shortly also reach that run rate on an annual level.

There are now three major offerings of FCEVs on the market (the Hyundai ix35/Tucson Fuel Cell, Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity Fuel Cell), but availability is strictly limited to select markets, low volume offering, and sometimes lease-only deals.

IHS expects that by 2027 there will be 17 FCEV models on the market – about half the current number of BEV/PHEVs available in US and Europe today.

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell

Ben Scott, senior analyst with IHS Automotive said the time is now for fuel cell technology to take-off or go away forever as anything other than a niche offering:

“Recently there has been an increasing focus on battery electric vehicles and battery technology, but FCEVs could also play a key role in zero-carbon mobility. We are now in the third wave of FCEVs from OEMs and more Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure is beginning to be rolled out,” he said.  “This could be a ‘now or never’ situation for FCEVs in mass market mobility.”

The difficult problem of FCEV commercialization becomes even more difficult when we add in the non-existing refueling infrastructure. Today, a decent-sized hydrogen station, capable of fulfilling mass demand can cost over $3 million.

According to IHS, hydrogen itself will be more expensive as its production shifts from fossil fuels (96% of production today) to renewable sources. In simple words, there is risk that the cost of hydrogen to drive each mile could be higher than even conventional fuel.

OEM Offerings

There are only three FCEVs currently available for consumers to purchase/lease; Toyota Mirai, Hyundai ix35/Tucson and the Honda Clarity, all of which are only available in select markets. However, during the next 11 years, the number of available FCEV models is expected to jump to 17, as more OEMs add FCEVs to their product portfolios, IHS says. As expected, in the near-term, most FCEV production is expected to be in Japan and Korea, but by 2021, European FCEV production will take the lead globally. This indicates a shift in regional momentum for FCEVs as OEMs look to meet emissions targets. However, by 2027, FCEV will only represent less than 0.1 percent of all vehicles produced, according to IHS Automotive forecasts.

Many comparisons are made between Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and FCEVs. Current generation FCEVs share similar benefits to conventional cars; short refueling times and long range. Most BEVs on the road today do not have these advantages. “Refueling habits with an FCEV will be very similar to that of a conventional car. This will definitely help with customer acceptance of FCEVs,” Scott said.

Battery technology is improving each year, with $/kWh decreasing, while energy density increases. Although hydrogen has the advantage in terms of refueling times and range, battery technology is catching up. Until this happens, the FCEV market has a window of opportunity to establish itself as a serious contender in long term zero-carbon mobility. IHS analysts say. If the FCEV market has not reached this stage in the next 20-25 years (i.e., moved past the early adopter phase), then FCEVs will remain only in niche applications.

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and Honda Smart Hydrogen Station

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and Honda Smart Hydrogen Station

Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure

While FCEVs have the advantage of short refueling times and long range, there is still the problem of hydrogen refueling infrastructure. To date, there are approximately 100-plus public hydrogen refueling stations globally. OEMs are currently defining the early adopter markets, and this is where hydrogen refueling stations will be deployed. Hydrogen refueling stations are typically quite large and oftentimes need dedicated sites. EV charging stations are relatively inexpensive, whereas a hydrogen refueling station can cost more than $3 million (USD).

There is already a very well established hydrogen market, but 96 percent of all hydrogen produced is derived from fossil fuels (brown hydrogen), the feedstocks being natural gas, liquid hydrocarbons and coal. For truly sustainable, zero-carbon mobility, the hydrogen used to refuel FCEVs needs to come from renewable sources (green hydrogen). This can be achieved using an electrolyzer and electricity from a renewable source (solar PV, wind turbine etc.). However, the cost of green hydrogen will come at a premium compared to hydrogen from an existing plant, like a steam methane reformer. “There is no market today to justify that premium and that market needs to be created to encourage investment in upstream hydrogen production capability. There is currently a trade-off between hydrogen carbon footprint and cost,” Scott said.

Platinum use

Platinum is used as a catalyst in fuel cells. Therefore, if FCEVs do become a key player in long-term zero carbon mobility, then demand for platinum will increase. “In current generation FCEVs, the amount of platinum used is five to six times that of a diesel catalytic converter, but the aim is to reduce the amount of platinum used when fully commercialized and there is R&D into non-noble metal catalysts,” Scott said. However, FCEVs could still offer a good opportunity for platinum producers especially considering the pessimist sentiment around long-term demand prospects of diesel engine vehicles and therefore platinum automotive catalyst demand.

The full report is available for purchase here.  For additional research and analysis on the electric vehicle and hybrid markets, visit the IHS Automotive Hybrid-EV Portal.

source: IHS Automotive

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73 Comments on "IHS: Global Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Market To Exceed 70,000 by 2027"

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Jeez, I sincerely hope not. What a waste of energy…

I agree as who is going to buy a car that uses $14/gal fuel?
I bet they don’t sell 10k of them as soon even Toyota will admit they are not and never will be economically viable.

Shell sells H2 for about $7 per kilogram in southern California. Considering it gets higher mileage than gasoline, that would be like $3+ per gallon. Gasoline won’t stay below $3 forever.

Do you have a source for that $7/kg in SoCal? I’m not doubting you, it’s more for my curiosity.

Apparently a few stations are selling it at a subsidized price of around $6-7 per kg. Obviously that’s a money-losing price which can’t be sustained in a fueling station selling in volume to the general public.

It takes two therms of natural gas at 50 cents per therm to make one kilo of H2, not hard to make a profit.

Making H shouldn’t cost much. Nat gas at 250kWh for about $3, even 50% efficient would net 125kWh for $3. At about 33 kWh per 1 kg H, that’s 3.8 kg for $3, or $0.80/kg. Currently, I read gas reformation to be about 80% efficient.

The problem is what happens before and after. You need to compress, transport, leakage, decaying infrastructure, etc. etc. And then there’s huge markup at retailer to recoup the cost.

At $1M for station at 5% annum interest, they need to make $4200 a month just to pay the interest, let alone other incidentals. At $15/kg, 280 kg need to be sold a month (assume free nat gas), or round up to 300 kg. That’s 60 cars a month at 5 kg/car.

Basically, every FCEV have to fill up at every H station each month just to pay for the loan on H station even with $0 to make Hydrogen, not including anything else. Without subsidy, there’s no hope.

Take two therms reformed to make a kilo at the point of use or take two therms in a power plant to create pollution with transmission, conversion and storage losses in an EV.

In the example I give above, I assume natural gas is free, yet math still doesn’t work out. How is your logic based on therms any better? Show me the math!


$14.00 per kg in Diamond Bar (eastern LA)

$16.50 at Harris Ranch.

Ill bet even those prices $14-$16 per kg) are subsidized with tax payer funded hardware.

Here’s an one interesting thought… there isn’t a SINGLE publically available fool cell dispensing station for automotive use that is NOT grossly subsidized or outright paid for with tax payer funds.

And the hydrogen is still over $16 per kg.

NONSENSICAL GARBAGE For special interest Hidden Agendas….There is Method to This/their Madness….

The question with an unknown answer is when will FCEVs be able to achieve a $35,000 base MSRP for a passenger vehicle.

The more interesting story would be to see FCEVs in the full-size truck space. The high torque of an EV combined with off-road range flexibility would make for an awesome pickup.
(no pun intended)

I beg to differ. Even if they achieved that tomorrow, fool cells would remain a non-starter. It’s not efficient. Electrolysis wastes 55% of the energy, so even if that comes from solar or wind it would be far, far better to charge batteries instead – since that is over 90% efficient. The whole point of discontinuing ICE is to reduce energy consumption and emissions, and BEVs currently in the show are twice as good as the theoretical best case for fool cells.

That’s the fundamental reason to forget about these cars, the sooner the better.

In addition, even now that “polluter pay” is not the order of the day, an FCEV would need to be much lower priced than that to get close to the total cost of buying and then using a BEV. With fuel costs comparable to, and perhaps significantly worse than ICE, and much less performance, it wouldn’t even make sense if sustainability wasn’t an issue!

Hence , I say that there is “METHOD” to all this/their “MADNESS”

Yes, the problem with “fool cell” cars isn’t the fuel cell or the cost of the car itself, which could be brought down over time by more development plus scaling up production. The problem which cannot be solved, the problem which is as immutable as the laws of physics, is the cost of the fuel, which is a reflection of the massive energy-wasting inefficiencies involved.

Toyota is planing to launch a smaller and 20% cheaper variant of the Mirai by 2019, before the Tokyo Olymipics.


Mirai’s problem goes beyond just pricing. When SparkEV can do 0-60 in 7.2 sec and cost $18K, having $60K (or $50K) Mirai in 9 seconds is just embarrassing. When Bolt is out, that problem gets worse, and unjustifiable when Tesla 3 is out.

If next gen Mirai can do 0-60 under 5 seconds, that will cause some buzz to spur demand. That doesn’t seem likely. Then it’s just another boring car that won’t get noticed by general public.

The Mirai is slow, expensive at $57k(although it cost Toyota a lot more than that to make) and not very roomy.

Producing something less roomy, likely slower with less range, for $45k isn’t likely to improve the uptake.

Well, hopefully it’s better looking at least.

The original press releases for the Toyota hydrogen car said it cost (COST, not price) $97,000 each.

Twenty percent cheaper than what? The heavily subsidized price of the Mirai or the real price of the Mirai?

So the production of fuel cell vehicles in 11 years will be much lower than the plug-in sales of two years ago?

I think that may be optimistic but they could be right. But it seems that they are admitting that fuel cells have flopped while plug-ins are doing much better.

Maybe fuel cell vehicles can fulfill the niche of power long-haul trucks? That is something that could certainly use the ability to have long range after a very fast refill. I’d approve of that.

And that would have the advantage of only needing limited numbers of H2 fueling stations along long-haul routes.

I will never understand the thinking of those who suggest that somehow, FCEVs can be successful in some general transportation niche, altho they clearly can’t succeed as passenger cars.

Long haul freight trucking is very sensitive to the cost of fuel. That is literally the last place that I’d expect FCEVs to succeed.

Hydrogen powered fuel cells have certain niche applications, for example in underwater drones, and perhaps flying drones too. But the cost of H2 fuel will always be prohibitively high for ground vehicles. The laws of physics cannot be ignored.

Well, if we start getting beat down hard by climate change the world makes a hard move to ban burning all fossil fuels then you need to find some way to do long haul trucking.

Much could be moved to rail and then locally distributed with EVs I guess.

Seems you didn’t get his point. It’s this: fuel cost (and maintenance) is relatively MORE important for utility vehicles, and especially the heavy big ones. Hence the advantage BEV technology holds in this area is amplified.

Did you see the article today about the electric bus tests? Maintenance cost was 90% lower for the battery bus compared to the average diesel, and saved them $35k in the few months the test ran! That doesn’t even include fuel savings.

I’m sure even long haul trucking will be more sensibly done using BEVs than anything else, and especially FCEV. Neither make sense next to rail though, not to mention… Hyperloop!

Yeah, using long-haul trucking to move large quantities of freight is very wasteful. Railroads should be revamped to work more efficiently and get goods delivered faster, so they can better compete with long-haul freight trucks.

And yes, there was a simply fascinating article recently on the idea of using Hyperloop for freight, rather than passenger travel:


But if we do need to continue to use a large fleet of long-haul heavy freight trucks, we should at least convert them to use a renewable fuel. Methane (artificially produced “natural gas”) would perhaps be the easiest to deal with; it certainly would be far, far more practical than highly compressed hydrogen!

“If you’re going to pick an energy storage mechanism, hydrogen is an incredibly dumb one to pick. You should just pick methane. That’s much, much easier. Or propane.”
— Elon Musk, January 13, 2015

I just don’t see long-haul big trucking being done with batteries. They just won’t have the needed range.

Think of it this way . . . we struggle to make a 40MPG car go 200+ miles affordably. The average MPG of an 18-wheeler is like 5.9 MPG. How are we going to get THAT to go 200+ miles?

So you need some other system. And that can be biofuels, H2, overhead wires . . . something.

Spec, EV buses do that now.

Long haul trucking is one place where battery swapping would make a lot of sense.

Trucks already stop at specialized truck stops, and truckers swap trailers, wheels, and tires routinely. The battery pack would be one more thing like that.

Battery pack contractors would be hired as a service. There could easily be a single industry standard, as with so much else in trucking. You would pay for kWh used.

Thanks, I’ve suggested the same thing myself. Sadly, no one has ever responded to my comments on the subject, so I guess it’s an idea that’s not exactly catching fire.

Pushmi-Pullyu said:
“But the cost of H2 fuel will always be prohibitively high for ground vehicles.”

Always? You’re forgetting about hydrogen forklifts, which are taking over for lead-acid battery fork lifts. Time is money in a warehouse, especially when you’re paying union wages. The quick refill time of hydrogen forklifts is the big selling point for these niche ground vehicles.

This report must be planning on a big surge in forklift sales.

Don’t you mean propane, not hydrogen? We have 2 propane powered lifts where I work.

Hydrogen. Search “Plug Power” + Forklifts

They have made a business out of replacing dirty batteries with clean fuel cells. Many companies are doing this. These forklifts are fueled on site, proving that all the blather about how H2 is impossible to store is just nonsense.

Yet Sevn I can’t find any even at the Toyota dealers.
So please show where all these are other than a couple show pieces?

They’ll be dead in 3 years.

They probably won’t be dead, they’ll just be in the place they are right now…which is the same place they were 10 years ago. That is a potential technology that just doesn’t make economic sense but is endlessly talked-about and used in test projects.

Just like coal CCS…endlessly talked about and it does work but never catches on commercially because it just doesn’t make economic sense.

“Global Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Market To Exceed 70,000 by 2027”

I wonder if anyone would be foolish enough to bet that will actually come true?

Maybe so. Apparently there are a lot of physics deniers out there, judging by the persistence of FCEV promoters posting to InsideEVs.

Now, if the prediction had been 7,000 in cumulative sales, then that might actually be possible… altho I seriously doubt there will ever be that many “fool cell” cars in everyday use at any time.

You always mention Physics as the reason. I don’t think so. Let’s assume entire FCEV from Nat gas to wheels is only 10% efficient (90% loss). Given that nat gas costs $3 per 250 kWh (mmbtu) that’s still 25 kWh for $3, or about $4/kg equivalent. There’s nothing in Physics that says it has to be $15/kg, or even $4/kg.

The reason is not Physics, it’s economics. Without scaling, there’s no way to bring the price down. But if hydrogen economy magically pops into place, it could be competitive, at least to gasoline. Toyota wants to be the magician, along with fools in CARB.

Fools cell.

Did they even bother looking at a projection on what EV’s market will be in 2027 and compare?

With 70K cumulative sales in 2027, at what point do the automakers throw in the towel on fuel cells for automobiles?

Immediately after the government throws in the towel on subsidizing H2 filling stations.


Best post of the month.

+ infinity!


If you could get a H-Clarity (not a Mirai, yuk) at a fire sale price, it would be fun to strip out the Fuel cell and tanks and stuff and convert to a BEV. Who takes bets on this sort of stuff, there must be money to be made somewhere.

Honda will soon be making Clarity PHEVs and pure EVs.

And when they sell ten times as many of those as the fuel cell version, what will their explanation be? Or will it all be avoided by low production quotas?


According to the Clarity marketing manager “the market will decide”.

They keep on FUDing that hydrogen is 96% fossil based when in reality it is 99.9996%, or in short ALL of it.

To expand on that, most of the green hydrogen comes from biological methane. If they didn’t want it to make hydrogen look green it could offset some of the natural gas we burn.

There are some electricity to hydrogen plants, particularly in Europe. It’s still mostly experimental.

They should put hydrogen fuel cells where they actually belong, inside ships and aeroplanes where either extreme range and/or density is required. Outside of that space there simply isn’t much useful that they contribute to the conversation.

I think ships could get by on batteries and sails. Airplanes are the big problem.

Yes. But even flying can use hybrid tech to reap some of the rewards. There’s work going on with electric motors for planes and it’s pretty workable. To reduce required battery capacity and thus weight you use gas turbines as aggregates for takeoff and initial climb, then cruise on battery power, perhaps running the gas turbines some more for long flights.

I don’t know if charging solutions are in place to recharge in the short time for turnaround, but this is obviously necessary to make it a proper hybrid. If it isn’t a plug-in (chargeable; wireless is fine!) it would still drive all of its power from fossil fuels and therefore be a hybrid only with respect to power, not source, and then the point would be lost. (Some biofuel could perhaps be used, but since they are currently even worse than gasoline it’s not really an option now.)


But hybrid planes cruising on electric-motor drive propellers can’t compete with the speed of jet planes. Is there really a market for planes that fly significantly slower? Perhaps for short-range flights, but I seriously doubt that hybrid planes will ever compete with jets for long-distance travel. If time to destination isn’t critical for air freight, why not ship it via rail instead?

PP, you can use jet fans powered by electric or high speed props which are more efficient.
I think using metal air batteries would do the trick as 8kwhrs/lb is about jet fuel density with a lithium pack to help take off.
If using fcs then they need a dense fuel like methanol, ethaonal, etc, Not H2

Yes an electrofan can give the same speed as a turbofan but the amount of energy would be limited to less than 500 Km. For this application you would likely load a recharged battery in the cargo bay and then replace it along with the cargo between each flight. That would probably be ok for many short range flight where you would have the advantage of low noise and green power. That would still be a significant number of flights. Over time with the improvement of batteries like Lithium sulfur, the range would gradually increase. The interesting aspect of these planes is that an X-22 alike version of it would be able to connect places without a runway. The electrofans could provide the short high burst of power needed for vertical take-off much more easily than a turbofan. Moreover it would be a cheaper way to provide those short burst, which in itself could be the needed factor to make it possible altogether.

Nuclear is the way to go if energy density is the important criterion….

Perhaps someday our vehicles will be nuclear powered; perhaps even ordinary passenger cars. Unlike trying to use compressed hydrogen for fuel, the laws of physics don’t prohibit it from ever being practical.

In fact, the technology may not be all that far off:


Cool PUP, maybe all the Tesla haters will try these if they put them in cars as a way to spite Tesla and self-sterilize!

Of course, petrol cars use platinum in their catalytic converters, too, but I was surprised to learn it’s only one fifth as much as diesel cars.

You mean five times as much as a diesel cat.

No. A diesel car uses five to ten times as much platinum in its catalytic converter compared to a petrol car. A fuel cell car uses five to six times as much as a diesel car.

I posted that because I went “wait, what about petrol catalytic converts?”, and then looked it up.

70k sales per year in 2027 isn’t much at all, and that is assuming that automakers don’t come to their senses and realize what a wasted effort it is. At the same time EV sales will be several million yearly and cumulatively probably 50-100 million EVs on the road. That is long range, fast charging EVs. How are fuel cells possibly going to compete?

Fuel cells could possibly have a future in aerospace but then again, does aerospace have a future?

70k fuel cell vehicles ten years from now? As pitiful as that already sounds, it’s a wildly optimistic forecast.

Dear IHS:
Not going to happen. No chance whatsoever.

I wonder what IHS predicted EV sales would be for 2015, in 2004.

It is a fact, remarked upon by no one, that the number of public hydrogen fueling stations slated for completion in California in 2016 is exactly equal to the number of Tesla supercharger sites that currently exist in California. I believe California’s funding is earmarked to continue until 100 stations are active.

1) They have been “slated” for years now.
2) Each Tesla Supercharger location can serve 6 to 20 cars at a time whereas the H2 stations can serve one.

“Although hydrogen has the advantage in terms of refueling times and range, battery technology is catching up. Until this happens, the FCEV market has a window of opportunity…”
That window was in reality closed when Tesla hit 300 miles EPA

70’000 means 1% of the global car market in 10 years? Unfortunate I think it will be pushed by the global big petrol brands as alternative fuel,using there existing infrastructure trying locking out EV’s.

When developments go that quickly in 10 years an EV could cost 25$k, with a 350 mile range and is recharged in 15min.

That graph seems overly optimistic.