Navigant: Fuel Cell Vehicle Sales To Exceed 228,000 Units By 2024

DEC 27 2015 BY MARK KANE 62

2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Sedan

2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Sedan

Navigant Research announced a forecast saying that by 2024, the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market (cars and buses worldwide) will increase to 228,000 annually.

In other words, at best, sales will be much lower 10 years from now than plug-in cars, or even only all-electric cars, are today.

Taking into consideration that the forecast could turn out to be too optimistic, and that plug-ins will be even further ahead in 2024.   With all the recent long-range EVs announced, we still don’t understand the heavy bet on hydrogen by some companies.

As of today, there are probably just 1,000 FCVs worldwide.

“Toyota’s introduction of the Mirai, its first production-level fuel cell car, has thrust fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) back into the spotlight. While the performance of FCVs makes them ready for commercial launch, the industry is still focused on the two key requirements for larger-scale market introduction: driving down vehicle costs to be competitive with battery and hybrid vehicle technology and developing the hydrogen infrastructure necessary to fuel the vehicles.”

“Until the infrastructure is available, the market for FCVs is expected to remain supply-constrained, with vehicle production at low levels, according to the report. To facilitate the creation of FCV infrastructure, automakers are collaborating with new partners in retail fueling and hydrogen supply.”

Lisa Jerram, principal research analyst with Navigant Research said:

“Commercial FCVs are finally available to drivers in select markets, with early indications of real customer interest and signs that manufacturers are getting serious about pricing FCVs to compete at the premium-vehicle level. Automakers serious about fuel cell technology are expected to tackle the fueling infrastructure problem head on, with much needed investments in station buildout.”

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62 Comments on "Navigant: Fuel Cell Vehicle Sales To Exceed 228,000 Units By 2024"

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???? I’m not sure what Navigant is smoking but I want some!

Or maybe Toyota is now an ‘investor’ in Navigant?

The more I read about Navigant the less I believe it.
It seems to be the same kind of paid for results that Lux, Pike put out.
All 3 seriously overstated the cost of lithium batteries by 2x’s!!!
Even saying they cost more OEM than I was buying EV quality lithium retail at the
As for their ‘research’ just who is going to buy cars that takes $14/gal/kg fuel?
If you can find the H2?
Sure you can find some dummies but I doubt 10k foolcell H2 cars will be sold by
And no one is talking about how much service they require with so many systems, compressors, etc to keep the fuel stack alive.
Which might be the only real reason to make them, keeping service, parts departments going which 200 mile EV’s don’t need much andfor 25% of the cost to buy and 5% to run Vs a H2FCV unsubsidized.
H2FC cars are not ever going to be viable as physics, economics are so much against it.
And other far more eff, cheaper techs like BEV’s with 15 minute, 150mile charge like the Model 3 will have at SC’s means they are a waste of money.

Something tells me you’re not paying very close attention if you didn’t notice that Pike BECAME Navigant.

Also, Navigant’s report from earlier this year with predictions for plug-in vehicles for the same year (2024) estimated that in North America there will be 20 times as many plug-in vehicles (just passenger cars) as this report says there will be FCEVs (including buses and trucks).

It probably would have calmed down this comment section considerably if this comparison with an earlier PEV-specific Navigant study was provided in the article.

Thanks, I was wondering why they sounded so much like Pike.

This would be .25% of world sales in NINE years, not exactly a major endorsement.

I suppose fuel cells might be better for mining, agriculture and general aviation. I wouldn’t bet on that, though.

Aviation? I think that’s been tried before, and it didn’t work out too well.

Really? Do you have a link?

(You couldn’t possibly be talking about the Hindenburg, which didn’t use fuel cells and was used for commercial aviation.)

Aircraft can be a good FC choice though not with H2 but other more dense, easily storage fuels.
Same with semi’s in a hybrid FC/Battery drive.
But they would use a different FC type and better fuels.
And likely use the excess FC heat to drive a heat engine making it more eff.

The problem with aviation is that it takes a very heavy pressurized cylinder to store the hydrogen, which is after all, a gas. The same issue exists with CNG, and that is why CNG aircraft never took off (pun intended).

But what do you use instead?

Batteries weight even more.

Biofuels are going to be in limited supply.

Any fossil fuels would need the carbon extracted from air afterwards, and we don’t yet know what that will cost. If it is too expensive, do we just ban all flights that can’t use liquid hydrogen?

Ironically, if fuel cells can be made high power, there might be, just might be, a potential for rocket electrification. Electrification not just plain electric since Newton’s law require to eject mass to get a force in return , but you could use electricity to increase the ISP. If you eject the same fuel but at ten times the speed you get ten times the force in return. In reverse you can get the same force by ejecting ten times less fuel mass. If a fuel cell provide electricity and that electricity improve the ISP tenfold, it might be worth it. Of course the fuel cell would be a big mass to lift in itself and it would require a big mass of fuel to generate the electricity as well but if the rocket’s own ejection mass fuel is reduced by ten, that makes a big difference at lift-off. Of course it would be only interesting for reusable rockets.
However FC is probably not the electric source of choice for the 140 second energy burst required but who knows what can be in the future.

Meh, Generally am in lock step with Navigants’ research results. Not this time. Sure, 2024 is 9 years from now and a lot can happen. However, per the US Energy Department’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, the total USA count for Public Hydrogen Fueling Stations have sat at 12 total for the last year and a half. Recently, two more stations have been added for a total of 14. Link Goes To DOE, ‘Alternative Fuels Data Center’- Recently our friend John Voelcker, Editor of Green Car Reports wrote this – Friday, July 24, 2015: (This includes update to Johns Hydrogen Fueling Station Story From CA Air Resources Board) “While they enjoy driving their cars, early lessees of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in Southern California are complaining that they can’t reliably fuel them at the handful of stations now supposedly operating in their region. The stations are frequently inoperative, they say, closed for days or weeks at a time. Moreover, when the stations are functioning properly, they sometimes can only fuel one or two cars before an hour-long wait is required–and some stations can only fuel the cars to half-full. A private Facebook group for drivers of the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell… Read more »

“At, $2,000,000.00 average cost per public Hydrogen Fueling Station how much would the total sunk costs for such a national refueling infrastructure total?”

Consider not just the cost per station, but the cost per “fool cell” car. Even the California Air Resources Board (CARB) only claims that these stations will service 24 to 36 FCEVs per day! (As compared to the average gas station, which services about 1100 cars per day.)

Even if H2 fueling stations could service an average of 30 “fool cell” cars per day, that’s still $50,000 per car. And as the Green Car Reports article you cite details, that has proven to be ridiculously over-optimistic.

I dunno about y’all, but I certainly wouldn’t want my tax dollars wasted on subsidizing this horrendous boondoggle!

+1 Pushmi-Pullyu

Sure could build a lot of superchargers for $2 million


What makes me mad is they are poring our tax dollars into this burning barrel. At the same time this is going on it costs $45,000 to $60,000 to build a DC quick charging station in Virginia. So pretty much we could get 40 quick chargers for two million dollars.

There is little to non-existent interest in these vehicles. They can hardly get anyone to buy them even with free fueling for years.

Even these modest projections I think are based on unrealistic expectations of the solubility of fundamental problems with FCV’s which are showing few signs of being addressed.

I could believe 228,000 cumulative sales. That is only 25,333 per year on average. EV and PHEV sales will be way more than that.

It is simple math, dear naysayers. Fuel stack price for mass-market is going to reach $30/kW as per DOE report within 2020 or so. It is just $3000 for 100 kW car like Mirai. It is enough to compete at hybrid price level. I would not bother to compare with battery cars, their sales are minuscule right now. Even when you reach $100/kWh lithium battery price point, it is still going to be heavy and expensive addon that takes too long to charge and doesn’t work well for heavier and longer range transport, and depends on electric grid for charging.

Yes, hydrogen refueling infrastructure is non-existent now. It doesn’t mean it will stay so in 2024 as a lot of investment is going on and and is planned for future. At least it doesn’t look like it will be so hopelessly fragmented as with battery car charging networks.

Hydrogen cars can only ever hope to make sense in a world where we have access to more clean energy than we know what to do with. As long as the energy mix isn’t entirely from renewable – i.e. for decades to come – their proposal is insane. Producing green electricity just to throw away half the energy in hydrogen production and then lose some more converting it back to electricity in a fuel cell is fundamentally flawed, unless you’ve got abundant, cheap, clean energy to begin with.

The reason Toyota loves this technology is that it helps keep barriers to entry in the automotive markets sky high. Electrification is a huge simplification, making fat margins much harder to maintain.

We already reached that point in some places if you didn’t noticed. Right now, in 2015, I’m not even talking about 2024 that should be planned in advance. E.g. in Germany renewables make 30% of electricity, costs to balance the grid skyrocketed, residential users pay too much, and the grid has nothing to do with excess solar/wind. It is unsuitable for grid anymore, as it is intermittent and you need storage that doesn’t exists for price that makes sense, or you need full power natural gas backup, that defeats any economical sense of deploying solar/wind. Even in the US wind energy is reaching $0.03/kW, and at times of good wind its spot price goes to zero. Electrolysis may take 50kWh per kg of hydrogen. It means 50 kWh * $0.03/kWh = $1.5 for kg of hydrogen. Add some 12% for compession, it is still less than $10 per 5kg Mirai tanks. The only issue is to scale up infrastructure to overcome chicken-egg problem.

zzzzz – No, scale-up is NOT the only problem. According to your numbers, 50 kWh per kg of H2. Figure 60 miles per kg H2. That means 1.2 miles per kWh electrical efficiency. Compare to BEV electrical efficiency of 3-5 miles/kWh for the same size vehicle.

There is no way in a post-fossil-fuel future that our civilization can afford such a gargantuan waste of electricity for the minor advantage of faster refueling on that occasional 200+ mile trip. When gasoline and NG become scarce, I can guarantee you electricity will be worth a lot more than 3 cents/kWh. The spot light may be on FCV’s, but it will soon be a pen light, then lights out….

I’m thinking eventually I’ll have to change my attitude toward H2 cars. I currently think they’re impractical for countries such as the US that have good Gasoline Infrastructures, and reasonable electricity, thereby tilting the scales far toward electric cars. Air Liquide is building a Huge steam reformation plant – as apparently several other large companies are – in what last year has already been a record setting year for H2 production. But there are new technologies in the pipeline. Synthetic Photosynthesis has recently gone from 0.2% efficiency to 2%, an order of magnitude increase. Toyota has patented new electrolysis generators that do not eat up the anodes or cathodes – previously a problem. While the efficiency currently is horrid, TOyota thinks the charge/discharge efficiency of an ‘electric’ hydrogen cycle (using a fuel cell) may approach 80% by 2024. If so that is almost like a battery. So, for reasons I don’t completely understand, companies are shoveling megabucks into H2 infrastructure, of which I’m sure Toyota Mirais are a miniscule part. If these technology advances are commensurate with the money they are throwing at this industry, they may make it ultimately work. As I say, I don’t see today what is… Read more »
There is probably some involvement from the oil countries of the gulf. Once upon a time those countries where living from selling pearls collected in the sea. Then the Japanese invented the culture pearl and the market for the natural pearl collapsed. This left a profound memory in those countries that they still remember today. So, now that the know oil is coming to an end they want to have something else to replace it when the time comes. They could cover the desert with photovoltaics but it would not be easy to transport the electricity to the markets and even if possible it is an unacceptable fragility for the receiving countries in case of a cut. Hydrogen on the other hand can be produced from fossils for the time being and then from photovoltaic electricity and transported to the markets in liquid form. The Hydrogen in that form is somewhat storable, so they figure out that the buying countries would likely be more willing to accept the less direct possibility of a cut. Of course in order to make that plan work they must avoid at all cost the other contender on the street, the battery electric car. To… Read more »

As a side note to the gulf countries, I would say that plan is perhaps not that dumb but don’t target cars. Hydrogen is actually NEEDED for the steel industry direct Iron process. At present steel is made by digging Iron ore, that is ok, but also by making it reacting with coal, the major climate change foe. So the clever and constructive way is to make Hydrogen, and sell it to be used in the place of coal for Iron ore reduction in order to produce steel without the associated carbon dioxide emissions.

zzzzzzzzzz said:

“Electrolysis may take 50kWh per kg of hydrogen. It means 50 kWh * $0.03/kWh = $1.5 for kg of hydrogen. Add some 12% for compession, it is still less than $10 per 5kg Mirai tanks.”

Seriously, you’re actually trying to claim that the price for renewable hydrogen is going to drop by 86%?

This is a great example of how supporters of the “hydrogen highway” handwave away the reality of how much it energy is lost at every step in the process of getting hydrogen fuel into the fuel cell car. It costs energy generate, pressurize, store, move, store again, re-pressurize, and dispense H2 fuel.

The expenses and multiple inefficiencies associated with trying to use H2 to power cars is entirely due to the physical properties of hydrogen itself. Properties that no amount of clever invention can ever overcome. That’s why basic physics (as well as basic economics and EROI) will forever prevent the “hydrogen highway” from becoming a reality.

And if you doubt it, just look at the fact that hydrogen advocates like zzzzzzzzzz find it necessary to post B.S. about it in a desperate attempt to mislead us into thinking that someday it could be practical.

Every fuel cell car is just extended range BEV.

Take Tesla remove most of battery… and nothing else or else it will not drive, then add fuel cell stack, fuel tank, exhaust, piping, etc.

On top of that 30$ per kW is pure BS. Big companies openly claim technology limitations impeding mass production of fuel cell stacks.

Battery tech can get there with little new tech, and mostly by economies of scale.

Hydrogen also is not lighter then air! It need to be balanced with battery, piping, electric motors, and what not too. So one can assume that BEVs will have upper hand in car handling… Or else battery will be so big that “price advantage” claimed by You simply disappear. But then we are talking about range extended BEV.

“Hydrogen also is not lighter then air” – it is difficult to argue at such level :/

Even if you gave away, for free, “fool cell” cars to anyone who wanted one, the non-competitive high price of H2 plus the astronomical per-car cost of the fueling stations makes the “hydrogen highway” a non-starter.

It’s amazing that some people still don’t get it; some people are still promoting this insanity. Hydrogen simply isn’t suitable for widespread use as a transportation fuel. That’s due to the physical properties of hydrogen itself; properties which can never be changed or improved.

Mirai is for sale right now, for price less than Model S, and you can check all the properties in real life, not need to create some fantasy overblown theories from silly Musk advertising. Fuel cell stack is much lighter than lithium battery. Mirai fuel tanks: 122 liters gross. Fuel tanks plus fuel stacks – under 150 kg. Platinum use is reduced to just 11 grams now, about $300 at current market price. Range – over 300 miles, refueling – 3 minutes. And this is for very low volume experimental production. Obviously it will get better for next mass market model. It is by order of magnitude better than lithium batteries.


It is amazing that people believe some fanboy claims made out of thin air and emotions instead of taking time and reading actual scientific studies. Clean hydrogen price can reach $2/kg for mass market production in long term, it was already analyzed in many serious studies.

ZZZZZ- I am very curious about what scientific studies project $2/kg long-term clean H2 cost (non-fossil-fuel-based) Can you post a link or two? The best that I can find is UC Davis’ 2014 NEXTStep study which listed best-case scenario of $3.50/kg long-term (2050), using NG, biogas, and coal gasification WITHOUT carbon-capture(!). Their levelized cost for the medium-term (12 year) future is $6/kg.

Mirai sells for less than a Model S, but what does it cost Toyota to build it? Who would want to pay $60,000 for a car that is essentially a Prius with a horrible refueling issue?

Who would want a Mirai instead of a used Model S that blows it away in performance and ease of refueling.


“It is amazing that people believe some fanboy claims made out of thin air and emotions instead of taking time and reading actual scientific studies.”

Yeah. So why don’t you try actually reading some of those scientific studies that detail why it’s downright absurd to try to use hydrogen as a transportation fuel? And when I say “scientific study”, I don’t mean fake science funded by Big Oil.

You can start here:

Funny your weight point zzzzzzzzzzzz!
Actually, the Mirai is just about 400 pounds lighter than a Tesla with only 4 seats, much less cargo space and about one fifth of the power.
All that for about the same price without big subsidies.

Just saying.

Mirai curb weight is 4078.5 lbs.
Model S curb weight is 4,647 to 4,830 lbs for significantly less range.
Whole cars are not directly comparable, as they are completely different cars and weight of other parts may be completely different too.
Any car can be made lighter by using aluminum instead of steel like Model S, or using reinforced plastic like BMW i3. But it comes at the price and it can be done with any type of cars – battery, gas, diesel, fuel cell, whatever, so it is irrelevant to this discussion.

Smaller cars tend to weigh less. The Mirai is smaller than the Model S and weighs less.


Who cares if the Mirai weighs less than the Model S? Nobody, but nobody, makes a car buying decision based on curb weight. This just points up your desperation in being an apologist for “fool cell” vehicles, zzzzzzzzzz.

I don’t know if your income is dependent on Big Oil or if you’re just trolling, zzzzzzzzzz, but either way there’s no reason for any reasonable person to pay attention to the anti-EV, pro-“fool cell” FUD and bilgewater you post.

If your estimate of $30 per KW is correct, then that would make a nice range extender for a PHEV instead of a gasoline engine. I would love to have a PHEV with 80 miles of battery range and then a 25 or 30 KW fuel cell for range extended driving. That would be less than $1,000 for the fuel cell.

Actually, the hydrogen could be a good heater for the cabin and battery. No fuel cell required.

I would like a PHEV with that electric range and an Ethanol fuel cell if possible for a good price and it being reliable.

I don’t like whole compressed gas tank, and hydrogen distribution systems when a liquid fuel is so much easier to handle and store.

I have no idea how far they have come on the ethanol fuel cells and what the problems are with them.

Ranger extenders are fine concept for transition period. But they make car expensive, and you would not be able scale up hydrogen infrastructure with just range extenders, so I don’t see how it can work. E.g. Prius plugin version may cost thousands of dollars more than non-plugin (I’m not sure about exact price difference).

There will be no “transition period”. There is no way hydrogen will get cheaper and more convenient than electricity so the PHEV versions will never go away.

It will rather make it cheaper since you can put in less fuel cell stacks when you have a decent sized battery to store the energy in.
Instead of 100 kW or more you might do with ~30 kW. While just adding maybe 10 kWh for $1000 or 20 kWh for $2000 (or cheaper depending on when in the future fuel cells get relevant).

Not having to scale up the hydrogen infrastructure is added benefit. Then you would almost only need stations along the main highways.

If that doesn’t work then we will just keep to regular PHEVs and hydrogen is dead.

Once you have 90% of your trips covered, the most interesting system to cover the remaining 10% is the lightest and cheapest one. That is where the real remaining choice is. By adding extra batteries, you keep it simple since it is just extra cells. The downside for the moment is cost and weight. By adding a range extender, you add an extra system but can rely on an existing fuel distribution which can gradually be both reduced and changed easily to non-food originating biofuels. The down side is that you keep a hot engine and a tail pipe but it is cheap and super long range with liquid fuels. By adding a hydrogen fuel-cell, you add an extra system and need new Hydrogen refueling stations. The CO2 emissions to produce Hydrogen from fossils fuels is at least as bad as the combined CO2 emissions that comes from the gasoline production from oil and the subsequent combustion of it. Only in the long term can perhaps Hydrogen come from renewable but that will still be less convenient than a liquid fuel. Actually a direct bioethanol fuel-cell could be more interesting but that is obviously not what the fossil fuel companies… Read more »

David Murray said:

“If your estimate of $30 per KW is correct, then that would make a nice range extender for a PHEV instead of a gasoline engine.”

In what way would it be “nice”? Is it “nice” to pay $14-15 per kg for H2? Is it “nice” to have to hunt around for one of the few H2 fueling stations which are actually open, actually don’t have a waiting line, and can actually fill your tank instead of restricting you to half a tank?

It really puzzles me that some people seem to think that using H2 to fuel a PHEV somehow makes hydrogen fuel any less impractical than using it to fuel a FCEV like the Mirai. If anything, the problems would be worse, because with lower demand for H2, there would be even fewer fueling stations dispensing H2.

I think that people aren’t really thinking this through.

BWA HA HA HA HA!! Ludicrous™ mode: It’s not just for Tesla anymore!

I wonder if I could find anyone foolish enough to bet that Navigant will turn out to be right here. Or even to bet that 2024 FCEV sales will exceed 2016 sales. Unfortunately, I’d hafta wait 9 years for it to pay off.

Here’s my prediction, Navigant: FCEV sales will peak in 2016 or 2017, and will taper off rapidly after that. Even a politically motivated boondoggle backed by Big Oil lobbying can ignore reality for only so long.

A couple of spectacular explosions and the fool cell vehicle thing will be all over with.

You can shoot it, nothing happens. It was tested many times before with CNG tanks, and hydrogen tanks too. Small bullets don’t even penetrate the tank. Bigger bullets make holes, but hydrogen just gets dispersed in atmosphere, and that is all. It is safer than liquid gasoline, as it doesn’t stay on ground ready to ignite. There are many millions of CNG cars/trucks/buses in world, and around 100,000 in the US, they all use high pressure tanks and filling stations.

A 50 kW battery with a 15 kWh fuel-cell would really be all you need

The 50kw battery might be enough to let you drive from one hydrogen station to another.

You mean 15 kWh battery with 15 kW fuel cell?

If the battery is rated at a max c rate of 0.5 i agree. Lol.

The whole point of alternative fueled vehicles should be about reduction in GHG emissions. And on that front FCV make no sense. Even if all hydrogen could be made with renewable energy (which would be hugely inefficient), why convert electricity to hydrogen gas, only to covert again to electricity to power electric motors? As battery technology continues to advance, HFCV will become obsolete, if not already.

You are just repeating Musk advertising. It makes no sense if you think even for 5 minutes about it, and Musk would not descend to competitor bashing if he would not feel scared about their technology.

You can’t just drive up to wind power plant and fill electricity in a bucket. Electricity can’t be stored for cheap without converting it to hydrogen. All these pumped hydro and compressed air options are too expensive. So you just connect wind power plant to grid, and do much more voltage conversions and complicated balancing of power generators trying to match supply and demand, and you need to keep excessive supply most of the time to avoid blackouts at peak load time. As a result, 3cnt/kWh at wind power plant becomes 11cnt/kWh, or sometimes whooping $40/kWh like in CA for residential rate, and so all Musk efficiency “calculations” go out of window.

Battery electric cars with large batteries, like the Model S, can play an active role in soaking up supply of excess renewable electricity, without it ever having to be converted to hydrogen.

Smart chargers and supply-sensitive pricing can go a long way to encouraging people to charge when the wind is blowing, for instance.

zzzzzzzzzz said:

“You are just repeating Musk advertising.”

Hmmm… no, the Laws of Physics and basic economics are not “Musk advertising”.

Those of us who are scientifically literate and were paying attention knew that hydrogen fuel was absurdly impractical as a transportation fuel long before Musk ever started speaking or tweeting on the subject.

Too bad about you.

That figure s a tad optimistic, but yes, FCVs are going to get bigger in sales. I would say that most of it is going to be fleet vehicles, and most of that is going to be government. Right now, an amazing amount of fleet vehicles are CNG, because fleet operators can afford to install their own CNG stations. FCVs are a pretty natural replacement for those.

The only place they can really grow is in places that they will have a static range, like in transit buses and material transfer yards.

Not so sure even about that. Over the last few years there are quite a few electric passenger busses out there doing the job just fine. Some in China even have 700 kW DC charging.

Scott Franco said:

“That figure s a tad optimistic, but yes, FCVs are going to get bigger in sales. I would say that most of it is going to be fleet vehicles, and most of that is going to be government.”

Here’s an alternative viewpoint: If you look into those government FCEV fleets, you find that they are test vehicles, intended to explore the viability of FCEVs. With the commercialization of FCEVs such as the Mirai, continuing to spend government money on that seems rather hard to defend.

So arguably, the offerings of commercial FCEVs such as the Mirai may tend to bring an end to the government supporting those experimental fleets.

Analyst seems like the easiest job in the world. You just draw a graph that shows X growing, write about how it will do so and even if the prediction turns out completely wrong, no consequences.

Right. First decide what you want your conclusion to be, then go out and find evidence to support that, ignoring everything else.

Label this “analysis”, and then find suckers who will ignore the fact that your predictions always turn out to be wrong, who will actually pay you money for another one.