As the automotive industry transforms from ICE to EV powertrains, many OEMs are exploring the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier while a few OEMs, primarily based in Japan, Korea and Germany, are already offering consumers hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars.
Hydrogen powered fuel cell technology does have the following advantages over lithium ion batteries (LiBs):
- Zero emission and less environmental impact
- Heavyweight batteries can be replaced with fuel cells stacks
- Fueling hydrogen much faster than charging LiBs
- Larger driving range (though the range of LiBs is increasing quickly)
According to the Hydrogen Council, a global initiative of leading energy, transport and industry companies with a vision and ambition for hydrogen to foster the energy transition, hydrogen can decarbonize major sectors of the economy, including but not limited to the transportation sector. Currently, this sector depends almost entirely on fossil fuels and creates more than 20% of all CO2 emissions. The Council’s vision is to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, and a third of the global growth in hydrogen demand could come from the transportation sector.
The Council believes hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles could constitute up to 20% of the total vehicle fleet, some 400 million cars, 15 million to 20 million trucks, and around 5 million buses by 2050. Hydrogen will first play a large role in the heavier and long-range transportation segments—buses, vans, and medium to large cars (in fleets and taxis) because they are heavier vehicles and have longer range distances driven.
Also, hydrogen-powered vehicles can complement battery electric vehicles to achieve a broad decarbonization of transport segments, according to the article Hydrogen: The next wave for electric vehicles?. This is due to high performance and the convenience offered by the fast refueling times that hydrogen offers.