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Study Predicts 400 Million Cars Will be Hydrogen-Powered By 2050

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5 days ago Motor Trend Staff
2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell side in motion© Motor Trend Staff 2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell side in motion

Thanks to a limited fueling infrastructure and other factors, hydrogen cars are still few and far between. But the Hydrogen Council has an optimistic view for the long-term, sayingthere could be around 10 to 15 million hydrogen-powered cars and 500,000 trucks by 2030. By 2050, that number could grow to 400 million hydrogen cars and 15 to 20 million trucks.

The Hydrogen Council consists of 18 core members from multiple industries. Audi, BMW, Daimler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota are among the automakers participating in the initiative, joining other companies such as specialty gas supplier Air Liquide and Royal Dutch Shell. The Council created a study that quantifies hydrogen's role in the energy sector of the future.

Across multiple industries, not just transportation, hydrogen has the potential to account for almost one-fifth of total final energy consumed by 2050, the study found. At this level, hydrogen could contribute 20 percent toward global climate targets. In the ParisAgreement, world leaders agreed to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

a man standing in front of a building© Motor Trend Staff

The studysuggests that EVs can't do it all. To achieve the climate goals, the study says there would need to be 80 million zero-emission and 80 million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the road by 2030. "To bet on a single technology to solve the decarbonization challenge in transportation is not only likely to fall short of the required emission reductions, it is also risky if the hoped-for advances in that single technologyor the speed at which production lines and supply chains are developeddo not materialize," the study says.

Last year, IHS Automotive released a studypredicting hydrogen vehicles will still be quite uncommon in about decade's time. By 2027, this study says, hydrogen cars are expected to make up less than 0.1 percent of the global vehicle market share. That means automakers would sell an average of just around 70,000 hydrogen cars a year.

Reduced costs should help lure more people to hydrogen fuel cells, the study contends.Building the necessary fueling infrastructure will cost $1,500 to $2,000 per hydrogen car, but after 2030, the cost could drop to less than $1,000. When it comes to total cost of ownership, the cost disadvantage held by an FCEV over an internal combustionvehicle could drop below 10 percent for many passenger cars between 2025 and 2030. This reduction willcome as a result of increased manufacturing and a stronger fueling infrastructure.

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