Image from post406
Though a few lucky Californians may already be leasing the Honda FCX Clarity, one of the first-generation fuel cell cars, a National Research Council report predicts that it will be another 15 years until they comprise a significant share of the domestic car market. And that assumes carmakers are able to successfully overcome several major technological and logistical challenges and that they receive significant government subsidies.
Image from BBQ Junkie
Report predicts 2 million by 2020
At best, the report estimates, there will be roughly 2 million electric fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2020 -- less than 1% of all vehicles in the U.S. The government would need to inject over $55 billion in subsidies over the next decade and a half to ensure fuel cell vehicles become a commercially viable option by 2020.
One way of achieving this would be for the government to buy fuel cell cars or install fuel cell technology in half of its existing vehicle fleets. In the short term, first generation fuel cell cars like Honda's FCX Clarity, which costs a whopping $950,000 to produce, and GM's Chevy Equinox will remain out of the reach of the great majority of drivers -- both for production and pricing issues. Like Honda, GM is currently leasing Equinox vehicles to a selected group of drivers.
A light at the end of the tunnel for fuel cell cars?
On a more positive note, the report predicts that falling costs and a more robust hydrogen fuel infrastructure could help fuel cell vehicles become competitive with conventional vehicles by 2023. Once that happens, the number of fuel cell cars on the road could drastically increase -- eventually hitting 200 million by 2050.
Strong electric car push could quash fuel cell progress
In light of the recent flurry of activity in the electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle sectors, and the progress made in advanced battery technologies, it seems more likely that fuel cell vehicles will never become a major component of the world's vehicle fleet. While it is possible that a major breakthrough could make hydrogen fuel a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels, the momentum seems to be shifting in the direction of companies like Tesla and Fisker, on one hand, and the renewed efforts by leading carmakers like Toyota and Nissan, among others, to develop electric models.
Via ::Reuters: Fuel cell cars still 15 years away at best: study (news website)
More on fuel cell cars
::Danish Climate Goal 2009: World's Biggest Fleet Of Electric Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars
::Hydrogen Hybrid Fuel Cell Taxis Ready For London 2012 Olympics
::Production of Honda FCX Clarity Hydrogen Car Begins