Fuel Cell Vehicle Sales: The Future Isn’t So Big?

“Fuel cell vehicles have been an elusive goal for the automotive industry, but they are on the verge of commercial reality.

“Fuel cell vehicles have been an elusive goal for the automotive industry, but they are on the verge of commercial reality. With substantial support from the largest automakers, the pressure is on gas companies and governments to make sure that hydrogen fueling stations are available to support this emerging market.” That’s Dave Hurst, analyst with Pike Research, speaking to an issue that is covered in the just-released “Fuel Cell Vehicles” study that the firm has conducted.

He cited Daimler AG, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota as being the key OEM players in the fuel cell vehicle (FCV) arena.

According to the study, FCVs will be available in “most regions of the world by 2014, and cumulative sales of fuel cell cars and trucks will surpass 2.8 million vehicles globally by 2020.” Drilling down a bit, here’s where they project the primary sales during that period:

  • 37% Western Europe
  • 36% Asia-Pacific
  • 25% North America
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Let’s assume that the global FCV sales in 2020 are 2.8-million vehicles. The total, not the cumulative. While that seems like a big number, consider this: the 25% that North America would account for is 700,000 units. In 2008, before things got really bad in the car industry, Ford sold 515,513 F-Series pickups in the U.S. If you add in the other trucks—Rangers, Econolines, Low Cab Forwards, and heavy trucks—it sold 713,391 units. One company. And just the trucks.

Maybe that 2.8-million isn’t so big.