Consumer need may dictate the future of fuel cells in the transportation space

Consumer need may dictate the future of fuel cells in the transportation space

February 3, 2017 1 By Stephen Vagus

ETI analysis highlights consumer needs

Automakers may need to develop a greater understanding of consumer needs, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). Vehicles are becoming more environmentally friendly, with some producing no emissions at all. ETI expects that clean vehicles, particularly those powered by fuel cells, are unlikely to see any significant growth in market share in the short-term. As these vehicles become more efficient and less expensive, however, their long-term impact on the transportation market could be significant.

Fuel cells may become commonplace in transportation beyond 2050

ETI believes that, while fuel cells show great promise in transportation, the transition to zero-carbon vehicles should be facilitated through battery electric vehicles. Battery electrics are expected to better accommodate mass-market needs through 2050. After that point, fuel cells may come to dominate the transportation space, if automakers can find a way to overcome major challenges. Consumers have shown that they are more willing to embrace battery electrics and hybrids over fuel cells.

Domestic charging solutions could encourage consumers to purchase electric vehicles

According to ETI analysis, providing consumers with home and workplace charging solutions is the most sufficient way to encourage people to embrace clean vehicles. Such charging solutions remove the need for consumers to travel any measure of distance to keep their vehicles powered. These charging solutions also represent a much less “risky” investment when compared to public charging solutions. ETI also notes that rapid charging stations are also needed to further encourage the adoption of clean vehicles. These stations can charge vehicles in mere minutes.

Consumers will determine the future course of the clean transportation market

Consumer appeal will likely determine how the clean transportation space evolves in the future. Many automakers have invested heavily in fuel cells, but they have not abandoned battery electrics and hybrids in any significant manner. Fuel cells remain highly expensive and lack the infrastructure support needed for widespread adoption. By comparison, battery electrics already have a formidable infrastructure capable of supporting the needs of drivers. As such, battery electrics may be the best way to encourage consumers to enter into the clean transportation market.

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