Auto fuel cells to capture 'significant' market share this decade

Automotive fuel cells will have a market share of nearly 4% in the US by 2010, at which time an estimated 608,000 fuel-cell vehicles will be on US roads. This is the conclusion of a new study by Allied Business Intelligence Inc., a technology research think tank based in Oyster Bay, NY.


Automotive fuel cells will have a market share of nearly 4% in the US by 2010, at which time an estimated 608,000 fuel-cell vehicles will be on US roads. This is the conclusion of a new study by Allied Business Intelligence Inc., a technology research think tank based in Oyster Bay, NY.

Fuel cell power will reach tens of thousands of vehicles by 2003-04. And market penetration could rise as high as 1,215,000 vehicles, or 7.6% of the total US automotive market, says ABI. Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells will dominate the fuel-cell market, constituting 80% of all automotive fuel cells by 2010.

"Fuel cell technology is so appealing that it will have an enormous impact across all energy markets. Besides PEM fuel cells, which have received billions of dollars in research and development funding, niche technologies will gain a 5-10% share of this multibillion dollar market," said ABI Senior Analyst K. Atakan Ozbek, author of the report. "We will see dramatic changes sooner than most people think, and that will lead to early mass commercialization."

One of the major issues with automotive fuel cells is not the status of the technology, says ABI, but rather bringing down the costs with real manufacturing capacity�a level that starts at 100,000 units. A critical challenge facing fuel-cell developers is climbing the learning curve to achieve high-volume production.

Currently, none of the fuel cell developers have the production capacity for the types of fuel cells that are now being designed and built, says ABI. The firm predicts that mass production will be reached by the end of the decade, however, at which time "fuel cells will become fully price-competitive with internal combustion engines."

Following market penetration in the US, automotive fuel cells will gain market share in Japan and the European Union, particularly in Germany. Japan may see fuel-cell market penetration as high as 4.5% by 2010, compared with 3.7% in Europe.

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