Do hydrogen car range records really matter?

Do hydrogen car range records really matter?

The argument is not whether FCEVs can achieve longer ranges than BEVs, but whether it is needed.

At the end of February, the UK ran its second Hydrogen Week. Hyundai recently set two new records for its fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) driving range. The first record set was for the longest journey in the UK on a single tank of hydrogen at 406 miles using an ix35 FC. The second was the longest continuous journey in a hydrogen car, covering 6,000 miles over six days around the M25 in London. According to IDTechEx research, to put this in perspective against battery electric vehicles (BEVs), the average stated range of a BEV sold in Europe in 2023 was 274 miles.

Dr. James Edmondson, research director at IDTechEx, said the argument is not whether FCEVs can achieve longer ranges than BEVs, but whether it is needed.

According to statistics compiled by the UK government, the average trip length for a car or van driver in 2022 was 8 miles, and the average commute distance was 10 miles. While this is just for the UK, the rest of Europe is somewhat similar, and even if the figures were doubled, this is still far below the range of EVs on the market.

Average journey lengths in the UK (data source: UK Government) and average range of BEVs sold in Europe. Source: IDTechEx

Dr. Edmondson said the fuel cell vs battery electric argument is divisive, with proponents strongly backing one side or the other, but that doesn’t always need to be the case. Automotive OEMs like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are developing battery electric and fuel cell cars, with the idea being that one solution will not suit every use case. There is also a fair amount of overlap with the drivetrain technology with FCEVs utilizing batteries and electric motors just like BEVs, Dr. Edmondson said.

IDTechEx research predicts that battery electric cars will be the dominant zero-emission automotive technology in the future. While remaining in the minority, the scale-up of hydrogen infrastructure, key automotive OEMs backing the technology, and certain regions pushing for a hydrogen economy, IDTechEx predicts a 60-fold growth over the next 20 years for fuel cell vehicles across cars, trucks, vans and buses.

IDTechEx said its report, “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2024-2044: Markets, Technologies, and Forecasts,” provides technology and market insights into the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles for the car, van, truck, and bus market, with analysis of drivers, barriers, players, models and market forecasts for 2024-2044.

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