Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles in particular are expected to rise in number dramatically, with Japanese and South Korean manufacturers optimistic about commercialising the vehicles by as early as 2015.
Analysis from Frost and Sullivan shows a big expected increase for FCEVs – up to as much as 58,000 units in 2020, against just 600 last year.
‘Key Japanese auto OEMs such as Honda, Toyota and Nissan and South Korea’s Hyundai/Kia are preparing their FCEV models for commercialisation,’ said research manager for automotive & transportation Asia Pacific, Vijayendra Rao.
‘Cities in Japan such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka, Seoul and Ulsan in South Korea are targeted by OEMs for commercialisation of fuel cell vehicles.’
It’s the Japanese and Korean governments that are helping the programme along, according to the report – offering support for research and development, and subsidising the expansion of an all-important hydrogen infrastructure.
How long it will take for the vehicles to be marketable the UK, however, remains to be seen. In 2011, Japan and South Korea had 11 hydrogen filling stations each – hardly an expansive infrastructure. The UK, meanwhile, currently has just a single commercially operated station – located at Honda’s plant in Swindon.
While there are few plans for the UK’s network to expand, though, Frost and Sullivan suggest stations in Japan and Korea are expected to grow to as many as 1,400 by 2020 – pushing growth of the vehicles. Similarly, Rao suggests that things like field trials of fuel cell vehicles will be needed to win over consumer confidence of the new technology – something that’s already ongoing in Asia.
‘OEMs need to work on the consumer’s awareness regarding the benefits of fuel cell electric vehicles through promotional programs and educating consumers, before full scale commercialisation,’ he suggested.