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FCEVs to be cheaper to run than BEVs and ICE vehicles within 10 years

Fueling the Future of Mobility: Hydrogen and fuel cell solutions for transportation report from Ballard and Deloitte China explore prospects for fuel cell electric vehicles in China and across the world

Published: 8 January 2020

In less than 10 years, it will become cheaper to run a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) than it is to run a battery electric vehicle (BEV) or an internal combustion engine (ICE) commercial vehicle, according to a new report published jointly by Ballard and Deloitte China.


Officially launched today in CES 2020, Las Vegas, Fueling the Future of Mobility: Hydrogen and fuel cell solutions for transportation, the first in a series of reports exploring how hydrogen is set to power the future of mobility, focuses on the total cost of ownership (TCO) of FCEVs.

"We are incredibly excited to partner with Deloitte on this important initiative," says Randy MacEwen, President and CEO of Ballard Power Systems. "We hope this paper provides answers to the most pertinent questions from industry executives and laypeople alike – how economically viable are fuel cell vehicles, and what are their environmental impacts?"

Although FCEVs are currently more expensive to run per 100km than BEVs and ICE vehicles, they are set to become much cheaper—indeed the report conservatively estimates the TCO for commercial hydrogen vehicles will more than halve in the next 10 years—as manufacturing technology matures, economies of scale improve, hydrogen fuel costs decline and infrastructure develops.

"To many commercial operators, hydrogen seems to be a complex and expensive technology for the future." says Adrian Xu, Deloitte China Financial Advisory Director. "However, we have proven through our deep research and proprietary model, that FCEVs will become cheaper to run than traditional ICEs or BEVs very soon. Sophisticated commercial operators around the world are already investing in this technology to stay one step ahead of the competition."

"In China, where the TCO of BEVs is already close to that of ICE vehicles, the total cost of owning an FCEV is expected to be lower than that for ICE vehicles by 2027, and we estimate that the TCO of FCEVs will fall below that of BEVs a year later," adds Alan MacCharles, Deloitte China Financial Advisory Partner. "The cost of running FCEVs will decline as fuel cell system and hydrogen costs decrease by about 70 percent and 63 percent, respectively."

In addition to looking at the commercial viability of FCEVs, the report also looks at the progress and support from governments around the globe, such as China, US, Japan, and EU. For example, in China, during the 2019 Two Sessions, hydrogen was mentioned in the government's work report for the first time, showing the country's commitment to developing the FCEV ecosystem.

China already leads the world in the application of some types of FCEVs, with the highest level of application of fuel cell light and medium-duty trucks, and application of fuel cell buses exceeding that of the US and equal to that of Europe, the report shows.

"Through a focused dedication to renewable energy, China has become one of the world's largest hydrogen markets. China is now the largest producer of hydrogen as well as for commercial development of FCEVs in the world." says Chris Lin, Deloitte China Financial Advisory Director. "In the past few years, China has devoted significant efforts in the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle industry, which drove technology maturation, decreased hydrogen cost, and activated the application of hydrogen in various areas."

The report also includes a detailed case study of a Chinese logistics provider, one of the largest fuel cell logistics vehicle operators in the world. In addition, the report also contains FCEV case studies on drayage truck operations in California, as well as bus operations in London.

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