Lately, potential customers from all over the world are complaining about the severe shortage of fuel cell buses. However, automakers have only themselves to blame. The few clean buses that have made it onto the market are either hybrid or all-electric. It is a rare specimen that runs on fuel cells.
And if a customer gets lucky, the delivery time is extensive. With each passing day, the bus industry’s years-long failure to rise to demand is becoming increasingly evident, missing opportunity after opportunity to get on track. Apparently, though, bus makers now seem to have their engines running.
Most manufacturers do not even have a fuel cell model concept yet. And those finally taking a closer look at hydrogen and fuel cell technology have little to no manufacturing capacity to produce vehicles. This deficit stands in stark contrast to the huge demand for fuel cell buses, which could not only help big cities meet environmental targets but also have few range limitations.
Rome is a prime example. In February, mass transit company ATAC invited bids for five fuel cell buses as part of the European 3Emotion project. Not one bus manufacturer showed an interest in the project. The official city gazette said there were “no bids and no applications to participate.” This was the second time Italy’s capital failed to attract proposals for fuel cell buses. The first was in January 2019, when it requested vehicles and a fueling station. Despite the budget expanding to EUR 4 million, a fifty-fifty split between the European Union and the regional government, Rome’s efforts failed utterly.
Daimler’s manufacturing capacity drops to 50 percent
Many consider Mercedes-Benz the go-to manufacturer for fuel cell buses in Germany, since the company started designing a fuel cell bus called NeBus (new electric bus) two decades ago. Since then, it has participated in many publicly funded showcase projects. However, not a single vehicle was marketed.
read more in H2-international August 2020