The momentum for the fuel cell is constantly improving with increasing dynamics. Recent co-operations such as those between Bosch and PowerCell, but also positive statements on fuel cells from automobile manufacturers such as Audi are attracting attention. Will China be the driver again, as it was when the batteries were introduced and before that in the field of renewable energies? There, new funding guidelines are about to be introduced, which are intended to favour and strongly promote the fuel cell and the hydrogen infrastructure, while the subsidies for purely battery-operated vehicles will, depending on the radius, be abolished in full or to a large extent.
Firstly, all Tesla shops should be closed, because it would be easier to sell the vehicles via the Internet, then some showrooms should remain, because firstly, Tesla would like to continue to be present in important locations (big cities) and secondly, Tesla would not be able to get out of long-term rental agreements without paying a penalty.
In early July, the first Model 3 cars finally left Tesla’s factory, an occasion that resulted in great enthusiasm among analysts and shareholders alike. Initial production was limited to 30 units – 20 for employees and 10 for test drives. Custom-made versions, maybe? It doesn’t look like actual series production, but the event was an effective PR tool to launch the new mass-produced electric vehicle.
On Dec. 1, 2016, Nikola Motor Company presented its first hydrogen truck. Founder and CEO Trevor Milton unveiled the Nikola One in front of 600 invited guests at the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. The truck is a concept study of an electric semi equipped with a large lithium-ion battery pack and a fuel cell.
The persuasiveness of Tesla head Elon Musk resulted in more than 90 percent of Tesla and SolarCity shareholders following his recommendation and approving the takeover of the latter. Now, Tesla will expand its electric car portfolio by offering solar roofs. The impact of the merger on Tesla’s financials will show as early as the fourth quarter of 2016, when SolarCity’s results are added to the corporation’s balance sheet. The most important factor is the around USD 3 billion in debt.
Was that the signal so many had waited for? On Nov. 29, 2016, BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen announced the establishment of a joint venture in the electric transportation sector. They explained in a memorandum of understanding that they would join forces and equally share responsibilities for advocating the deployment of a “high-powered DC charging network for battery-electric vehicles covering long-distance travel routes in Europe.”
With great fanfare, Tesla head Elon Musk announced what he had devised as a second masterplan. The corporation is not only to produce batteries for its Powerpack and Powerwall, but should also supply the added solar modules (takeover of sister company SolarCity is in progress). The new plan additionally includes aims to design several other electric cars – from trucks and smaller transport vehicles to buses.
Klaus Bonhoff has managed the activities of the National Organization Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW) since its founding in 2008, making him the face of the German H2 and fuel cell industry. He has travelled around the world, patiently explained strategies and made the case for greater commitment. But he has also had to face criticism whenever projects were not implemented as quickly as had been hoped. H2-international spoke with the chair of NOW during the Hanover trade show
If one takes into account order bookings, collaborations, product developments and prospective markets, buying shares of fuel cell companies looks ever more promising. But the capitalization of the market leaders in fuel cells described in this article amount to a mere USD 750 million – a stark contrast to Tesla, the electric car pioneer, which has a market cap of USD 34 billion. These companies may very well get closer over the coming years, if Tesla gradually loses in value while fuel cell shares increase considerably in price.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk was as eloquent as ever when he raised the targets for the company’s electric car models: Instead of producing 500,000 electric cars (total figure, all models – i.e., Model S, Model X and Model 3) in 2020, the company should already achieve that number in 2018 and increase it to one million in 2020. One can question whether these targets will become reality, as they require even more large infusions of cash, making additional capital increases inevitable. And this although Tesla has just recently sought more money