Fuel cell industry grows despite COVID-19

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E4tech Fuel Cell Industry Review

In March 2021, the new Fuel Cell Industry Review 2020 was published, complete with market data and detailed analysis. Since 2014, the team led by E4tech has been contacting fuel cell companies from across the globe, aggregating their shipment figures and producing an independent report each year on the current state of the fuel cell sector. Several extracts are provided here.

2020 was not the year many of us expected. But despite the very difficult situation brought about by COVID-19, fuel cell shipments continued to rise. The increase was much less than we anticipated at the end of 2019, both because of supply chain disruption and local economic slowdown, but is a very encouraging sign.

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Weichai Power – China’s largest diesel engine manufacturer on the fuel cell highway

The company Weichai Power, which I’ve so far only mentioned in this column as partnering Ballard, has a revenue around the EUR 20 billion mark and a stock market valuation of the same order. In 2020, a good EUR 1 billion was marked up as profit, with dividends also paid out. Weichai Power has several bus brands to its name and is the nation’s largest diesel engine manufacturer; it has clearly recognized the potential offered by fuel cells in the commercial vehicle sector and, in its own words, is intent on becoming the market leader.

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Very good to know

Fuel cell stack monitoring

ZSW
Testing a 95-kilowatt fuel cell suitable for vehicle integration
© ZSW

A fuel cell stack is a living organism and individual cell voltages report its vital signs. Which is why fuel cell vehicles are usually equipped with a monitoring system promptly drawing attention to critical operating conditions and enabling immediate response. It is absolutely necessary to reduce system costs before mass production can begin. Automated installations is a good place to start.

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Growth and strengthening

A. Steinau, J. Starr, S. Beck (from left to right)
A. Steinau, J. Starr, S. Beck (from left to right), © CEP

At the annual meeting of the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) at the end of 2019, a new management trio came together. Jörg Starr of Audi, who was recently elected Chairman of the Board, was joined by two Co-Chairs: Stefanie Beck from Toyota and André Steinau from GP Joule.

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FuelCell Energy – falling shares present new opportunities

SureSource
SureSource 3000, © FuelCell Energy

FuelCell Energy’s shares have experienced a sharp drop for seemingly no reason. It may have been a tactic intended to push down the price, for example, to profit via short sale in anticipation of the fall and convert warrants later. That is pure speculation, of course, but people say these things have happened before. In any case, the most recent investment decisions seem to be an unmistakable sign that institutional investors believe in the company’s prospects and its technology.

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Fuel Cell Incentive at 40 Percent

Hyundai
Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell – less expensive than you may have thought

“Fuel cell cars are too expensive – and there’s no refueling infrastructure either.” You may hear a sentence like this one many times over. Both German-language magazine HZwei and English-language e-journal H2-international have reported regularly about new hydrogen filling stations (e.g., October 2017 issue of H2-international). So, let’s look at the price, which might be much lower than many Germans believe. If you factor in available incentives, an FCV such as the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell would cost only around EUR 42,000

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Toyota Truck for Los Angeles

Toyota
Fuel cell truck equipped with H2 tanks, © Toyota

Soon, Toyota may not only be known for its fuel cell cars and buses, but for trucks as well. A new initiative called Project Portal aims to build a 36-ton truck equipped with two fuel cell stacks originally designed for the Mirai. They will be supported by a 12-kilowatt-hour battery to provide 500 kilowatts of output and 1,800 Nm of torque at a range of 320 kilometers (199 miles).

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Ballard Steps on the Gas

FCveloCity
Fuel cell bus with FCveloCity module, © Ballard

After the second-quarter figures from Ballard Power Systems came in at the end of June, there were several good news that underline which huge potential the Canadian fuel cell manufacturer can tap in China and Japan. The share price jumped more than 60 percent. The most recent business Ballard won over as a partner was Chinese Broad-Ocean. The corporation boasts an annual production of more than 50 million motors worldwide and supplies several top-notch carmakers

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Just a Reminder – Look at 2002

Honda clarity
The Clarity, © Honda

During my research for the article on the second generation of Honda‘s fuel cell vehicle, the Clarity Fuel Cell (see Honda Hands Over Keys for First Clarity Fuel Cell), I suddenly remembered days long past. More specifically, I recalled news pieces that I had written or read many years ago. I did a bit of a search and found the following lines, which I would like to share with you:

“One must recognize the distinct accomplishment of the second-biggest Japanese carmaker, Honda, which – like archrival Toyota – succeeded before all automotive manufacturers in the Western world to supply customers with fuel cell cars.

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Honda Hands Over Keys for First Clarity Fuel Cell

Honda-figure
Further improvement in energy density, © Honda

Life’s hard on Honda: The Japanese carmaker has always been overshadowed by its biggest rival Toyota. Whereas Toyota is expanding its lead thanks to VW‘s diesel emissions scandal, Honda’s efforts to shine in the spotlight, at least by promoting forward-looking technologies, have been met with only a lukewarm press reception. The latest example of that was the corporation’s unveiling of its second generation of Clarity fuel cell cars in the fall of 2015. The presentation attracted much less attention than when Toyota showcased the first generation of its Mirai.

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