13th September 2016 – Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) will catch up to electric vehicle (EV) sales because of the advantage of shorter refuel times and greater drive distances, according to a new report.

“Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with a zero emission capability, represent future of the automobile,” said Naqi Jaffery, the lead author of the report published by Information Trends, a Washington-based market research firm.

The report, Global Market for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles, argues that by 2020, sufficient hydrogen filling infrastructure will be in place in several regions of the world, giving a boost to the market for fuel cell vehicles.

Worldwide, more than 20 million fuel cell vehicles will be sold by 2032, and those sales will generate up to $1.2 trillion in revenue for the auto industry. By 2050, FCVs will be the “fastest growing segment of the auto market,” according to Naqi Jaffery, the lead author of the report.

While fast charging and longer distances give FCVs a leg up on EVs, the biggest factor that will drive fuel cell vehicles, Jaffery said, is the commitment of the Japanese government and automakers.

“Both Toyota and Honda, as well as Korea’s Hyundai, have largely stayed away from electric vehicles but are embracing fuel cell technology in a big way,” Jeffery said in an email reply to Computerworld. “Both are providing funds for establishing hydrogen filling stations.”

Audi has also announced an FCV — the A7 Sportback h-tron quattro.

Japan will have a network of filling stations by 2020, in time for the Olympic games, Jaffery said. In Europe, Denmark is mostly covered, and both Germany and the U.K. are aggressively building hydrogen filling stations. “Similarly, California is actively involved in setting up filling stations,” he added.

Several other major automakers are poised to enter the FCV market, and that will trigger “intense competition.” In terms of unit sales, the U.S. will dominate the market compared to other countries, but the region to see the highest growth will be Asia-Pacific, Jaffrey said.

“Several governments are giving generous incentives to help propel the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market, but Japan is the most bullish on this technology. The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, envisions hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as part of a ‘hydrogen society’ where fuel cells will power buildings,” the report said.

The report divides the timeline for FCV rollouts into three segments – 2015-2020, 2021-2026, and 2027-2032 – and provides forecasts for each of the three time periods. A companion report, Global Market for Hydrogen Fueling Stations, discusses in detail the infrastructure needed to drive the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market.

Not everyone agrees –